In 1809 there were 30 Anglicans who regularly gathered for worship and Communion in Hampton. But in 1809 there were no Anglican church buildings in Hampton, so they must have gathered in one of their homes. On September 10th, however, in 1810, it was decided that a “decent building” should be constructed to serve the “public worship of Almighty God,” to accommodate not only the Anglican inhabitants of Hampton, but of Kingston and Norton as well (First Subscription for St. Paul’s Church in the Parish of Hampton.1810).
By the spring of 1811, the frame of the first St. Paul’s church building was raised, closed in, and made acceptable for worship services. In the meantime, the number of worshipers increased from 30 to 41 people!
But the story of St. Paul’s church building doesn’t end there. In 1869 the people of St. Paul’s decided that it was time to make a significant change. They tore down the original church building and in 1871 finished construction on a new building in time to be consecrated by the Bishop of Fredericton on October 18th. But even that wasn’t really the church building that we know today.
In 1985, more than 100 years after it’s consecration, the second St. Paul’s church building underwent major renovations and additions, to create the building in which we gather for worship and Communion today.
Through all those architectural changes, however, and in the midst of all kinds of other changes that have taken place in and around St. Paul’s over the years, the purpose of our building has remained the same, and really, it’s that purpose that has kept St. Paul’s standing all these years.
It doesn’t matter how “historical” or architecturally appealing our building is. There are lots of people who admire our building and its history and feel a strong sentimental attachment to our building, but there are only a few people who work to keep it up. The people who really maintain St. Paul’s are the people who know and value its purpose, who truly value and are dedicated to the public worship of Almighty God.
Over the next four weeks we’re going to take a good hard look at what really keeps this church standing and together, but we’re not going to look at the physical foundation of our building. We’re going to look at the spiritual foundations of our worship. We are going to look at the things on which the purpose of St. Paul’s, the worship of Almighty God, either stands or falls.
We’re going to start this Sunday by looking at the way God has welcomed us unconditionally into his life and presence not just to worship him but to revel in all his goodness and love through the life of his Son Jesus. We’re going to look at one of Jesus’ most famous stories, the story of the “Prodigal Son.” It’s an example of both the welcome that God extends to us and the welcome that he calls us to extend to others, especially when we gather to worship him.
I hope you’re able to gather with us this Sunday to worship and to experience God’s welcome.
Rev. David Turner