1 What’s Happening?
Two of the area’s oldest churches are encouraging the faithful to return to their roots Sunday with special services on their respective historic grounds.
St. Anne’s Episcopal Church will hold its annual Old St. Anne’s Day service at 10 a.m. in its historic 308-year-old parish at 105 Old Saint Anne’s Church Road, Middletown.
Then, at 2 p.m. the Friends of Old Drawyers Church will hold its annual service at their 302-year-old location off of Route 13, north of Odessa.
Both events will feature a talk by guest speaker Franklin Robinson Jr., a professional actor, parish historian and archivist with the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History.
2 What is Old St. Anne’s Day?
Father John D. Stonesifer, the interim rector at St. Anne’s, said about 150 people typically attend the church’s homecoming service, a tradition that dates back more than 50 years.
“It’s a chance for our friends in the community and those who have family ties to our church to come visit and enjoy a service in our historic parish,” he said. “It’s just a really nice day and includes a reception in our gazebo.”
The annual homecoming services used to mark the beginning of the parish’s move from its newer church on East Green Street to the historic Old St. Anne’s Church, where it would meet from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
While the annual homecoming service will still be held at the old church this year, services will continue to be held at the East Green Street church through the rest of the summer, except for a special Labor Day at Old St. Anne’s, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.
3 What is the annual service at Old Drawyer’s Church?
Unlike St. Anne’s, Old Drawyers Church no longer has an active congregation.
But once a year, the Society of Friends of Old Drawyers Church, which has a membership of more than 200 people, pay homage to its rich history by holding a Protestant service open to local community members of all faiths.
“It’s an opportunity for people to visit the historic building and reconnect with the Christian heritage of the area,” said Doug Bennett, president of the Friends of Old Drawyers, which has maintained the property for nearly 120 years. “The annual service has been held every year since 1895 and it’s a tradition we’re very proud to be a part of.”
Page 2 of 2 - State records date the use of the property as far back as the 1670s, although the original wooden church was not constructed until 1711.
In 1773, that structure was replaced by the existing Georgian-style church, which remained in use until sometime around the Civil War, when the congregation split with members joining St. Paul’s Methodist Church on Main Street in Odessa.
Bennett said church fell into disuse until the Friends of Old Drawyers took it over some 30 years later.
The Friends then restored the church, which also was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.
Since then, the organization has opened the church for services once a year, a 118-year-old tradition that will continue on Sunday.