We are one parish serving our community
The Parish Center
from multiple locations.
is located on Kimball Road in Northeast Harbor, Maine. It
houses the parish hall, parish office, and chapel used by the congregation
in the winter months. Adjacent to the Parish Center is the Rectory.
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, our Gothic cathedral-style stone church, listed on
the National Register of Historic Places, is located at the junction of
Kimball and South Shore Roads, Northeast Harbor. It is open during the
summer months only.
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St. Jude's Church
, our lovely cottage-style chapel, is located on
Peabody Drive, Seal Harbor, and like St. Mary's-by-the-Sea holds
services only in the summer months.
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Who We Are
We are a diverse community of people seeking to know God more fully through worship and fellowship, and to share Godís love with our neighbors. Some of us have lived here all of our lives. Some have come recently to work or retire. Some of us work in the oceans, on the properties, at the schools and libraries, at Jackson Laboratory or College of the Atlantic, or in the local shops and restaurants. Some of us are here for only part of the year (a week to 6 months) and have been coming here for years or even generations. Some of us come from as far away as England or California. All of us are grateful to be here when we can to enjoy community worship, shared mission, and the spiritual riches of Mount Desert Island.
Our size and composition varies significantly with the season, as does the overall population of Northeast Harbor, Seal Harbor, and all of Mount Desert Island. During the Summer, seasonal residents more than double Sunday attendance and bring a more formal, metropolitan character to both St. Mary's-by-the-Sea and St. Jude's Churches.
The first worship services were held at St. Mary's-by-the-Sea on July 23, 1882, and the newly built timber chapel was formally consecrated a month later on August 20th. St. Mary's received its first year-round missionary, The Reverend Charles T. Ogden, in the winter of 1883.
Construction of St. Mary's-by-the-Sea, the village of Northeast Harbor's first church, was the labor of the village's farmers, fishermen, and summer residents, who pooled skills, time, and finances to create a house of worship to replace earlier gathering places, primarily schoolhouses in the nearby villages.
St. Mary's-by-the-Sea was the inspiration of The Right Reverend William Croswell Doane, Bishop of Albany. First travelling to Northeast Harbor in 1880, Bishop Doane conducted services in the living room of Daniel Kimball's South Shore Road boarding house and later in his own new summer cottage, "Magnum Donum." Encouraged by the attendance, the Bishop proposed and received commitments for a chapel. His daughter, Margaret Harrison Doane, and Stephen Smallidge, one-time keeper of the Bear Island lighthouse, donated the land. Gifts of money, primarily from the growing summer community, and materials and craftsmanship from the local community made the Bishop's vision a reality.
St. Mary's first rectory was built in 1886 on land donated by Daniel Kimball. A parish house was completed in time for Christmas of 1896 with funds raised by the St. Mary's Benevolent and Building Society Church Fair. Parish community outreach started as early as 1887 with the formation of the St. Mary's Sewing and Knitting Society, today's Episcopal Church Women, fundraisers and distributors of clothing in the diocese.
Another milestone in 1887 was the completion of a chapel in Seal Harbor for the mission of St. Jude organized a year earlier. Under the mission of St. Mary's until 1900, St. Jude's was made independent and then was reunited with St. Mary's in 1905 when its missionary replaced St. Mary's rector.
By 1899 even the four additions made to the St. Mary's chapel in its first sixteen years were not enough to hold the growing summer congregation, nor was the timber structure comfortable in the winter's cold. Bishop Doane contributed additional land, and the present Gothic-style stone church was completed by the summer of 1902. Today's St. Mary's-by-the-Sea houses all of the memorials from the original timber chapel, including the treasured lighthouse window inscribed, "The Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, Isaiah 60:19." The window was given in memory of Mary Spring Perkins, wife of Bishop Doane's half-brother, whose bequest was the largest donation toward the original timber chapel.
St. James-in-the-Woods, a third chapel, was built on the road to Somesville (another village in the Town of Mount Desert) in 1903 for a small community of quarrymen and their families. Used intermittently, it was secularized and sold in 1987.
In the fall of 1931, the Seal Harbor schoolhouse was moved to a site on Lower Dunbar Road in Seal Harbor. Named St. Jude's Chapel Guild House, this former schoolhouse was used as a winter church and fellowship
space. After January of 1994 the Guild House was little used; it was secularized and sold in 2001.
The Parish Center in Northeast Harbor was remodeled in 1912 to create a chapel, complete with chancel, choir and vestry, that the congregations of St. Mary and St. Jude could use in the winter months.
Since the first sermons offered by Bishop Doane, the Parish of St. Mary and St. Jude has welcomed many distinguished preachers. And more than 21 missionaries and priests have served as Rector -- some briefly, others for more than a decade.
Gunnar Hansen's 1981 history of Saint Mary's-by-the-SeaClick here to view the PDF