Our History

Read what JoAnne Viviano of The Romeo Observer wrote about St. Paul's 80th anniversary on November 18, 1992.

St. Paul's Congregation Celebrates 80 Years

St. Paul's Episcopal Church celebrated 80 years of service this month.

"We reach out to people," said the Reverend Alexander Raymond Babin, commenting on the unique quality of the members of this congregation. "People have a willingness to share what they have with people who don't have. Even in the midst of their own difficulties, they still share with others."

Babin, the congregation's rector for the past 16 years, said he has seen this generosity increase over the past 12 or 13 years.

However, the church's history goes back much further.

According to Babin, the establishment of St. Paul's in 1912 represents the third attempt to found an Episcopal church in the area.

The first attempt, Trinity Mission, began about 1871 when several clergy came to Romeo and held all-day services which included instruction on the faith and practices of the church.

The Reverend Ammi M. Lewis then took charge of the mission, earning an annual salary of $1400. The congregation met in the Opera House and Trinity lasted for 12 to 15 years. During this time Christian education classes were formed and met in the Bailey home on south Main Street (the home more recently served as the rectory of St. Clement of Rome Catholic Church). Twenty nine students were presented for confirmation the initial year.

The church lasted for about 12-15 years, when interest dwindled and services were discontinued .

A second church, St. James, was established in the mid-1890's and lasted until just past the turn of the century, Babin said.

A third group of people informally began St. Paul's in 1911, meeting in the Opera House, where lay readers performed services.

St. Paul's Episcopal Church was officially organized in 1912 as a mission of St. Paul's Cathedral in Detroit. The first vicar assigned to the mission was The Reverend Herbert A. Daly.

A stone church was built in 1914, on the northeast corner of Bailey and East Newberry Streets and was dedicated in November 1915. It cost $7,000.

In the fall of 1927, Batchelder Hall, a boarding school for boys, was established and housed in Romeo. The building, grounds, and $40,000 were a gift to the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Michigan from the late Mr. John D. Batchelder, who had willed the the home be name the "Sarah Clark Home" (after his mother) and serve needy boys. The school lasted for several years, but was closed down during the depression.

The stone church burned down in 1960, only two days after Christmas.

An eyewitness writes, "The flame tore through the roof as from a blast furnace; the heat melted the lead in the precious 19th century stained glass windows, and they crumpled into worthless rubble. When it was all over, huge misshapen icicles clung to the soot black flooring, beneath the altar."

The lot was sold to Bruce Township in August 1961 and became the site of the Township Hall.

Following the fire, the congregation met at the Youth Center for three years. In 1961, Alex and Mary Alice Galton donated 12 ½ acres of property on West St. Clair to the church. Bishop Archie H. Crowley presided over the groundbreaking ceremony in June 1963. The first service in the new church was at 10 a.m. on March 15, 1964.

On June 14, 1964 the church was formally dedicated by Bishop Emrich.

The church was consecrated at the burning of the mortgage in May 23, 1976 by Archdeacon William Logan.

Since 1872, 20 vicars have served the members of the congregation.

Over the years, the church has established a Christian education program, an annual picnic, Halloween parties, Christmas pageants and "Happy Birthday, Jesus" parties. The church also sponsors overseas missionaries.

Not knowing the exact date of the first mass, St Paul's congregation chose November 1, 1992, All Saints Day, to mark their 80th anniversary.

On this festive day, Babin held a communion service, followed by various activities. A tractor and donated prayer books were blessed and the church held an ice cream social.


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