History of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church
The Pioneer Church of Rosedale (1907): St. Peter’s Episcopal Church has the distinction of being the first house of worship to be organized in Rosedale, Queens.In early 1907, a small group of Episcopalians, Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Presbyterians and Baptists, assembled together in a private home in Rosedale, impassioned by their determination to find a permanent place where they could worship and pray. On Saint Peter’s Day, June 29, 1907, this group declared themselves to be Episcopalians and founded the Mission Church, which has been known ever since as St. Peter’s Church, Rosedale.
The Fledgling years of the Mission Church (1907-1922): St. Peter’s was formed as a Mission Church, with the permission of the Rector, Wardens and Vestry of Grace Church, Jamaica, in whose historic boundaries Rosedale is located; but the Mission itself was the result of the evangelical efforts of the people of Christ Church, Lynbrook with whom St. Peter’s shared the spiritual supervision of its Rector, from its formation until 1912.
From its founding until the spring of 1908, the new congregation worshipped in various private residences. One year later, a plot of land was purchased for $700, and on April 19, 1909, the cornerstone for the Church was laid by Bishop Frederick Burgess. The congregation moved into the newly-built basement on the site of our present church.
Early Parish records were quite vague both as to officiating clergy and their official acts here. The first baptism recorded as having taken place in the Church was that of Virginia Lily Steck on August 11th, 1912 by the Reverend J. R. Alten. The first burial was recorded on August 20, 1912 with Father Alten officiating. The first marriage of record was between Joseph Henry Kent and Ida Emma Junkers on December 30th, 1915. The first Confirmation Class of seven presented by Father Alten was confirmed by Bishop Burgess on September 15, 1912. Construction of the new church began 1919 and was completed in 1922 during the pastorate of the Reverend J. Frederick Sabin who was called to St. Peter?s that year. During Father Sabin?s tenure, additional land on 244th Street was purchased.
The Reverend John W. Burris became the first resident Priest of the Parish in 1925 and the rectory was completed in 1928 on the land adjacent to the Church. During Father Burris? pastorate, the Parish purchased the present organ at a cost of $5,000 from a Chinese theatre on Mott Street in New York City.
Elevation to Parish Church (1930s-1940s): Father Burris served until he retired in 1931 and was succeeded by the Reverend George D. Ashley who served the Mission until November 1932. Father Ashley was succeeded by the Reverend Theophilus Harrari who resigned in October 1933. The Reverend
Theodore Patton was called to St. Peter’s in 1933 as his first pastorate, after initially coming to St. Peter’s as a Deacon. He served until his death in 1937, which was a great loss. In the fall of 1937, Father Patton was succeeded by the Reverend Herbert H. Hill. Most of the beautiful stained glass were installed in the windows of the church, and with numerous donations, the Mission purchased many of the items that are customary to an Anglican Church in the worship of Almighty God. Major improvements were made also to the property and plant. St. Peter’s continued as a Mission until May 2, 1945, when Father Hill?s special talent primarily as a pastor of souls, enabled it to become an independent incorporated Parish. St. Peter?s remained with that status until May 21, 1946, when it sought admission as a Parish in the Diocese of Long Island. The new Parish immediately elected Father Hill as its first Rector. He later resigned to accept a charge outside the Diocese on September 30, 1947, and was succeeded by the Reverend Robert J. Torrey on December 13, 1947, as the Second Rector.
(1950s – 1970s): Father Torrey resigned in 1952 and was succeeded by the Reverend Rix Pierce Butler, in November 1952 who became the Third Rector. The Church experienced steady growth, with a congregation of dedicated and committed parishioners, under Father Butler?s leadership until his retirement in 1976. Much of the improvements, furnishings and fixtures were given were given by parishioners during this era, many of which were built and installed by the parishioners themselves. The Vestry elected Father Butler as Rector Emeritus of St. Peter’s and so he enjoyed a long tenure at St. Peter’s having served for twenty-four years.
On December 16, 1976, the Reverend D. Barrington Baltus was called to serve as the Fourth Rector. During the late 1970s there was a decline in the Church and membership waned considerably, making it difficult to secure enough funds to sustain a Rector. However, the Church doors remained opened every Sunday, as Mr. Arthur Rookwood, the Senior Warden, led the congregation in Morning Prayer.
The Challenging Years and Emergence (1980s): Father Baltus left St. Peter’s in 1983 to assume the rectorship of a parish in the southern United States. During the next several years, St. Peter’s was served by a succession of Interim Priests. Among them were the Reverend Patrick Hunt and the Reverend Overton Gilkes.
On January 1, 1988, the Reverend Henry A. Chan, the Fifth Rector was called, and he immediately reminded the Parish that God had not called us to be successful, but to be faithful. This expression resulted in heightened enthusiasm as parishioners became excited, proud, determined, and highly motivated to be faithful as they could to Almighty God.
The Renewal 2000s: Membership grew steadily and St. Peter’s celebrated its Centennial in 2007 in grand style. Father Chan retired in March 2008, having served as Rector for twenty years. For the next several months Mass was conducted by the Reverend Ephraim Goorahoo. In November 2008, the Reverend James D. Manning was appointed to serve as Interim Rector and served until his death in December 2011. From 2012 through 2013, St. Peter’s was served by a succession of supply Priests. In March 2014, The Reverend Steve L. Foster was called as the Sixth Rector of St. Peter’s Church.
Today: St. Peter’s continues to thrive as a small Parish with approximately 250 active members in this community of Rosedale and its surrounding areas. The congregation ranges in age from infants to seniors, with some families comprising more than one generation. The various Ministries of St. Peter’s remain hardworking, dedicated and vibrant. St. Peter’s welcomes new members into the fold, and encourages members to use their time, talent and treasure for the enrichment of the Parish. St. Peter’s is blessed with a rich heritage and liturgy and as we continue in ministry with Father Foster as our spiritual leader, may we fulfill our mission in this community.