Newburyport News: St. Paul's contributes items to Smithsonian exhibit

View original: Newburyport News

A new exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., includes artifacts contributed by a Newburyport church.  St. Paul's on High Street is the oldest continuing Episcopal church in the United States. After being approached by representatives from the Smithsonian, church leaders agreed to loan select items from the archives for the museum's  “Early Religion in America” exhibit.

The items from St. Paul's date back to the Revolutionary War era; back then, the church was run by British merchants who favored the rebellion, and at one point, the Declaration of Independence was read after some Masses.

At the new exhibit, visitors will find the 1766 Book of Common Prayer used by the Rev. Edward Bass during the Revolutionary War, the original bishop’s mitre finial carved by ship’s figurehead sculptor Joseph Wilson and salvaged from the steeple of the 1800 church after it burned in 1922, and a portrait of the Rev. Edward Bass, was later a bishop.

A replica bishop's mitre carving can be seen on top of the steeple of the church today.

Bass was elected the first bishop of Massachusetts and New Hampshire following the end of the war, and the development of the newly formed Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America. He served as pastor and bishop at St. Paul’s Church for 50 years until his death in 1801.Click the link above to read the full story.