In posts over the past eighteen months, we’ve noted the progress in the construction of St. Paul’s new home on Hackett Boulevard, beginning with the groundbreaking in July 1964, following the stages of construction through 1965 and early 1966, and most recently the consecration of the high altar and the laying of the cornerstone. Today we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the building’s consecration on June 4, 1966.
The preacher that day was Darwin Kirby, Jr., rector of St. George’s Church in Schenectady. Thanks to a Times-Union article describing the consecration of “the new modernistic St. Paul’s Church at 21 Hackett Boulevard,” we know some of the words he spoke that day, words that still resound half a century later. Kirby described the church as “the Bethel of Albany, its House of God, a meeting place of heaven and earth, Jacob’s ladder pitched there in Hackett Boulevard, in the midst of a great swirl of traffic and the hurrying life of a great capital.”
The Times-Union article continued:
Father Kirby paid tribute to the “vision and vigilance” of the people of St. Paul’s, saying “You and your distinguished rector are to be congratulated on what you have achieved.”
The new edifice replaces the former church in the South Mall.
Father Kirby warned that “splendidly-cared-for church buildings by themselves are not enough; that from the day of Pentecost until the day of Constantine, the Church owned not a single building it could call its own.Yet, he went on, “the church outlived, outfought and outdied a hostile, pagan Roman Empire.”
Presiding at the ceremony was Allen W. Brown, Bishop of the Diocese of Albany, with Suffragan Bishop Charles B. Persell, Jr. The Master of Ceremonies was Thomas T. Parke, curate of St. George’s Church, Schenectady and son of Nelson F. Parke, St. Paul’s rector from 1959 until 1962. Here we see Bishop Brown and the servers as the procession formed. The processional hmyns were Austria (“Glorious things of Thee are spoken,” and Regent Square (“Christ is made the sure foundation.”)
Following the prayer of consecration, Bishop Brown made a circuit of the church, praying at the font, the crossing, the midst, the pulpit, the crossing again, and the sanctuary. In the next photographs, we see the bishop at two of these stations.
The first photo shows Bishop Brown, with Father Parke holding the service book. In the background is St. Paul’s rector, J. Raymond McWilliam; the server with his back to the camera is Peter Eells.
The second photo shows Bishop Brown and Father Parke, with the same two servers.
After the circuit of the church, the Sentence of Consecration was read by George A. Taylor, St. Paul’s rector from 1932 until 1948.
Following the celebration of the eucharist, the bishop preceded by Father McWilliam processed from the church as the congregation sang Vigiles et Sancti (“Ye watchers and ye holy ones”).
The reception after the service was the first to be held in the church hall, now known as McEwan Hall, in honor of William Starr McEwan, treasurer of the building committee. We see McEwan standing that day in the narthex with the building’s architect, Donald Stephens.
Finally, here are two photographs of clergy taken in the parking lot, probably immediately after the service.