PARISH STORY -HISTORY
In the early 1700s the Church of England had established places of Anglican worship at King's Chapel in Boston as well as a few other parishes in locations immediately along the New England coastline. Colonial settlement in the Massachusetts Bay Colony began to expand inland. No Episcopalian-type worship was available in the "wilderness" beyond the seashore. Reverend Roger Price, Commissary of all New England and Rector of King's Chapel in Boston, recognized the need to provide for the worship of Anglican settlers as they moved inland. He selected Hopkinton, a newly incorporated town 25 miles inland of the coast, as the site of a church. Unable to obtain support from the Bishop of London to fund a parish in the "wilderness,", Reverend Price acted alone. He founded Saint Paul's Parish (Church of England in Hopkinton) as the first inland parish. To do so Reverend Price, of his own means, obtained many parcels of land in Hopkinton, and in 1735 built a small Episcopalian worship house adjacent to the Hopkinton Common at the top of the hill. Incredibly, he then served personally as rector of the Hopkinton parish while also continuing his demanding duties as Commissary of all New England and as Rector of King's Chapel in Boston. Further, he gifted to the parish the largest glebe in the colonies for the future purpose of supporting a replacement full-time priest. He also built his personal residence near the church where later he raised his family until returning home to his native England in 1753. Under his leadership the parish thrived early in its history, blessed to have been founded by this remarkable servant of God.
Since these early days the lives of our community's people have changed remarkedly. Much has changed, but echoes of the beginnings are still discernible and important. The path tred by our parish over almost 300 years since then has included periods of ups and downs. Challenges in the parish's first century included resistance by the congregational church/state/town authorities to the very establishment of an Anglican church in Hopkinton, followed by seizure of our church, land, buildings and property during the Revolution.
Additional challenges greeted the parish in its second century, starting with the destruction of our worship house by a storm, and subsequent destruction of its replacement worship house by fire.
Now in the parish's third century we face an increasing secular culture, with a society whose pace, stress, and full-time family scheduling is detrimental to long-time accepted traditional worship formats. As a result of these and other past challenges, the parish has frequently experienced lack of facilities, money, and members. Despite temporary bouts of self-doubt in our viability, our remaining remnant of members consistently rose to the occasion and the parish persevered.
But while our history includes "downs," it also includes "ups." Experience has strengthened our faith, our confidence, our commitment, our willingness to change, to adapt. The history of Saint Paul's Episcopal Parish contains many "up" significant events, but it is clear that the at the core, we most cherish our most significant "event" --- the consistent way in which the parish has shared God's love: that is, proclaiming that God's love is open to all. Many in our community perceive that core message to be at the heart of Saint Paul's mission. We attempt to convey that message through our words, actions, works, signage and messaging. In a nutshell, our sign in front of our worship house reads "God Loves You. No Exceptions."
This core attitude and vision is felt and welcomed within the community as encapsulating the identity of St. Paul's Parish. Historically it has been a major reason for our continuance as a parish. We anticipate our small church identity in its special role will be basic to our survival as a church over the coming years. By yoking together with other parishes, we have managed to combine the resources needed to accomplish our mission. At the present time we are focused on bringing the religious community together in support of refugees and mutual respect of all faiths and nationalities. We recognize that, like the congregation of today, our parish members in the 1700s also strove to mend rifts and intolerance among the various Christian denominations and to welcome settlers from diverse backgrounds into our community. Now in 2020, as before and hopefully into our fourth century, it is about ecumenicalism. Justice. Partnership. Cooperation. Sharing. Interdependence. Neighborhood. Love. Openness. God's work.