We see a future in Chester!
Business Hours Mon-Fri 9-12 (610)872-5711
Almighty and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Holy Eucharist is held at 9:00 on Sunday morning in the church.
Please call the office to reserve a spot.
The service is also live-streamed and available after the service on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/stpaulschesterpa
Wednesday Morning Prayer is held at 10:00 and is live-streamed on our Facebook page.
Adult Formation is held on Zoom on Monday at 11:00. Please contact
Fr Civale or the church office for more details
During the pandemic Saint Paul's continues to take all the precautions in compliance with diocesan and state guidelines.
Other resources for online services can be found at www.diopa.org or by clicking the link below. The office is open on our usual schedule and the clergy are available for visits and to administer the sacraments.
Dear Parishioners of Saint Paul’s,
It is with joy and gratitude that I write to you. I am very excited to be joining your parish as we begin our ministry together in September. Saint Paul’s has a long and venerable place in the City of Chester and in the Diocese of Pennsylvania and I feel honored to be called to lead with you as we begin a new chapter in the parish’s life.
Before and since accepting the call to be your Deacon in Charge, I’ve had the chance to explore with your Vestry and staff some of the different ways that I will lead with you and how we can minister to one another and the community of Chester. Saint Paul’s is a parish with many gifts. In my interactions with you I have experienced the parish’s warmth and dedication. This can be seen in how lovingly you have maintained your beautiful church building, the emphasis you place on the traditions of our faith and your deep desire to serve our Lord Christ. You have had the foresight to turn further outward and serve the many needs of the people of Chester. Chester Eastside Inc., the Wellness Center and the other collaborative ministries will continue to be crucial for the health of the parish and community.
In the next few months, I am looking forward to getting to know each one of you and for you to get to know me. In the meantime, I can briefly share a few things. I grew up in the Albany, New York area. Raised Roman Catholic, faith has been fairly ecumenical as my mother’s family was Methodist and my father’s was Roman Catholic. I first started worshiping in the Episcopal Church as a teenager and have primarily attended and served throughout much of my life in more urban parishes in the Albany area, New York City and Boston. I am a clinical social worker and have enjoyed many years working primarily as a psychotherapist, but also in medical and psychiatric settings and more recently as a congregational consultant in the Diocese of Massachusetts, my sending Diocese. After three years of study, I graduated from Virginia Theological Seminary in May. I love to be outdoors and enjoy long walks and hiking and touching the things that nature offers. I enjoy museums, singing, concerts of all types of music, and exploring the world- both locally and globally.
These are strange and anxious times, which have turned our lives and expectations upside down. The Church joins other organizations in the world as it learns how to live and thrive, despite the difficulties. The apostle Paul reminds us in his Epistle to the Romans not to be overcome by fear and anxiety, “knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us (5:3-5)”. It is only through God’s loving grace and depending on his grace that we will be made new. I hope that you will join me in seeing this time as the beginning of something new, bringing the good things of the past and the things that we are presently learning, into a future which I believe is very exciting and promising for Saint Paul’s. Onward we go!
Yours faithfully in Christ,
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair We had Daniel everything before us, we had nothing before us. We were all going direct to Heaven. We were all going direct the other way. In short, the period was so far like the present period.”
This past year we have seen much of what Charles Dickens described in A Tale of Two Cities: the best and the worst. When COVID hit, it was challenging and, at times, grueling. Yet, we did not wane nor recede into the shadows; we were resilient knowing Christ always leads us to new life. If these coming days are to be the best of times, we must answer the call to serve our Lord. While the journey will not be easy, we have the gifts, the faith, and the people to meet the challenge—each one of us, from all corners of this diocese, need to share in this sacred work.
I want to share some highlights from the last year. You can see our entire list at diopa.org/together.
Over the past four and a half years we have worked together to build a dynamic and hopeful diocese. In the process, we have strengthened and unified, but there is vast potential for so much more. New ministries are flourishing, closed churches have reopened, and a spirit of trust is palpable. With gratitude to the Lord, we are recognized as the diocese of possibilities - a revolutionary diocese that is changing the Church and the world around us.
Now is the moment to push even further. United in faith, an unshakeable resolve, and an inner fortitude that cannot be broken - this is our diocese.
We have the opportunity to radically change society's perception of the Church in the 21st Century. Through our lives and ministry, we can silence those who forecast the demise of mainline churches. The time is now, and we will meet the challenge. I take Leonardo DaVinci's words to heart, "I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough. We must apply. Being willing is not enough. We must do.”
Thus, I call on each you to meet this year and our subsequent years with a joyful urgency and determination. People always talk about tomorrow: “What the church will look like tomorrow?” “Will we have a church tomorrow?” Let us not wait until tomorrow, for tomorrow is less than a day away. This will become our diocesan quest to demonstrate the power of Christ to the world. The Church, our church, must not be content to become a museum or become frozen in amber. We must do those things they say cannot be done; we have Jesus Christ, and the forces of destruction and despair do not stand a chance.
Continuing this support, at our January meeting I am asking the Trustees to set aside $250,000 for grants to individual churches (up to $2500) to assist them in purchasing cameras and equipment to assist with broadcasting their services. Churches that have already purchased equipment are eligible for funds to cover expenses already incurred. We are also creating a space at Diocesan Center for our churches to film, train in technology, and increase their capacity for proclaiming the Gospel in the 21st century. At this critical time, we must increase our investment in research and development. In the coming months, I will also present numerous other initiatives to the Board of Trustees and ask them to discern a path for funding and implementation. After much study of need and assessment of potential and viability, we believe these proposals will empower outreach, ministry and strengthen our diocese. I will share those ideas with you in my February message.
We all know that solely relying on ideas and funding is insufficient. If we are genuinely going to demonstrate our strength, then we must fully tap our greatest resource, you. I prayerfully summon each and every person in our historic and revolutionary diocese to step forth and share their God-given gifts with a unity of purpose and no fear of failure.
During our clergy call this month, I asked our larger churches to step forth and offer the talents within their churches to the entire diocese. I asked the deans and rectors to put out a call to their membership for service. Working with the Offices of the Diocese, we are asking attorneys, financial advisors, bankers, investment professionals, business developers, and teachers - faithful people from all professions - to offer their talents to assist those churches who need expertise in a given field. But it goes far beyond our larger churches - I am asking the rectors, vicars, and laity in our medium to small churches to send out the same call. We have enormous talent, and your skills are needed in service to our Lord.
Every person in every church must step forth and help create our future. I am asking each member of our diocese to offer their skills and talents to the service of the Lord. Whether it is an hour a month or 10 hours a week, we are being called to give our hearts, minds, and bodies. In building our church, we must find the right materials. Those materials are not solely bricks and mortar; the materials are the people of this diocese. For a few brief moments during the week, offer a sacrifice of your time unto the Lord, for there is no greater calling than serving our Lord.
We have set three destination points in the next few years: 1) Mission - proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ 2) Service - to one God, one another, and our community; and 3) Poverty - Economic, Social, Physical and Spiritual. Let our diocese be known as a revolutionary place where "Jesus is on the move." Our Anglican tradition offers a unique voice that will speak to the needs of the world. Let us use that voice to proclaim it boldly.
This is not a time of rest; this is a time of hope and endeavor. This is a time of boldness -for our future is already upon us. We cannot wait for the rest of society to catch up. We have the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and therein is our hope. Let us be that light up on the hill for all people to see and follow. A beacon that draws all people into the radiance of His life.
This is the time to consider the impossible - for each church to discern ministries that will truly make a difference. The world is longing for connection. We can meet that need through individual encounters, joyful invitations, and creating a sense of belonging one person at a time. Let us move forward in planting missions and house churches; people need to hear the good news after this long isolation. Children need to hear the voice of Christ after being separated from all that is familiar. Let us be creative and fail, fail often, and fail daringly. If we are not failing, we are not trying. Boldly experiment and test different ideas, preach passionately, and love fully. Our staff is eager to assist you. We will do this together.
At the end of A Tale of Two Cities, the main character, Carton, is facing death. He notes the fact that the oppressors in the crowd "have risen on the destruction of the old," He also realizes that, someday, Paris will recover from these horrors and become beautiful. In the same way, our diocese will recover from these horrors and will become stronger, more beautiful and ultimately change the world. I believe this in the depths of my soul because I believe in you, and I believe in the power of Jesus Christ.
Let us dare greatly, strive valiantly, love completely, and spend ourselves in the service of Christ. With unity of purpose and no fear of failure, we can and we will because we have Jesus Christ.
To this beloved diocese, let us go forth with courage and faith because our Savior is with us. Press on, for our message is Jesus Christ.
The church operates a free wellness center in partnership with our diocese and Widener University; and we partner with St. Mary’s Episcopal Church and Chester Eastside Inc. Our clergy minister to residents of Episcopal Place at Park Row; we support City Team, the Salvation Army and Kidz First.
St. Paul's has made its commitment to remain in Chester. We see a future in Chester.
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church is a long-established Episcopal church (1702) in the heart of Chester, a city that has undergone many changes since a time of great prosperity in the 19th and early 20th centuries. From that heyday, there has been many economic declines. This has presented us with considerable challenges as we strive to our mission of bringing the knowledge and service of Jesus Christ to our community; of sharing and spreading the Good News of God’s love among all people; and of being a welcoming haven of strength and service to our community, with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit
To further our mission, we have created a free wellness center in partnership with our diocese and Widener University. We also have a partnership with St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, at the western end of Chester, and also with Chester Eastside Inc., a community ministry that operates from St. Paul’s building. Our clergy ministers to the residents of Episcopal Place at Park Row, housing for seniors and individuals with special needs. We support City Team, a mission for men in Chester and the Salvation Army and Kidz First. And, we collect toiletries for the Wesley House, our neighbor at 7th and Madison, an emergency shelter for families and single women and the Family Management Center.
In 1702, Christ Church of Philadelphia established a mission Anglican Church in the growing riverfront town of Chester , Pennsylvania . The first service held in the new church was on January 24, 1703. Since this was the day before the Conversion of St. Paul, the Rev. John Talbot, who preached the first sermon on that day suggested the new church take the name of St. Paul . Two relics of those early days still exist. The Queen Anne Silver, presented in 1705, and the Sandelands tombstone which is embedded in the west wall of the nave.
Throughout the 18th century and into the early 19th century, St. Paul's struggled to survive. The low ebb came in 1831 when the Rev. Richard U. Morgan left. There was no rector and there were no communicants. With the appointment of the Rev. John Baker Clemson in 1831, St. Paul's began a long and steady period of growth. In 1850, a new church building was completed and in 1863, with the arrival of the Rev. Henry Brown, St. Paul's began growing. To make room for a growing congregation, a second church, St. Luke's, was built in the South Ward and in 1873 the church building was enlarged.
The Rev. Francis M. Taitt followed the Rev. Brown in 1893 and assured that St. Paul's would have financial stability. He established an endowment in 1913 that carried the church through its lean years. On Easter Sunday, 1900, the present St. Paul's Church was completed at Ninth and Madison Streets. The Rev. Taitt remained as Rector until 1929 at which time he was elected the Ninth Bishop of the Diocese of Pennsylvania.
Church membership peaked in the mid 1960's, but subsequently Chester experienced an economic downturn. Several times in the past few decades we considered relocating the church from Chester to the outlying suburbs, but we concluded that the church should remain as a point of stability in the city.
The present church building is the third in our long history. Located at the corner of Ninth and Madison Streets in Chester, Pennsylvania, this building was completed in the spring of 1900.
St. Paul's is a Gothic Revival church built in the form of a cross, facing toward the east. This orientation allows the morning sun to shine through the large altar window depicting the "Conversion of St. Paul." This window is a masterpiece from the Lewis Comfort Tiffany Studios, as are several others throughout the church. There are also windows produced by the Willetts Studio, another renowned name in stained glass work.
Among the many memorial gifts is an Aeolian-Skinner organ, presented to the church in 1956 by Fredrick Bodiee in memory of his wife Adelaide. This organ is one of the last of those personally built by the founders of this world-renowned organ company and has been maintained in excellent condition.
The bell tower has an eleven-bell carillon, also a gift to the church from the estate of Miss Laura Hard, daughter of The Rev. Anson Hard. The bells were first rung on July 4, 1909, the birthday of Miss Hard. The carillon can be played can be played from a station in the sacristy or from the organ console.
The parish lobby was renovated in 1998. The parking lot was renovated in 2005.The church also owns a small plot of land directly behind the parking lot which is currently being used by Chester Eastside Inc. as a community garden.