Anglicans in our region first gathered to worship God on the present site of St. Paul’s in the spring of 1811. The site was chosen for its access to the river which, in those days, was the region’s primary mode of transportation, and people came from all over the area to gather and worship there. The members of the first Vestry were from as far away as Rothesay, Upham, French Village, and Lower Norton, which would have been considerable distances before the advent of the automobile.
In spite of the distances, people came and worshipped. In 1819, the Rev. James Cookson, the first Rector of Hampton, reported that the average Sunday attendance was roughly 300 souls. In 1826, during an episcopal visit by Bishop John Inglis, the church building in which services had been conducted for over 15 years was finally consecrated and 123 candidates were confirmed.
The demand for places of worship in the area was met with the completion of many new church buildings, including St. Luke’s, Gondola point in 1835; St. Peter’s, Upham in 1843; St. Andrew’s, French Village in 1846; and Trinity Church, Hammond River in 1854. By 1867 it became evident that St. Paul’s, Hampton was in need of extensive repair, and it was decided that a new church building should be constructed on the same site.
Later that same year, the Ladies Sewing Society approached the parish corporation with the sum of $1400.00 to contribute to the construction of a new building. Two years later, on October 18th, the then brand-new St. Paul’s Church was consecrated by Bishop John Medley at a celebration of the feast of St. Luke. More than 100 years later, in 1985, that very same building underwent extensive renovations to make it better able to serve the ministries and worship of the people of St. Paul’s.
Although not as well documented as the history of our buildings, the real history of this church is the life of faith and mission that has fed and continues to feed our companionship and worship whenever and wherever we gather.
The people of St. Paul’s have been worshiping God and serving their neighbours along the Kennebecasis river and beyond for more than two centuries, and in that time whole generations of people have come to know and experience and grow in the goodness and love of God through Jesus Christ.
That’s the real history of St. Paul’s, the history of God’s faithfulness to his people in this place and their faithful response. That is the history and the future hope that we celebrate whenever and wherever we gather. It’s also the history and the future hope to which our building stands tribute, and for which we will continue to thank and praise God long after this and every other church building is long gone.