~ ABOUT US ~

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church celebrates the wonder of God’s love in a community that embraces all who enter our doors.  We take seriously our worship of God, our commitment to one another in this community of faith and our service of the homeless, the hungry and those seeking an education.

 

HISTORY OF ST. PETER'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH

The Founding of the Parish: 1896

St. Peter’s Church has worshipped in Clifton since 1896.  A small group of women started a Sunday School on the second floor of a store on Getty Avenue.  From that humble beginning, the church purchased property on Clifton Avenue.

1896:  Mrs. McDaniels starts St. Paul’s Sunday School at McDaniels Hall on Florence Avenue, now Getty Avenue, opposite the strip mall on the corner of Clifton Avenue and Getty Avenue. 

August 15, 1896:  S. Russell Trevett organized St. Paul’s Sunday School earlier started by Mrs. McDaniels. 

Oct 16, 1896:  Bishop Thomas A. Starkey appoints the Rev. William P. Evans, Rector of St. Mark’s Paterson, as Priest-in-Charge of the new mission.
Nov. 18, 1896:  First Evening Prayer and Sermon conducted by Mr. Evans, a church founder. The Mission’s name is changed to St. Peter at the request of Bishop Starkey.
Nov. 21, 1896:  Bishop Starkey recognizes St. Peter’s as an organized mission.

 

The First Decade: 1896 – 1906

January 6, 1897: The first meeting of the Dorcas Guild is held at the home of Mrs. George Anderson.  Eight ladies are in attendance.  By April 14, 1898, membership had reached 18.

January 14, 1897: Mrs. Andersons and eight ladies formed the Dorcas Guild, a fundraising organization for the parish.  They included Mesdames R. Trevett, W. B. Hait, C. Williamson, Cook, Derbyshire, Withers, Kock, Woodruff, E. A. Smoth and Misses Green and Bessie Hait.  The paid $72.66 for the lots on which the present church stands.  They formed the Altar Guild and Choir Guild and opened their homes for Students from General Theological Seminary who led Sunday Services.

December 22, 1897: First Confirmation Class presented by Fr. Evans and Mrs. Anderson.  Included in the class were Everett T. and May F. Wells and Mrs. S. R. Trevert who later bequeathed her entire estate to St. Peter’s Church. 

September 17, 1899: First service held in the new church.  Donations to the church included the altar and chandeliers from Trinity, Paterson; the font from St. John’s, Passaic; and the bishop’s chair from either St. Paul’s or Trinity.

1900: The first funeral in the “new” church was for John S. Pollard, father of Mrs. S.R. Trevett.  The year 1900 is practically unrecorded save for this event.

November 20, 1901: The 5th anniversary service is held.  St. Luke’s choir in Paterson joined St. Peter’s for a total of 40 voices.

 

The Second Decade: 1907 - 1917
March 1910: The Rev. Henry Baldwin Todd comes to St. Peter’s as a lay reader.  He is ordained as a deacon and becomes St. Peter’s last “minister-in-charge.”

1911: St. Peter’s celebrates its 15th anniversary and writes the first history of the church.

August 1913: The canons of the diocese change granting women the right to vote in parish meetings – 7 years before the nation passed the 19th amendment.

1914: St. Peter’s acquires its first rector, John Goodridge Martin.

April 1917: The Rev. John G. Martin takes a leave to serve as a YMCA worker in World War I.  In all, 35 men and 1 woman from St. Peter’s enlisted in 1917 to fight “the war to end all wars.”  In 1919, enlister Lloyd Bogart, made a dramatic entrance when he walked into the office of his father, who had accepted the government’s report that he had made the supreme sacrifice.

April 26, 1917: Clifton incorporated as a city.  St. Peter’s parishioner, Clarence W. Finkle, Sr. Chairman of the township committee, serves as a temporary mayor until January 1, 1918.


As the community began to grow, the people built a Parish Hall in 1921 to serve the needs of the church and the community.  The parish hall included a large hall which served as a basketball court, a movie theatre, a dance floor and a banquet hall.  Over the years, members of the parish hosted events that drew not only the members of the church but the broader community.  Many residents from the greater Clifton area recall attending dances and dinners in the Parish Hall. 


As the church grew in the 1950’s and 1960’s the parish decided to build a new church.  The original church was knocked down and a new church built within a year.  During that transitional year, the members of the parish worshipped in the parish hall.  In 1966, the St. Peter’s Church moved into its new home.  The distinctive A frame church on Clifton Avenue combines the Altar, Pulpit and pews of the original St. Peter’s church as well as stained glass for the new church.  The congregation has upgraded the church’s original pipe organ. 

 

To respond to the needs of homeless families in the community, St. Peter’s Church began St. Peter’s Haven, a shelter for Homeless families.  While other homeless shelters serve the needs of either men or women, St. Peter’s Haven offer homeless families the opportunity to stay together as a family unit while getting on their feet to find housing, employment and opportunities for parents and children.  The shelter program expanded from one family to three families.  From a program to provide food for the homeless families under our roof, the Community Food Pantry currently serves over 1,000 persons a month.  Volunteer opportunities are available to members of the community who want to serve.