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667 Mount Road, Aston, PA   19014                                 610-459-2013
667 Mount Road, Aston, PA   19014
A History of
Calvary Episcopal Church
,
Rockdale

In the Beginning ...

Early 1830's - Richard Somers Smith, a Philadelphia merchant, acquired a property known
as the "Old Sable Works" in Rockdale, Penns Grove, Delaware County, PA.  This was a
nail-splitting and rolling mill.  The site also housed the power plant of the Penn Tapestry
Company.













1833 - Mr. Smith decided to make his summer home here.  He moved his family from
Philadelphia and established residence.

Mr. Smith, his wife Elizabeth, and this daughter Clementia wanted to establish a Sunday
School in a vacant room of the factory building.  Inclement weather often prevented them
from riding the five miles to the nearest Episcopal Church in Concord.  The Sunday-School
began with an attendance of twenty children, which soon increased to one hundred.

As the Sunday-School grew, so did the desire and need for regular services.  Steps were
taken that led to the organization of the Parish.

1834 - Bishop Onderdonk licensed Kingston Goddard, a student of Theology, to hold
services in the Parish.  That November, a constitution was adopted. The Reverend Mr.
Marmaduke Hirst was detailed as missionary by the Society for the Advancement of
Christianity in Pennsylvania.  

1835 - The Bishop suggested the name Calvary Church and admitted the Parish to
representation in the Convention.

1836 - On July 24, Sarah Newlin offered the Vestry a lot for the sum of one hundred dollars
which was to be used for the erection of a church.  A building
in the Gothic Style was
designed by John Henry Hopkins, Bishop of Vermont, who was a friend of the Smiths.

On July 29 a contract was made with Mr. Jesse Palmer for the carpentry work, to include a
two-story building, 45 by 30 feet, with a tower 10 feet square.  Mr. Palmer agreed to finish two
rooms in the basement, lay the windows and doors in the second-story of the church and
tower, the floors of the same, and to put on the roof, for $250.

The cornerstone of the church was laid on August 17, 1836 by the Right Reverend H. J.
Onderdonk with appropriate ceremonies.  In the stone were placed
a Bible, prayer book a
glass jar containing the Charter of the Church, a copy of the minutes of the first meeting which
organized the congregation, two numbers of the "Episcopal Recorder", containing an account of
the last moments and the funeral of the late Bishop White, and a few silver coins of that year.  
After the service an offering was taken which amounted to $27.78.

On Christmas Eve, the first unit of the present church edifice was completed sufficiently to
house comfortably a large congregation.  The Reverend Mr. Hall, of Chester, conducted the
service.

1837 -  On April 12, the Reverend Mr. Marmaduke Hirst, who up to this time had been
serving as missionary, was appointed Rector.  His salary was $200 per year.

1838 - In June, Mr. Hirst resigned and Mr. Alfred Lee became Rector.  Mr. Lee was later
elected the first Bishop of the Diocese of Delaware.  Mr. Lee was known for his unselfish
devotion to Calvary Church.  We are told that he donated his entire salary, about $900,
towards defraying the cost of completing the upper portion of the building.

1839 - On November 24, the church was consecrated to the service of Almighty God by the
Right Reverend H. J. Onderdonk, Bishop of the Diocese.
Rectors who have served Calvary Church
and their Years of Service
The Rev. Marmaduke Hirst
1835 to 1838
The Right Rev. Alfred Lee
1838 to 1841
The Rev. Benjamin S. Huntingdon
1841 to 1847
The Rev. Charles W. Thompson
1847 to 1848
The Rev. Charles Breck
1848 to 1853
The Rev. John K. Murphy
1853 to 1868
The Rev. William Ely
1868 to 1874
The Rev. James Walker
1874 to 1893
The Rev. L. R. F. Davis
1893 to 1896
The Rev. George Miller
1896 to 1903
The Rev. C. B. Williams
1903 to 1906
The Rev. Jacob F. Weinman
1906 to 1913
The Rev. John P. Bagley
1913 to 1928
The Rev. Richard Kemp
1928 to 1941
The Rev. John C. Knewstub
1942 to 1945
The Rev. John R. Huggins
1946 to 1951
The Rev. J. Wesley Rennie
1952 to 1962
The Rev. Harry S. Longley (interim priest)
1962 to 1963
The Rev. James F. McKendrick, Jr.
1963 to 1969
The Rev. David E. Kenney  (interim priest)
4/1969 to 12/1969
The Very Rev. Arthur F. Brunner, M. Div.
1970 to 1997
The Rev. Charles Wissink (interim priest)
2/1998 to 6/1998
The Rev. Joseph T. Rivers, III (interim priest)
9/1998 to 10/1999
The Rev. Robert C. Granfeldt
11/1999 to 5/30/2008
The Rev. Kristine Franke Hill (interim priest)
9/1/2008 to 2/1/2009
The Rev. Elizabeth Eisenstadt-Evans
(interim priest)
4/1/2009  to 6/30/09
The Rev. Charles W. Messer
7/01/2009 to ----
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Website:
mail@calvaryepiscopalrockdale.org