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St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral

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Before it became an Episcopal cathedral, St. Mary’s was a mission church, organized in 1857 by members of Calvary Episcopal Church on the semi-rural,  eastern fringe of Memphis, Tennessee, on a spot now considered to be part of Downtown. It became the cathedral church of the old statewide Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee in 1871 and later the cathedral of the Diocese of West Tennessee with the creation of the three dioceses within Tennessee in 1983. A small wooden Gothic structure was built on a lot located at the eastern edge of the city at Poplar and Orleans. It was the desire of James Otey, the First Bishop of Tennessee, that "free seats" and "openness to all" would be the policy of this church, built as a "house of prayer for all people." St. Mary's Church was officially dedicated on the following Ascension Day (May 13, 1858). 

Memphis suffered periodic epidemics of yellow fever, a mosquito-borne viral infection, throughout the 19th century. The worst of the epidemics occurred in the summer of 1878, when 5,150 Memphians died. Five years earlier, a group of Episcopal nuns from the recently formed Sisterhood of St. Mary arrived in Memphis to operate the St. Mary's School for Girls, which was relocated to the cathedral site. When the 1878 epidemic struck, a number of priests and nuns (both Protestant and Catholic), doctors, and even the proprietress of a bordello stayed behind to tend to the sick and dying. The Episcopal nuns' superior, Sister Constance, three other Episcopal nuns, and two Episcopal priests are known throughout the Anglican Communion as "Constance and Her Companions" or the "Martyrs of Memphis". Added to the Episcopal Church's Lesser Feasts and Fasts in 1981, their feast day (September 9) commemorates their sacrifices.

Worship times

10:00 am
Eucharist (Rite II) with choir in the Nave
12:00 pm
Noonday Prayers online via Zoom
9:00 am
Morning Prayer in the Sisters Chapel
followed by brown bag breakfast for neighbors
9:00 am
Faith Formation for Adults and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for children beginning Sept. 17.
1:00 pm
Bible Study at The Bookshop, adjacent to the Cathedral parking lot.

Volunteer opportunities

One time opportunities
Ongoing commitment opportunities

St. Mary's has a vibrant ministry life that our members enjoy. From music to hospitality, there are many ways to realize God's love through service to our congregation and community.


Pastoral Care Teams

Faith Formation

Team members share their gifts through "holy touches" by providing meals, visits, cards, phone calls, home communion, weekday flowers, transportation, and other beautiful sharings. Enrichment workshops take place throughout the year and trainings are in the Fall and Spring. 

Hospitality Teams

Meal Programs

Teams of volunteers coordinate goodies for the weekly Hospitality Hour after the 11:00 am Sunday service and for other events. Refreshments do not have to be homemade. Volunteers are always needed to share in this ministry

News about St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral

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700 Poplar Ave
Memphis, TN 38105-4512
United States



The Rev. Gary Meade

Interim Dean

Andrew Pouncey

Parish Administrator

Dr. Dennis Janzer

Director of Music

Dr. Richard Townley

Choirmaster & Assistant Organist

Organized groups

Adult faith formation
Bible study
Daughters of the King
Eucharistic Ministers/Visitors
Neighborhood associations

Other community groups

Glory Be Gals
Hospitality Team
The Episcopal Bookshop
West Tennessee Haiti Partnership