Messiah, Woods Hole celebrates 125 years

The Church of the Messiah this summer is celebrating its stone church and the man who built it, Woods Hole, Messiah Church of the Messiah, Woods Hole as well as its mission in the village of Woods Hole.

“Honoring the Past, Celebrating the Present, Embracing the Future” is the theme for the 125th anniversary of the granite, Gothic-style church that stands beside Little Harbor. It is home to Cape Cod’s oldest Episcopal parish, according to a news release from the parish.

“This is indeed a beautiful church, but we are not merely looking back,” said the Rev. Deborah Warner, the 14th rector to serve at the church, which was constructed in 1888 and consecrated on July 2, 1889. “This celebration is also about where we are now and looking forward. If we do not do that, we would fail as a faith community.”

The signature events are scheduled for the weekend of July 20-21, to include a New England clambake and lobster feed at 5 p.m. Saturday and a special service at 10 a.m. Sunday. Architectural historian Richard Carter will present a program about the church’s history at noon on Aug. 21. Numerous concerts and other special events are scheduled at the church this summer. All events are open to the public.

The Church of the Messiah was originally organized in Woods Hole in 1852. Summer resident Joseph Story Fay, a deeply religious businessman and philanthropist, was instrumental in bringing the Episcopal movement to the village. He donated the land and financed the construction of the first church, built of wood, and then had the stone church built at the same place 36 years later.

Today, the church of 245 members is a spiritual center in a special place.  Woods Hole is home to the world-renowned Marine Biological Laboratory and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and many other scientific organizations. “It is a village church in an international scientific community. We have visitors from Hong Kong, Korea, Germany, Kenya and many other places around the world every year,” Warner said. “We are probably unique on the Cape.”