Immanuel Episcopal Church

New Castle, New Castle, Delaware, United States

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Description

Founded in 1689, Immanuel Church in New Castle, Delaware is one of the oldest Episcopal parishes in the United States. Immanuel's parishoners have been worshipping on the spot where the church stands for over 325 years. Our history and that of the town of New Castle have always been closely linked, and continue to be so today. A Colonial Church Immanuel Church was founded in 1689 and was the first parish of the Church of England in Delaware (then still part of Pennsylvania). Work on a church building began in 1703, and was mostly completed by 1708. The Reverend George Ross was the first rector of Immanuel, arriving in 1705 as a missionary sent by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. Ross served as rector for Immanuel parish from 1705 until 1708 and then again from 1714 to 1754. Much as we do today, Ross offered two services on Sunday, and administered Holy Communion regularly. He also served in other churches in the area, and was willing to travel to meet the needs of the colonial population. Anglicans were a minority in the colony, which had been heavily settled by Presbyterians, Anabaptists, and Quakers. Ross felt a keen sense of competition, and made it his life's work to bring as many people in the village to Anglicanism as possible. Although he often grumbled about the lack of dedicated attendance, Ross was successful in his goal, and left a flourishing church behind him. Revolutionary Times and Beyond The American Revolution was a difficult time for the Anglican Church in the colonies. As the official state church of England, it struggled to find a role once the United States and England were no longer considered one nation. The church continued to exist and became self-governing as the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America otherwise known as the Episcopal Church after the Revolution. During the later years of the 18th century, the church, known as the "Old Church", had fallen into disrepair to the point where it was dangerous to be inside. The rector at the time, Robert Clay, himself "loaned" the parish 1600 dollars to perform repairs on the church. Despite declining membership, in 1820 the parish decided to invest heavily in improvements to the church building. William Strickland, a noted American architect of the early 19th century, directed these improvements at his own expense, which included the addition of the bell tower and an extension of the transepts. Within a short time, the parish was among the leaders in the diocese and as the Episcopal Church enjoyed a resurgence in the mid-nineteenth century, Immanuel too grew and prospered. Starting in the late 1850s, the interior of the church was changed to suit Victorian tastes. The interior was again altered around 1900, when Victorian elements were replaced with Colonial Revival architectural features. This style reflected an idealized vision of what Immanuel once was, but did not accurately reflect the way the church ever actually looked. From the Ashes On February 1, 1980, embers from a fire in the marsh by the river caught in the wind and landed on Immanuel's roof. The church was badly damaged in the ensuing fire, one of the more traumatic events in the town of New Castle's long history. Talk to any long-time resident of New Castle today, and they most likely will be able to tell you exactly what they were doing when they heard that Immanuel was on fire. Although the building was heavily damaged, the spirit of the congregation remained strong and faithful. They resolved to rebuild the church and continue to worship on the same spot where Anglicans had worshipped for so many years. The church was restored to its 1822 William Strickland design, with modifications to the sanctuary to accommodate modern liturgical needs. The church was rededicated on December 18, 1982. During its long history, Immanuel has had 29 rectors. Always mindful of our past, in the future the parish of Immanuel Church faces many challenges, including decisions about the maintenance of historic buildings in its care and the challenge of maintaining service and fellowship amid the business of modern life.---http://www.immanuelonthegreen.org/
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Immanuel Episcopal Church, Created by timcollins84, New Castle, New Castle, Delaware, United States