As the Body of Christ in the world, St. Andrew's is a spiritually diverse community from a variety of Christian denominations, committed to living into our Episcopal Baptismal Promises with God's help.
To continue in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers
To persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever we fall into sin, to repent and return to the Lord
To proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ
To seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as our self
To strive for justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being
Book of Common Prayer, page 304 - 305
Shortly after 10:30 on Thursday morning, September 21, 1905, Professor Ernest Douglas of Boston took his position at the organ, as a choir of boys from the Church of the Advent, Boston, and All Saints' Church, Methuen, entered the church. Led by Bishop William Lawrence, the congregation gathered to celebrate the consecration of the new church building for All Saints', which had been organized in 1904. In this church building, forty five years later, the congregations of All Saints' and nearby St. John's, Lawrence, combined, renaming their new home St. Andrew's Church.
The erection of the church was made possible by the generous gift of Edward F. Searles of Methuen. Mr. Searles was a multimillionaire who had an ambitious and peculiar plan to establish Methuen as a cathedral city for Essex County and southern New Hampshire. Plans for the church were drawn by Henry Vaughan, who considered All Saints' one of the most important half-timbered churches that he had designed. With the opening of the new All Saints' Church, Methuen acquired a beautiful building, rich in architectural features, and most substantial in construction. Construction features are described in more detail on our Organ and Building page.
All Saints' began on a strong footing in 1904 with 164 communicants, many of whom had belonged to St. Thomas's Church of Methuen, which was forced to close its doors in 1901. The new parish continued successfully until 1917, when there was a sharp decrease due primarily to World War I. In 1919 attendance began to increase again, and remained at about 125 communicants until the early 1940's. Then, with the outbreak of World War II, parish attendance dropped steadily. The decline of the mills following World War II and their move southward prevented the church from regaining its full numbers.
At this time St. John's Episcopal Church of Lawrence also suffered a severe drop in communicants, due to the economic decline of the area. The vestries of All Saints' Church and St. John's met with the approval of the diocese to talk of a merger. Discussion led to agreement in 1950 and All Saints' Church was selected as the better structure to house the new congregation. In order for the merger to be complete both churches thought it best to choose a new name, and thus the new parish became St. Andrew's.
When the Rev. George Argyle was called as the first rector of St. Andrew's in November 1951, the parish was growing at an exceedingly fast rate because of the combined congregations. The parish hall that housed the Sunday school classes was overcrowded and every available space was being utilized. Parishioners voted at the annual meeting in 1953 to build a new parish hall. In view of the need to raise over $60,000, the vestry was authorized to organize a fundraising committee. This was the first major project to be shared by the parishioners of St. Andrew's, and they reacted with great enthusiasm. It gave them a feeling of family, all striving for the same goal. On February 28, 1954, ground was broken for the parish hall that would include a basketball court, a stage, and a fully equipped kitchen. On September 19, Bishop Norman B. Nash dedicated the new facility.
The parish continued with steady growth during the fifties and sixties under the guidance of the Rev. Argyle, listing 500 parishioners. By 1960 the need to renovate the original Sunday school rooms was met, and again in 1968, with more growth, a memorial parlor addition was completed, providing the meeting room, choir, and acolyte vesting areas that were so badly needed.
A Brief History of Our Rectors
1951-1970 Rev. George Argyle
The Rev. Argyle was the first rector of St. Andrew's Church, as described above. The Rev. Argyle, who retired in 1970, served as rector emeritus of the parish until his death in 1988. He was the only rector emeritus to actively watch the parish continue to grow.
1971 - 1976 Rev. Fred Cunningham
The Rev. Cunningham was well liked, especially by the young people. He was very talented musically; and he often played the organ well and with great passion.
1977 - 1989 Rev. John Phelps
Under the spiritual guidance of the Rev. Phelps, St. Andrew's continued steady growth to 570 baptized members. Weekly attendance improved, along with involvement by the laity in parish life. Memorial carillons were dedicated in November 1982 by the Right Reverend Morgan Porteus, Bishop of Connecticut, to enhance worship and announce the presence of St. Andrew's in the community. The parish has come to realize the rich heritage it has in this church's history and architecture. The year 1983 marked the beginning of the preservation and restoration of the entire structure, when parishioners voted to raise $150,000 for a restoration fund. During the next five years, our efforts turned to the preservation of St. Andrew's Church building on the spirit of the present for future generations. The Rev. Phelps was to be the last full-time rector of St. Andrew's.
1989 - 1992 Interim Rectors
As the parish worked through six interim rectors during a 3 year period, the congregation saw a steady decline in membership, and realized it would need to seek a part-time rector.
1992 - 1997 Rev. Paul B. Bresnahan
The Rev. Bresnahan was the first the first part-time rector of St. Andrews, working half-time. With a wife and three young sons, he followed a call to a parish in West Virginia.
1997 - 1999 Interim Rectors
The church had two interim rectors, the Rev. Thomas M. Kershaw and the Rev. David K. Johnston.
1999 - 2001 Rev. Caroline Diamond-Redmon
A Search Committee called the Rev. Diamond-Redmon from California. She was recalled to California in 2001.
2001 - 2007 Interim Rectors
The parish decided it was time for a period of self-discovery and renewed mission. Although the Rev. John Bonell was appointed as Interim Priest from May 2002 to September 2003 to work with the parish as it prepared itself to enter the search process, membership had further eroded, and it was nearly impossible for the congregation to find a rector willing and able to work for quarter time. But over time, the congregation became quite self-sufficient and no longer under the illusion of a return to days gone by. Realizing that churches throughout the country were suffering the same situation, the congregation became more involved in the community and developed a variety of ministries to meet the needs and interests of its members.
2007 - 2020 Rev. Dr. Joseph Wilkes
The Rev. Wilkes, known affectionately as "Father Joe," was an oral surgeon called to ordination later in life. He joined St. Andrew's as a transitional deacon in November 2006, and many members of the congregation attended his ordination to the priesthood by the Bishop Tom Shaw at the Cathedral of St. Paul in Boston in January of 2007. Father Joe recognized the existing organization and capacity of the congregation, and was happily a pastor to all. During his tenure, he led the small congregation through a successful Capital Campaign to restore the Organ and completely renovate the Parish Hall. He also helped the congregation to develop a Global Mission relationship with St. John's Anglican Church in Nghumbi, Tanzania. A Water Project was started together in 2016. In 2017, he supported and blessed the construction of the St. Andrew's Community Garden for the Methuen Arlington Neighborhood. And when public gatherings were prohibited during the COVID-19 pandemic that started in March 2020, Fr. Joe worked to ensure the continuation of worship and prayer with a live stream broadcast from St. Andrew's Church at the traditional 9:30am gathering time every week. He retired in June 2020.
2020 - 2022 Rev. Willam Bradbury, Bridge Priest
In March of 2020, just as the parish was adjusting to the news of Rev. Wilkes’ planned June retirement, the Covid-19 global pandemic hit, closing down church services and activities for over a year. St. Andrew’s, like most churches, took to the internet to continue providing worship opportunities for parishioners on Facebook and ZOOM. In June 2020, Rev. William Bradbury, recently retired from his position as Rector of All Saint’s Church in Chelmsford, MA, was named Bridge Priest for St. Andrew’s. Rev. Bradbury brought his experience and knowledge to St. Andrew’s throughout the difficult time of the Pandemic. Due to the Pandemic and the pursuant delays in the search for a new Priest, Rev. Bradbury’s service as Bridge Priest was prolonged beyond the normal term.
July 2022 - Present Rev. Eleanor Prior, Priest-in-Charge
In June 2022, after a search, and in conjunction with the Diocese and our Regional Canon, St. Andrew’s called The Reverend Eleanor Prior to be Priest-in-Charge. Rev. Prior has served previously at St. Luke’s in Portland, Maine (The Diocese of Maine.) She serves half-time at St. Andrew’s and half-time as the Priest-in-Charge at St. Paul’s in North Andover, MA.