Paul's Church -- OTIS, MA
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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