Just about one century ago, leaders at St. Michael’s Church in Marblehead’s historic district opened a “mission church” for farming families on the still-rural outskirts of town. That church, then known as the Community Church of Clifton and now called St. Andrew’s Episcopal, is kicking off a year-long celebration of its 100th birthday on Sept. 10.
“We Episcopals like to have fun,” laughed Ginny Coffin, co-chair of the celebration. “We pray, but we also like to have fun.”
The September 10 party includes a special service with Bishop Alan Gates, a BBQ picnic, ponies, a bouncy house and live music with the band “Morris Meows.” The community is welcome.
“I’ve got goosebumps,” said Coffin, who seemed especially excited about the ponies.
Other events throughout the year include St. Andrew’s popular rummage sale on September 30, a church retreat to New Hampshire, a Mardi Gras party, art exhibits in the church’s Cloister Gallery (including an interactive timeline that people can add to) and a Roaring Twenties party in June.
Chris Stockwell, Coffin’s co-chair, is writing a book about St. Andrew’s history to mark the centennial.
“This is such a sacred place,” Coffin said. “This is a place where you’re valued. You’re challenged intellectually and loved personally.”
The Rev. Clyde Elledge has been at St. Andrews since 2012 and spoke about the church’s “spiritual legacy.”
“This building is literally infused with the prayers of people from 100 years ago, 50 years ago and three minutes ago,” he said.
St. Andrew’s dates back to the early 20th century when wealthy Marblehead businessman Issac Chauncey Wyman donated the land (where his family had a small burial plot) to his church, St. Michael’s, which later built a chapel on the spot. St Michael’s opened the satellite church for people who couldn’t make the two-mile trek into town.
St. Andrew’s worship area was built by local fishermen, and the ceiling resembles the inside of a boat or arc.
St. Andrew’s quickly flourished. On Easter Sunday, April 12, 1925, the first baptisms were performed for children Dexter Thomas Bowden, Donald Thomas Curtis and Stephen Robert Cook, done by The Rev. David Haupt.
In 1927, The Reverend Roy M. Grindy was named rector and remained at St. Andrew’s for the next 39 years, performing 1,422 baptisms, marriages and funerals, according to Stockwell.
Today, St. Andrew’s serves about 200 families and offers several programs and activities,
including its cooperative nursery school and a collaboration called “Welcome the Stranger” with interfaith partners Temple Emanu-El and Old North Church.
About six years ago, the church launched a $750,000 capital campaign for improvements to its campus, which will be completed in time for the centennial celebration. Those improvements include a new outdoor plaza where concerts are held.
The campus also includes the SPUR garden, a labyrinth where people can walk and meditate, the Cloister Gallery, a bright parish hall and a small chapel off the main worship space.
To learn more about St. Andrew’s centennial celebration and how you can participate, click HERE.