NEWBURYPORT — Established in 1711, St. Paul's Episcopal Church saw the American colonies evolve into a country and produced the first Massachusetts Bishop from its pulpit. Now as 2011 is around the corner, St. Paul's is gearing up to celebrate its 300th birthday.
Over the next year, the landmark High Street church will be hosting a series of events in recognition of its third century in Newburyport. The events, which are open to the public, will be focused around three services, which look both to the past and the future, and will include concerts and special gatherings.
"We thought it would be fun to take in the history of the parish in a leisurely way," St. Paul's Rector Martha Hubbard said. "So, we have a number of events to celebrate the church and draw interest into the history by the community."
The celebration will kick off tomorrow with a rededication of the church. A procession will walk through the church labyrinth and through the graveyard in quiet reflection and end at the same cornerstone that was dedicated in 1922 when the current structure was first opened, Hubbard said.
"We want to do this to honor the life of the ministry that has gone on since then," Hubbard said.
Nearly four years of planning went into the yearlong celebration, said Priscilla B. Bellairs, a parishioner since 1985 and member of St. Paul's 300th anniversary committee.
The other two services will take place on the first Sunday of May and the first Sunday in June with each service honoring a different period of the church's history. The final service will be held by the Celtic Cross on Storey Avenue that marks the site of the Queen Ann's Chapel, St. Paul's first home.
Over the centuries, St. Paul's has established itself as a fixture in the community and donates space and services to programs like Harborside Adult Day Care, Strings in Motion, Among Friends, Sangha Meditation Group and many others.