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A Brief History

Although All Saints Church is more than 130 years old, it has only been a year-round church for 36 years. And, 20 years ago we successfully expanded our fellowship space, office area, and Christian Education facilities.


Today's worship space reflects a year-long painstaking effort that restored the church property following its near destruction by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Aptly enough, the sanctuary was saved by the baptismal font in the narthex, which served as an anchor when the building was lifted from its foundation by flooding. 

But All Saints' parishioners have always been resilient and determined. During the summer of 1888, a group of summer residents who had been holding services in their homes (and Sunday evening hymn-sings at the Casino on the oceanfront at Bridge Street) resolved to build an Episcopal church in Bay Head. Within a year they realized their dream. On July 7, 1889, a locomotive bell in the bell tower called the faithful to worship in the nave for the first time--just as it does today.

Worship at All Saints has long been enriched by the gifts of many dedicated clergy--including some visiting clerical luminaries. Among the first was Dr. George Martin Christian, the Rector of Grace Church, Newark, who served here summers in the 1890s. He attained national fame when he defended continuing to include the Nicene Creed in worship 1889 at the General Convention. At All Saints, his fondness for "lots of candles, incense, and colored silk vestments" displeased some congregants.


Then, as now, we work to strike a balance between dignified worship and the relaxed atmosphere of a seaside retreat. Never was that more apparent than in 1977, when visiting clergy included The Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. F. Donald Coggan, the Archbishop of Canterbury. He officiated on September 4, wearing shorts and sandals beneath his robe.

"Deep in my heart this church shall ever stay,
  Set in the sand between the sea and bay,
  Its shingled walls, its ample roof declare
  The Lord of ocean, sky, and air."
                 R.B. Gibbon, Rector, 1940-1949

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