Dec 192010

St. Paul’s has the distinction of being the oldest continuous Episcopal parish in Massachusetts, and indeed one of the oldest in the country.  As you probably know it was founded in 1711 during the reign of Queen Anne of Great Britain under the tutelage of the Anglican missionary society with the long, tongue twisting name of The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, the foreign parts in this case being British America.  St. Paul’s founding was preceded by 25 years by King’s Chapel in Boston near the Common in 1686, the first Anglican parish in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  King’s Chapel, like St. Paul’s, had a tough time getting established due to the hostility of the surrounding puritan population who wanted no part of a “heretical” orthodox church from which they had come here to escape. These conflicts, social, economic and theological in nature, are a story in themselves for a later time. They confirm, as if we did not know it already, that the Christian family is no stranger to heated, sometimes ugly, conflict.


King’s Chapel, like so many churches in New England, adopted the ideals of Unitarianism after the game changing success of the War of Independence and the introduction of a democratically elected government by the people, casting off the enigmatic mysteries of the trinity and the supernatural divinity of Christ in favor of a theology based more solely on reason, conscience and moral character.  The distinction of the oldest continuous Episcopal parish passed to St. Paul’s. Although, in fairness, we should acknowledge we have competition. Christ Church Quincy in Quincy, Massachusetts was gathered in 1689 and organized as a parish in 1704, seven years before us. It too survived fires, relocation and persecution by the surrounding Puritans as did St. Paul’s. To complicate matters, their parish was divided into multiple entities whole ours remained whole. During the Revolutionary War its loyalist rector was suddenly lost while the faithful Rev. Bass continued to hold services throughout the conflict, albeit with the modification of no mention of the King, British government or the Royal Family, giving us some ground to claim an unbroken history of continuous service and operation. No doubt this gentlemanly diocesan debate will continue.


However, whatever distinction we hold, we might ask what accounts for our historic longevity?  What is it that made our parish forefathers and mothers remain faithful to this tradition of belief and worship?  What led our rector to maintain a path of comprise to keep our mission of faith alive?   What enduring values make us faithful to this day?


Bronson de Stadler

 History minute #2 – The Oldest Continuous Episcopal Church in Massachusetts  Posted by on Sun, 19-Dec-10 History Comments Off on History minute #2 – The Oldest Continuous Episcopal Church in Massachusetts
Nov 222010

On Nov. 21st, 2010, as part of our year of celebration for the 300th anniversary of St. Paul’s Church, we rededicated the current church building, first dedicated November 28, 1923.

 300th Anniversary — Rededication of the building.  Posted by on Mon, 22-Nov-10 History, News Comments Off on 300th Anniversary — Rededication of the building.
Nov 212010

As we sit in this beautiful light filled sanctuary, surrounded by its brilliant white, neoclassical interior, and we reflect on our 300th Anniversary theme Living Stones, Living Spirit we might also reflect on St. Paul’s architect, …the earthly architect that is, not the heavenly.  His name was William Graves Perry.  Born in Boston into a wealthy family and raised in Newburyport in a High Street mansion, he graduated from Harvard, MIT and the Paris L’Ecole des Beaux Arts by 1913.  He started his own architectural firm in 1922 after being approached to design a new St. Paul’s Church.  He already had a reputation behind him as a fine designer of private school, college and commercial buildings.  You can see his work at Phillips Andover, Harvard and Brown University among others.


For the new church he chose to retain the original shape and the structural exterior design of the 1800 church, only covered in granite to match the chapel and set back much farther from the road.  He kept the box pews only more compact, shortened the original wrap around balcony to the back wall so the windows could be enlarged to allow a flood of natural light.  He moved the original modest, low pulpit to the other side and created a grand wine glass affair that set the priest high above the congregation.


After St. Paul’s, he went on to be chosen in 1927 as an architect in Williamsburg, Virginia where the Rockefellers were about to undertake perhaps the largest historic restoration project in America.  Perry stayed on as an architect at Colonial Williamsburg until 1953, recreating many of its lost colonial era buildings.  He reappeared in Newburyport in the 1970s when the downtown was threatened with demolition.  He lent his name, his talents and his prestige to the cause of its survival and eventual restoration.


We can thank him and many others for this light, ethereal place where we come together to experience the living spirit.


Bronson de Stadler

 History Minute #1 – The Architect of St. Paul’s Church  Posted by on Sun, 21-Nov-10 History Comments Off on History Minute #1 – The Architect of St. Paul’s Church
Nov 212010

Music is one of God’s greatest gifts to humanity, and a gift we can return to God.  At St. Paul’s we are blessed to have a building with good acoustics, and we’re delighted to provide performance space where people can gather to enjoy this gift of music.

We host the Newburyport Chamber Music Festival, for their August concert series and occasional events throughout the year.

We host the Cantemus Chamber Chorus of Ipswich for several performances each year.

If you are interested in using St. Paul’s worship for music performance, please don’t hesitate to contact us and ask about making arrangements for your event.

 Concerts at St. Paul’s  Posted by on Sun, 21-Nov-10 Ministries Comments Off on Concerts at St. Paul’s
Nov 062010

St. Paul’s was founded in 1711 by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. We have been in continuous ministry to the people of Newburyport since then.  We’re celebrating our 300th anniversary with lots of events this coming year.  Take a look at our St. Paul’s 300th Anniversary Schedule of Events.. (pdf).

 300th Anniversary Year Celebrations  Posted by on Sat, 6-Nov-10 Ministries, News Comments Off on 300th Anniversary Year Celebrations
Oct 312010

The Weathervane is our parish newsletter. It’s an important part of keeping our church community bound together. We need a volunteer editor.

The ideal volunteer would have many (but not necessarily all) these skills:

  • Comfortable and familiar with proofreading and editing text submitted by church members.
  • Able to work with our Rector and the layout staff to develop an editorial priority list.
  • Knowledge of word processing (with MS Word) and basic computing and internet skills.
  • Work cooperatively to solicit, gather, and compile information, stories, and news for the Weathervane.

The Weathervane Editor makes a valuable contribution to our church community. If this position interests you and you would like further information, please contact Sharon Clark at 978 388 3372 or by email at OwlDream.  Her email account is on comcast dot net.

 Volunteer Help Wanted: Weathervane Editor  Posted by on Sun, 31-Oct-10 News Comments Off on Volunteer Help Wanted: Weathervane Editor
Oct 312010

St. Paul’s welcomes these community groups and fellowships.

  • Alcoholics Anonymous.  Tuesdays at 7pm in the parish hall.
  • Al-Anon. Wednesdays at 7:3o pm, downstairs classroom.
  • Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. Wednesdays at 7pm in the library, and Saturdays at 10am in the Harborside Room.
  • Sangha Meditation Group, Wednesdays at 8am in the library.
  • Strings in Motion, Fridays at 6:15 pm in the library (Sept-May)
  • Narcotics Anonymous, Saturday at 7pm in the parish hall.
  • Boy Scouts, Thursdays at 6:30pm, twice per month, in the parish hall.

If you need a place for your community or fellowship group to meet, please inquire at the St. Paul’s church office at (978) 465-5351 or by e-mail at

 Community Groups at St. Paul’s  Posted by on Sun, 31-Oct-10 Ministries Comments Off on Community Groups at St. Paul’s