History

Like many of the first-century communities established by St. Paul, our parish began as a house church.

1861

A small group of Malden residents drawn to the witness and worship of The Episcopal Church gathered for worship in each other's homes. Soon, however, increasing numbers led them to secure a hall – Good Templars' Hall – over a store on Irving Street. Initially a lay-led endeavor, the group was able to engage the Rev. W.H. Monroe of Trinity Church, Melrose, for Evening Prayer on Sunday, September 30, 1861, the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels ('Michaelmas').

Within a month

The group associated themselves by written agreement as the Grace Church Episcopal Society. By December, the society moved to a larger hall over the waiting room and ticket offices of the original Boston and Maine Railroad Station on Summer Street (now Pearl Street Station Restaurant). One member commented that it was "a noisy and objectionable place, but the only one to be obtained."

The church lacked resources and at first depended on the voluntary services of area clergy, among them the Rev. Dr. Frederic D. Huntington, later first Bishop of the Diocese of Central New York. For the next several years, without benefit of resident clergy and a formal church building, the society alternately waxed and waned.

April 22, 1867

In a parallel development, a group of 11 newcomers to Malden – unaware of the Grace Church Episcopal Society – organized themselves as "St. Paul's Church and Parish." Shortly thereafter, the Grace Church society was dissolved and its assets transferred to St. Paul's Church.

The Following Year

St. Paul's called its first rector, the Rev. George Putnam Huntington, son of The Rt. Rev. Dr. Frederic. In collaboration with parish lay leaders and other Episcopal parishes in the area, Rev. Huntington was able to raise sufficient funds to construct a church. Subsequently, the lot on Washington Street on which the present Parish House stands was purchased. 

July 13, 1871

The corner stone of the original wooden church was first laid.

May 23, 1872

The completed church was consecrated.

October 4, 1884

Rev. Huntington was unflagging in his efforts to build up the parish. His successes, however, came at a cost to his health and he reluctantly resigned.

His successor, the Rev. John Milton Peck, was determined not to meet the same fate as his predecessor. The parish, however, had difficulty adjusting to Rev. Peck's perhaps more balanced approach to his work. His rectorate was a short one, lasting less than two years.

October 15, 1887

St. Paul's third rector, the Rev. George Alexander Strong, was called. During his tenure, the church interior was refurbished and parish debts retired.

April 18, 1891

The Rev. Samuel R. Fuller was instituted as fourth Rector. His outstanding preaching skills drew new parishioners as well as publicity. There was a downside to his well-deserved fame. His divorce – prior to his ordination – came to light. Given the norms of the time, he was forced to resign, an outcome that alienated many in the parish.

After the rupture caused by Rev. Fuller's hasty departure, parishioner morale needed a boost. The Rev. Frederick Edwards, St. Paul's fifth rector, provided it. Under Rev. Edwards, the parish experienced phenomenal growth, expanded considerably the church's seating capacity, and established a boy choir. Due to his efforts, property on the corner of Washington and Florence Streets – where the present church stands – was acquired.

1905

The calling of the Rev. William E. Dowty proved to be momentous for the parish. Shortly after his arrival, Mrs. Mary Oakes Atwood died and bequeathed $40,000.00 to "build a church, or portion thereof." Pre-eminent neo-gothic architect Ralph Adams Cram was contracted to build new St. Paul's. Cram called St. Paul's his finest small church.

March 12, 1913

The cornerstone was laid.

November 16, 1913

While Cram's full design could not be carried out – the church was formally consecrated by the Right Reverend William A. Lawrence Bishop of Massachusetts.

Under a succession of extremely competent and creative rectors, the parish grounds, chancel, and nave were furbished with elements that fit Cram's neo-gothic vision.

1949-1957

Building on the initiative of the Rev. Daniel A. Bennett, the Rev. Ernest D. Sillers, St. Paul's tenth rector oversaw enlargement of the Parish House (the former original church) and its redesign to conform to the neo-gothic exterior of the Cram church.

1958

The Rev. Charles C. Boyd, Jr., was called as eleventh rector.

June, 1961

Unfortunately, Rev. Charles C. Boyd, Jr.'s ministry at St. Paul's was cut tragically short. He died after a brief illness, leaving a grief-stricken family and parish. Nonetheless, his legacy of community outreach and Christian formation endures.

The Following Decade

Responding to the challenges and opportunities, St. Paul's next rector, the Rev. G. Charles Rowe, emphasized the parish's commitment to the civil rights movement, religious education, and liturgical reform.

1975

The Rev. Jürgen Liias was welcomed as rector and the parish subsequently experienced a period of strong growth, welcoming many new and younger families. An exponent of the charismatic movement, the Rev. Liias introduced healing ministries and liturgies that appealed to many. Perhaps the program of greatest impact in those years was the Bread of Life meals program (originally "Cooks for Christ"). This program for the homeless and the needy continues today as a separate corporation in Malden. St. Paul's is the principal host in Malden.

1990

After the departure of the Rev. Liias, St. Paul's entered a period of varying degrees of stability under several clergy. Lacking a consensus over its identity – particularly with respect to liturgical styles and social issues – the parish experienced difficulty retaining old members and attracting new ones.

These difficulties reflected the issues transforming the Episcopal Church as a whole. The ordination of women as priests and bishops, support for all choice options in pregnancy, the acceptance of LGBTQ+ people in all Church roles, even concerns about divorced clergy-- these were issues that affected St. Paul's, as well as the larger Episcopal Church.

Installed clergy during this period included the Reverends Thomas Minifie and Michael Cheney. The Reverend Sathi Clarke (of the Church of South India), the Reverend Elise Kinney and the Reverand JC Woods also served the Parish as interim priests appointed by the diocese; these proved instrumental in healing divisions in the parish.

December, 2004

Appointed St. Paul’s Priest-In-Charge, the Reverend John R. Clarke and newly energized lay leadership revitalized St. Paul’s with the mission “Welcoming and service all in Christ’s name”. Worship in the Anglo-Catholic tradition, excellence in preaching, renewed Christian formation, a progressive stance on “hot-button’ social issues and social outreach as well as expanded stewardship and effective administration marked Fr. Clarke’s ministry at St. Paul’s. Growth has been exciting and gratifying, owing to parishioners’ new-found pride in St. Paul’s and their eagerness to share the “Good news of God in Christ”. This growth also led to a strong Sunday School and Acolyte program. 

During this time, St. Paul’s re-established itself as a cornerstone of the Malden community participating in the Harvest Moon Festivals and Malden’s Parade of Holiday Traditions as well as our own Yuletide Markets and Antiques Shows. The church also formed partnerships with The Malden Girl Scouts and the Tufts University Sharewood Project. Parishioners eagerly participated in Boston’s Gay Pride Parade and the Women’s Marches as well as other social justice demonstrations.

September, 2007

The first same-sex marriage in our parish was performed with the union of the Rev. John R. Clarke and William J. Theisen.

May, 2016

The Rev. John R. Clarke was installed as Rector of St. Paul’s by the Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates, Bishop of MA. Following his installation as Rector, the parish continued to grow and be active in the community. 

Fr. Clarke retired from active ministry in June 2018.

July, 2018

St. Paul’s went through a 5-month period of supply clergy including 3 months with the Rev. Mary Jane “Janie” Donohue as Bridge Priest.

December, 2018

The Rev. Dr. Lisa R. Fortuna was called as Priest-in-Charge.

Rev. Lisa brought with her a renewed energy and continued to connect the parish with social issues in Malden and beyond. Under her guidance, the parish transformed our mission statement and logo into the first parish t-shirt helping to further our parish pride and community.

Rev. Lisa also lead the parish in the process of “Appreciative Inquiry” which helped us in creating our parish profile. She also held the First Blessing of the Animals on the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.

Rev. Lisa’s time at St. Paul’s was shorter than anticipated when, as a bi-vocational clergy person, she received a once-in-a-lifetime secular job opportunity in California. In November of 2019, we bid a sad farewell to Rev. Lisa, her wife Michele and their family.

December, 2019 to Present

The Rev. Stephen O. Voysey joined St. Paul’s as our Bridge Priest. Rev. Stephen was just settling in with his ministry at St. Paul’s when Covid-19 struck, and in-person worship stopped. 

Together with the lay leadership, Rev. Stephen continued to keep the parish connected using both old and new ways of communication. 

In the spring of 2020, the parish began to record monthly services using only a cell phone and a small group of socially distanced parishioners. The videos were edited by a parish volunteer and uploaded to YouTube. Through these efforts, St. Paul’s was chosen as one of three parishes for a technology grant pilot program. This Diocesan Technology grant allowed the parish to purchase video and audio equipment to live stream weekly services. With the help of a Diocesan volunteer technology steward and parish volunteers, we have been streaming weekly services for most of 2021. 

Rev. Stephen has helped us adjust to the world of Zoom as we have held monthly Vestry meetings and weekly Regathering Task Force Meetings, as well as various formation opportunities and a surprisingly well attended 2021 Annual Meeting via Zoom.

We have returned to limited in-person worship under the guidelines set forth by the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts and we continue to live-stream our weekly services for those who are unable to join us in person at this time. Rev. Stephen continues to guide us through what it means to be a church during this time of Covid.