Chillicothe, a town brimming with history and rich with architectural treasures, will be center stage for St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Bicentennial Celebration on April 23, 2017 at 10 a.m. and April 30 at 3 p.m. The church is located at 33 East Main Street.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church was founded on April 5, 1817. To visualize the historical perspective of April 5, 1817, James Monroe was the fifth president of the United States, Indiana had become the 17th state of the Union, construction of the Erie Canal would begin in July and Baltimore became the first U.S. city with gas lights.

At the first meeting, it was decided to establish a congregation by the name of St. Paul’s Church.  A constitution was quickly adopted and the church officers were elected. For several years services were held in the Ross County Court House and the Masonic Lodge. In 1820, a committee was formed to purchase land to build a church on Walnut Street. It was consecrated on September 12, 1821, by the bishop and was the first consecrated Episcopal Church west of the Alleghenies. The current building, located, downtown Chillicothe, Ohio was constructed September 5, 1834.

The bicentennial anniversary will be celebrated with multiple events throughout the celebratory  year, each open to the public and including visiting dignitaries. A historical presentation of church memorabilia, photographs, and clothing will be on display in the church library during each event.

On April 23, 2017 a historically accurate worship service will be celebrated with liturgy and readings from the 1789 Book of Common Prayer. Period hymns and music selections will include pipe organ, violin and soprano soloist Janet McMahon. Many parishioners will be dressed in period costumes.

The service will be followed by a tea reception in the Saint Paul’s Church Great Hall, open to the public. Former Curator of Adena Mansion and Gardens, Mary Anne Brown, will provide an oral presentation, which will attest to the many connections between Adena Mansion, Ohio Governor Thomas Worthington and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Governor Worthington’s son, James T. Worthington, donated 10,000 bricks for the construction of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. The official church records include the following entries for the Worthington family: 3 daughters and 1 son were married, 7 grandchildren were baptized, 1 daughter was confirmed and 1 grandson and 1 son-in-law had their funerals at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

On April 30, a free community music concert will be held at 3 p.m.  As people arrive, beginning at 2:30 p.m., the CHS String Ensemble, under the direction of Mr. Luke Furniss, will perform Baroque selections. Mayor Luke Feeney will deliver a proclamation. Special guest Bishop Thomas Breidenthal will attend, as well as other visiting deacons, priests and dignitaries.  Our featured musical group is the 73rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment Band.  This organization exists for the purpose of enriching, edifying, and entertaining the modern public with historically authentic music and playing techniques contemporary of the time period of the War of the Rebellion. The 73rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment Band, under the direction of John M. Huffman, Jr., is based in Waverly, Ohio, with its talented members residing throughout the state of Ohio.

Following the concert, a free community reception will follow in the church Great Hall. The historical presentation will continue to be on display in the church library. A slide show consisting of various historical items of the church, old photographs, and memorabilia too difficult to display in the library, will be projected onto a screen in the Great Hall during the reception.

“Our goal is to focus on themes that reflect our history and values,” stated Kris Baker, bicentennial chairman and church secretary. “No bicentennial celebration would be complete without a documented history book left for future generations,” concluded Betsy Story. In the fall 2017, following a 10am service, the Bicentennial History Book will be presented. Copies will be available to the congregation, the diocese and the general public of Ross County. A video presentation of past and present parishioners has recorded their relationship to St. Paul’s Church, expressed their favorite memory concerning St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, and captured their vision for the future of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in the next 50 years.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church has had a diverse history. We believe Christ is calling us into meaningful connections with our community that transcend the boundaries of race, color, politics, economic status or sexual orientation. We welcome everyone.

Parishioner Donna Nickerson, was quoted, “Our 2017 bicentennial is an opportunity to recommit to what is best about St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and to making our congregation and community even better and stronger for those who follow.” Our goal is to honor the past and present members of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, to promote Ross County as a positive place to live and visit and to build upon the many historical attractions present in Ross County, and continue to showcase downtown Chillicothe.  In lieu of the negative impact the drug epidemic has had on Ross County, and the state of Ohio, we want to share the positive impact a religious organization can and has had upon a community and the rich heritage that St. Paul’s Episcopal Church has brought to the Scioto Valley for the past 200 years by providing religious services to its members and providing outreach to the community of Chillicothe.

~Submitted by Kris Baker, St. Paul’s, Chillicothe