St. Paul’s History Project

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Are you curious about the history of this Church? Who were the people who sat in the pews,
what was it like when folks walked through the door, were they radically welcomed, or did they
experience feelings of not belonging? Who were the priests and what was their leadership
style like and how did it influence who we are today? Were there enslaved persons in our
history and what part did they play in the story of our church? Were there people in our parish
who offered their homes as safe houses for the enslaved? All this information is being
researched and gathered by a group of parishioners who have come together to do the work of
drafting a document that reflects the history of this parish and more importantly the role that it
has played during the period of enslavement. The idea behind this look at our history is to help
us as a community and participants in the body of Christ continue to uncover our past in order
to build awareness, understanding, and reconciliation, as we seek to realize the Beloved
Community envisioned by Jesus. The Episcopal Church in Connecticut of which we If are a part,
is calling on all churches in our diocese “to fully embody and live into God’s realm of justice,
peace and reconciliation” through learning more about our history as a parish.
In so doing, it is important to develop knowledge through discovery and to work toward
bringing new evidence to light “to grow in clarity and truth.” As Father Daniel mentioned in a
recent sermon story telling is truth telling and so we are hoping that we can involve families
in our parish in this project as are willing to tell their stories. We all have stories to share about
St. Paul’s particularly those of us of a certain age who have been here for many years. We are
interested in hearing from you about your own past experiences of bias or exclusion (or
inclusion and learning), or experiences remembered from others in earlier days. We hope to
put these stories together in a podcast which will become an important part of our history and
learning and will remain in perpetuity for generations to come. The stories that can be told will
definitely help us as a parish better understand the realities of the early historical context in
Connecticut — as acknowledged by our Diocese, it is also “a context within which many of the
older Episcopal parishes in the state find their origins.” If you are interested in this please let
Marsha Dunn in the parish office ( know and she will give you my contacts.
This is but one of the opportunities open to parishioners in our history project. If you like
sorting and cataloguing, we have a job for you too! We have loads of archives and photographs
but not everything is in order. Perhaps one Saturday you might want to come and help us
find and catalogue things. Kids are also welcome to help with this effort as well as there will
be enough for them to do that will be fun and a learning experience.
If you are a history buff and want to help us with research, do feel free to come to our bi-
weekly meeting held at Mill Hill. Give me your name and I will add you to our mailing list.
much can be accomplished in this pursuit, if parish communities renew their commitment to
explore their past history and to identify the stories that can be told that might help us better
understand the realities of the early historical context in Connecticut — a context within which
many of the older Episcopal parishes in the state find their origins.

As we begin this work here is a prayer I have adapted that the History Project members hope
all parishioners will pray daily as we begin our work of discovery together:

“Enriched by cultures born into and discovered;
as people wounded by racism;
as people yearning for healing;
as people working for the Kingdom..
We come into this space
with an openness to discovery;
with a commitment to working for reconciliation;
with a willingness to challenge and be challenged;
with anticipation of discovery.
Christ, come near us.
We come into this space,
to spend time with the Scriptures;
to learn about prejudice;
to become aware of privilege;
to explore cultures;
to encourage each other to action.
Holy Spirit, bless our time together.”

Gail Bindley-Taylor

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