St Pauls Episcopal Church History
St. Paulís Church, Greenville, has a vibrant, colorful history, with origins
dating from the mid-18th century colonial period. The people of what became
Pitt County received occasional services of the Church of England from the
Rev. Alexander Stewart, rector of the Parish of St. Thomas, Bath, in Beaufort
County, out of which Pitt County and St. Michaelís Parish were formed in 1760.
An assembly of freeholders elected the parishís first vestry, and early
services were held in the county courthouse. When the town of Martinsborough
(which later became Greenville) was established on land owned by Richard and
Susanna Coutanch Evans, plans were made for construction of public buildings,
including a church. None of these early buildings still stands. During the
Revolutionary and early federal periods, St. Michaelís had no regular worship
services, but beginning in 1816, was visited by the Rev. Nathaniel Blount who
also served congregations in Beaufort and Hyde Counties. Blount had taken
part in efforts in the 1790s to form a Protestant Episcopal diocese. When the
diocese finally became functional in 1817, it still did not have its own
bishop, but received Episcopal visitations from the Rt. Rev. Richard Channing
Moore, Bishop of Virginia. Bishop Moore preached several times in Greenville
During 1825-1826, the Rev. Joseph Pierson of St. Peterís Church, Washington,
North Carolina, visited Greenville to initiate a Protestant Episcopal
congregation and perform baptisms. The first visit to Greenville by a Bishop
of North Carolina occurred in May 1825, when the Rt. Rev. John Stark
Ravenscroft preached to the few Episcopalians and other area residents. Two
church members represented the congregation at the 1827 diocesan convention.
That year, the Greenville Episcopal group became known as St. Jamesís
Congregation and continued for several years to be served by rectors of St.
Peterís, Washington, and missionaries from adjoining counties. On December
1, 1846, the congregation was taken in charge by the Rev. Nicholas Collin
Hughes, and reorganized as St. Paulís Parish. It was formally admitted into
the Diocese of North Carolina in May 1847.
The congregation received its first building in 1848 when a half-acre lot on
Greenvilleís Pitt Street was purchased for $50. Through the generosity of
Nymphus A. Price, who made available the services of his two expert enslaved
carpenters, a small and unpretentious wooden church was erected and an altar
and rail, pulpit and lectern, and white painted pews were installed.
Household chairs were used in the chancel; a communion service was acquired;
a small cut glass fruit stand served for the font; oil lamps furnished the
light; and a melodeon, lent by a parishioner, accompanied the singing of the
hymns. The church was consecrated by Bishop Thomas Atkinson on October 31,
1855. Services were provided in St. Paulís by dedicated rectors of
neighboring parishes, missionaries, and chaplains, sometimes themselves
refugees from their own fields, during the war years, 1861-1865.
In 1866, Mr. Hughes returned to serve St. Paulís until 1891, except for brief
periods of illness when he was relieved by the Revs. Israel and Nathaniel
Harding. The original church building was used until 1885, when it was sold
to the Roman Catholics and moved to Second Street. This building has since
been demolished. A new brick church was built and improvements were gradually
added. When the Diocese of East Carolina was formed in 1883, St. Paulís
Parish was admitted, and the dioceseís first bishop, the Rt. Rev. Alfred A.
Watson, consecrated the new church.
Slowly the parish and its activities grew. The first rectory, located at
Third and Greene Streets, was built during the tenure (1912-1914) of Rev.
Dallas Tucker. During the next few years, the church acquired a pipe organ
and initiated a choir and altar guild. Memorial offerings provided new
communion service, altar vases, an alms basin, and a processional cross. The
need for a larger church was strongly felt, and for several years plans were
formulated and discussed.
St. Paulís Episcopal Church
In 1930, under the leadership of Rev. William A. Lillycrop, the East Fourth
Street building, which is now the chapel, and the first parish house were
completed. Comfortable quarters for the Church School and proper facilities
for the Women of the Church were provided. A fellowship center, Friendly Hall,
was furnished by the diocese to expand the work among the students of East
Carolina College. In 1958, additions were built onto the churchís Third
Street side, including classrooms, an assembly hall and kitchen facilities.
With the expansion of East Carolina Teachers College into East Carolina
College, then eventually to East Carolina University, the program carried on
by the rector and parish workers through the Canterbury Club developed into a
campus ministry with a college chaplain beginning in 1954. St. Lukeís Church,
Winterville, begun in 1902, was a parochial shrine of St. Paulís from 1954
until its deconsecration in 1960. A mission congregation for Greenvilleís
African-American community, St. Andrewís, was formed about 1910, and merged
in 1970 with St. Paulís. The St. Andrewís building was later used for a St.
Paulís project, the Bonnerís Lane Day Care Center, which served children in
west Greenville for a number of years.
Various plans for the enlargement of St. Paulís worship space or removal to a
new site to meet the needs of a growing congregation resulted in a decision
by the vestry and congregation to refurbish the existing plant and form a new
mission congregation, appropriately named St. Timothyís, which was organized
in December 1977. During the quarter of a century after 1980, St. Paulís
Episcopal Church in Greenville has evolved from a pastoral-sized church to an
energetic program-sized church. The parish renovated its old buildings and
built a spacious new worship space. However, parishioners have maintained
their commitment to traditional worship and ministry.
Expansion plans were already in progress during the latter years of the
rectorship of Rev. Lawrence Patrick Houston (1968-1992), and St. Paulís new
400-seat church building was completed during the Rev. C. Thomas Midyetteís
tenure (1994-2004) with its first service held on Christmas Eve 1999. The
building features cathedral seating and was designed to accommodate a large
organ made by C.B. Fisk of Gloucester, Massachusetts, and scheduled for
installation during 2005. Substantial contributions to both projects were
provided by charitable foundations established by church members James J. and
Mamie Richardson Perkins and Mildred Sheffield Wells. In developing plans for
the church, Fr. Midyette and the vestry provided an inspiring but flexible
worship space that is regularly used by faculty and student performers of the
East Carolina University School of Music as well as by community musicians.
In addition to musical events, it was envisioned that the space could be used
for art showings for visual arts. Although much of the churchís energy has
been directed inward, members serve in many outreach ministries. Considerable
financial support for local projects as well as service to the church is
provided by St. Paulís two Episcopal Churchwomen chaptersóSt. Lydiaís and the
combined Sts. Martha, Mary, and Anneís.
Noteworthy events have recently interrupted the rhythm and pattern of worship.
Late in 1989, continued acts of vandalism in the church forced the vestry to
end its longstanding policy of leaving the worship space open 24 hours a day.
In 1999 Greenville and Pitt County were devastated by flooding caused by
Hurricane Floyd, and many parish members devoted time, talent, and financial
resources to the recovery effort. St. Paulís choir accepted an invitation to
sing in Gloucester England in the summer of 2000. On February 2001, the Most
Rev. Frank T. Griswold, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church presided
over a Festival Eucharist bringing together the whole diocese.
The Rev. Robert A. Hudak began his tenure at St. Paulís in November 2005.
Under his leadership, St. Paulís has been doing significant organizational
work and has begun to welcome even more members into our midst. Associate
rectors who have served St. Paulís since 1959 include: the Rev. Richard N.
Ottaway (1959-1964), the Rev. Joseph W. Arps (1973-1975), the Rev. John Price
(1976-1979), the Rev. Dana Pecheles (1979-1983), the Rev. Middleton L. Wooten
(1984-1992), the Rev. Thomas G. Cure (1994-1999), the Rev. Charles T. Dupree
(1999-2004), and the Rev. Ann Bonner-Stewart (2006-2009). College chaplains
included Fr. Houston (1964-1969), the Rev. William Hadden (1969-1985), Fr.
Cure, and Fr. Dupree. The Rev. Patricia Thomas assisted St. Paulís from
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