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old photograph of St. Paul's

The story of Saint Paul's from the book
"A History of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, the First Hundred Years, entitled
"From Blackstone to the Housatonic"

Published by the Diocese in 2002.


Saint Paul's Church -- OTIS, MA

   Set in the beautiful foothills of the Berkshires, St. Paul's Church provides a spiritual home to many vacationers and visitors during the summer months. This important mission is carried on within a rich historical context, which adds to the special appeal of this summer chapel.

  While Episcopalians have been meeting in Otis since 1785, it was not until 1827 that a formal organization, the Protestant Episcopal Society, was established. The cornerstone for the church was laid in 1828 and the building was erected using materials from the area. Over 1,000 panes of antique glass were placed in the Gothic-style windows, which provide a unique perspective on the natural surroundings of the church. St. Paellas was consecrated in 1832 by Bishop Griswold and stands today much as it did then.

  The furnishings at St. Paul's include several pieces originally located at Historic Old North Church in Boston. A beautiful crystal chandelier, reading desk, and pulpit were all acquired in 1830 through the efforts of Rev. Benjamin Parker, then rector of Trinity Church, Lenox, and missionary to St. Paul's. These items are not only a focal point of the interior, but they more importantly serve their original purposes in the weekly services of worship.

  The beautiful organ was built in 1830 by Franklin Whiting of New Haven, Connecticut, and was restored in 1965 by Richard Hamar after falling into severe disrepair. Since there is only minimal electricity in the church, the organ must be manually pumped by the organist, and St. Paul's is fortunate to have both talented and athletic friends who can perform these tasks simultaneously.

  Although St. Paul's has never enjoyed a membership large enough to become an independent parish and now operates under the auspices of St. George's in Lee, it is fortunate to have had many benefactors over the years whose efforts have allowed the church to continue its special mission. May Barton led a restoration effort in the early 1940s, which saved the church from deterioration and disuse. Her vision and leadership led to the establishment of regular Sunday services from mid-June through Labor Day. C.H. Peter Derby then led the church until his death in 1983 when he bequeathed funds to re­store the building inside and out. This gift became the basis for a preservation fund, which is maintained to care for the historic building. Other active leaders of the church have included Edward and Lois Knight, and Bud and Crem Vaughn, who have each left their special mark on St. Paul's.

  The church is currently cared for by an executive committee under the auspices of St. George's, which looks after the day-to-day operations. Summer important services are held at 8:30 on Sunday mornings with visiting clergy officiating.

  As important as the history and facilities of St. Paul's are, the spirit and adds to the mission of the church are more so. Since St. Paul's is a summer parish, it is not the "home church" of anyone who attends. Consequently, those who attend the services are there because they want a place to worship during the summer. The spiritual outweighs the worldly and infuses the worship with a spirit it was not which combined with the surrounding natural beauty makes attending worship at St. Paul's a special experience.

  The special spirit is also evident in the various clergy who serve the parish during its summer seasons. These priests are extraordinarily generous in taking time out of their schedules to serve the parish during its season. Members of the clergy come back year after year to lead the worship here with only a minimal stipend. For this dedication, St. Paul's is truly blessed.

  Since there are no standing committees to take care of the details of weekly services, volunteers are essential. The core of the parish "family" is most generous with their time and talents to perform these necessary tasks, including flower arranging, lay reading, acolytes, and refreshments. This encourages each attendee to feel a part of the church and its functioning. The result is a strong bond among all of those attending. This feeling carries over to financial support given to the church, which allows for the continued maintenance of the historic building, the payment of expenses, and participation in diocesan and world mission projects.

  The spirit of St. Paul's is growing and the next step in the church's mission is to reach out more forcefully to both residents and vacationers in the area. St. Paul's will let them know that there is a caring and active Episcopal community waiting to welcome them to Sunday Worship.


This framed story of some of the elements of St. Paul's church building
can be seen as you enter the building and that article is pictured on the history page.

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