We see a future in Chester!
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Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the
works of darkness, and put upon us the armor of light, now
in the time of this mortal life in which thy Son Jesus Christ
came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when
he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the
quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through
him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Morning Prayer is held at 9:00 on Sunday morning in the church.
The service is also live-streamed and available after the service on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/stpaulschesterpa
Holy Eucharist will resume in December
Wednesday Morning Prayer is held at 10:00 in the church 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,
The Wardens and Vestry of St. Paul’s Chester are thrilled to announce that The Rev. Lawrence (Larry) Civale has accepted our call to join us as our Deacon in Charge beginning September 1, 2020. Having been ordained a Transitional Deacon in June 2020 he will be eligible to be ordained to the Priesthood in 6 months. After this ordination he will be our Priest in Charge. Parishioners will be able to welcome and greet him at the virtual coffee hour following our 9 am Zoom service on August 2. Please see his bio in his message below.
Deacon Civale shared, “I feel honored to be called to lead with you as we begin a new chapter in the parish’s life. I am very excited to be joining your parish as we begin our ministry together in September.”
Senior Warden Harold J. Whartnaby is delighted: “This chapter of our journey is now complete, I so look forward to welcoming Deacon Larry to our St. Paul's Family and only wish him the very best as we begin the next chapter.”
After a thorough and extensive search process, the Vestry voted unanimously to invite Deacon Larry to partner with St. Paul’s. This was a deeply spiritual process for the vestry and search committee. Larry stood out for many reasons, his preaching style, professional background in social work and his friendly demeanor.
The Vestry is grateful to all who prayed and helped during this time of transition, especially, The Rev. Dr. Lula Grace Smart, our deacon, Marj Oughton, Organist, Brad Bonham and various supply priests. We are also thankful to Bishop Daniel Gutierrez for his leadership.
Our Finance Warden, Nancy Crossman, is very pleased with the outcome of the transition process and we are grateful to The Rev. Canon Arlette Benoit Joseph for her diligence in assisting us this past year.
We look forward to welcoming Deacon Civale into our St. Paul’s family.
Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. So Jesus asked the twelve, ‘Do you also wish to go away?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’ John 6:66-69
During this time of physical isolation, we have become connected in ways many could not have imagined three months ago. Virtually, we have seen creative and innovative ways to maintain our deep desire for relationship. At the same time, this present virtual reality has allowed for the expression of our longings, desires, and opinions, especially when it comes to the church. Through social media, numerous exchanges speak of the need to “change the church, be innovative and not waste this opportunity.” Yes, the church must change. At the same time, many argue that “we must maintain the tradition of the church, and not sacrifice tradition simply for innovation.” Yes, we must maintain our heritage as faith must have both revelation and tradition. I pray these discussions continue and are deep, prayerful, and thoughtful as the dialogue is necessary.
However, in all the discussions, something seems to be missing. I wonder how many of us have reflected on the necessity of internal transformation as opposed to the demand that all other things change - structures, institutions, people. The personal aspect of “how I need to change” (aside from the conversations regarding overeating and exercise). We must endeavor to seek a deeper connection to God. I suspect we all desire a rebirth of the church that comes alive through liturgy, music, and growth. However, if we are not prepared to change internally, how can we expect the church to change. We will approach the same issues in the same way with the expectation that everyone and everything should change. The old solution to every problem is a hammer. We need to deepen our faith and allow God’s will to be revealed. This is an opportunity to go deeper; with God and one another.
Let’s not squander this opportunity to be born again. Lord, to whom can we go?
We have the chance to allow God to work through us as empty vessels, to be reshaped and renewed. I doubt any of us genuinely want things as they always were. To allow God to work in us, let God’s will be fully revealed. We can seek how God is awakened, and we can realize our long-forgotten prayers. Perhaps during this time, we can foretaste the totality of life and not a small section of our own personal beliefs. Our deepening relationship with Christ allows us to respond with forgiveness, understanding, and love rather than to simply react or resist with emotion. Instead of worrying about keeping things out, we allow the beauty of the Holy One into every pore of our being.
Lord knows that I have too many faults to discuss or attempt to resolve at one time, but I must try because I truly love this church. Thus, I have been reflecting not only on those inadequacies and the need to transform but my hopes, prayers, and dreams for the time after isolation. I found I need to sit in silence with greater frequency. I need to step away from the computer and pray before responding. I need to trust in God and God’s plan. I need to pray. In our noonday prayer community, we are making space for Jesus 10 times a day for 5 minutes at a time. Perhaps I am attempting to hide inside God and allow the light of the Holy One to filter through into my innermost being. To do my best to hold what is sacred both tightly and gently without leaving my fingerprints all over it. To find a new life, divine tranquility, a holy presence. Perhaps allow God’s will for me to take over the plans I have made for myself. I also find it comforting to know that God has far more belief in me than I have in myself.
In times such as these, at the door of the old and the new, I often hear my grandmother’s voice. She was the person of the most profound faith I have known. When she was not praying, she was helping. She would always greet each day, each problem, or each celebration with the words: “God willing and with God’s blessing.” Yes, we have work to do, the need to change the church and strengthen our traditions and faith. How are we preparing ourselves for the work to come? “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
Your brother in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Daniel G. P. Gutiérrez
XVI Bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania
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 economic decline, and now Chester is one of the poorest cities in Pennsylvania. This presents us with a considerable challenge as we strive to maintain 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.
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