We value friendliness and hospitality… and we see ourselves as more than just a welcoming group, organization, or place. We are a sacred, diverse community of believers gathered around God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. If we are members of anything, we are members of the Body of Christ in the world…We are not a club.
God is not finished with us yet…We walk together on a life-long pilgrimage of transforming ourselves to become more and more Christ-like. We do this through thought and deed, prayer and laughter, singing and silence—and by sharing stories, bread, faith and all that God has so graciously given us…We are not perfect.
“We are not a club…” means we are trying to follow the example of Jesus who hosted an OPEN TABLE, defying the social norms and rigid caste system of his day to eat with people from all walks of life. Whatever your religious tradition, or if you have no previous experience with organized religion, you are welcome to worship at St. Mark’s. Most especially, that means our Holy Communion is open to everyone and not reserved only for the ‘right people’ who believe ‘the right things.’
“We are not alone…” means we are rooted to a specific tradition and that is The Episcopal Church. Our worship and music is rooted in The Book of Common Prayer and the Hymnal 1982 of The Episcopal Church (TEC). But we use them as a scaffold upon which to build worship that feels more contemporary and less formal than some of our past traditions.
As dusk fell on the evening of November 8th, 1879, a small group of men and women met in an "upper room" and so began St. Mark's Episcopal Church. The six men and women who signed the articles of inauguration were Robert J. Wright, M. T. Hamilton, Frederick Charfield, Theophilous Grout, Ellen A. Grant, and Victoria Grant.
In reality, the first steps toward establishing St. Mark's had begun in the summer of 1878 with the efforts of six women -- Mrs. Robert Wright, Mrs. A. J. Goodwin, Mrs. Warren Fuller, Mrs. Theophilus Grout, and Miss Victoria Grant. The initial meeting was held in the parlor of the old Memphremagog Hotel.
During these early years services were held in the homes of many of the founding families. The Rector of St. Andrew's in St. Johnsbury would come to Newport on occasion to celebrate the Holy Communion. The first rector of St. Mark's was the Reverend B. W. Atwill who served from 1881 to 1883. In the one hundred-plus year history of the church there have been thirty-one rectors with the Reverend A. B. Crichton serving the longest, from 1931 to 1940. The cornerstone of St. Mark's was laid on 5 October, 1882, and the church itself was completed in 1883.
The Northeast Kingdom was to see the start of new ministries of the Episcopal Church in the 1870's and 1880's. The first service of Christ Church, Island Pond, was in 1874, then St. Mark's. and in the early 1880's St. Augustine's in North Troy was begun. Services were also conducted in Irasburg and Richford. The lives of St. Mark's, St. Augustine, North Troy, and Christ Church, Island Pond, have had a close association. The Rector of St. Mark's was also the Rector of St. Augustine's, and from 1940 to 1960 the Rector of Christ Church as well, making for a busy Sunday. Members of St. Augustine's became an active part of St. Mark's when that parish discontinued services in the late 1960's.
In 1899 St. Mark's Rectory was built next to the church. The priests of the parish lived in this rectory on Second Street until 1963 when a new rectory was built on Sias Avenue, and used as the rectory until 1973. In 1930 a pipe organ was installed. This organ later was to be given by the parish to St. Anselm's Chapel at the University of Vermont. During the ministry of the Rev. Paul James, an organ was given to us which is currently in use. There is a fund-raising effort underway to purchase a new organ.
Over the decades, St. Mark's has made meaningful contributions to our local and world communities. In the 1960's, St. Mark's was the home of the Northeast Kingdom's first "Head Start" program. The parish also initiated youth programs at the church including reading programs in the local schools and in ecumenical programs and worship. Outreach programs have included the Soup Kitchen during the 1970's, Stephen Ministries (1980-1985), Nursing Home Ministries, 1988 to the present time, supporting the Heifer International Projects and the Sudanese Relocation and Education Programs. One day each month a Souper Lunch is prepared for the community, and the food shelf is open for distribution.
St. Mark's celebrated the 125th Anniversary of it's founding on Sunday, November 7, 2004. At the service, a new hymn, titled "O Tree of Life" was sung for the first time. The Words were written by member Susan Davis and the music written by Jim McKimm, organist-director. In honor of the occasion, the tune was named St. Mark's.'
The past year has joyfully brought the "re-birth" of the Nursery and Sunday School. Thanks to the faithful efforts of a number of young families with young children, their happy sounds are now a part of our Sunday worship.
For over 100 years St Mark's has been a Christian presence in the community of Newport. Often our weakness has been our strength, our simplicity, our glory, and those who have worked and worshiped here have loved and cared. Those who have served and worshiped here have done so with the knowledge that God the Father, God the Son,and God the Holy Spirit is here with us.
From the Centennial Convention of the Diocese of Vermont - 1890
"...and was completed and consecrated August 9th, 1883, clear from debt, having cost $3,000, and free to all. At his beautiful service, a large number of Clergy from Vermont, New Hampshire and Canada were present, the Right Rev. Bishop Bissell presiding, the sermon being preached by the Right Rev. Bishop Niles, of New Hampshire.
January 20, 1883, the Parish was reorganized into a regular corporation, and then transferred all its property on the 13th of March, 1886, to the Trustees of the Diocese of Vermont, to be by them held in trust forever. Robert J. Wright, Fred Chatfield, Thomas Farrant, M.F. Hamilton, Virgil Bogue and Theophilous Grout were the most active in establishing the church, while the last named has acted as Lay Reader since 1880. To him the Church is greatly indebted for his faithful and devoted services in various ways.
It is but just to say, that perhaps there is no Parish in the Diocese where the ladies have been such an important factor in establishing the Church as in this; one of whom, the late Mrs. S.W. Fuller, has left a permanent legacy to St. Mark's Church of $5,000. Great credit is due to this little band of Churchmen and women for the noble work they have accomplished."
From the Rector's Report 1890
Families - 48
Individuals - 132
Baptisms - Adults,4; Infants, 2
Confirmed - Men, 0; Women,5
Last reported, 47; Added and Receievd, 16; Died and Removed, 3
Sunday School - Teachers, 5; Pupils, 40.
Ellen Black Grout
Newport Express & Standard - Nov. 7, 1924 - Page one.
MRS. GROUT died at 560 West 180th St., New York City, Saturday morning, Oct. 26, 1924, from heart failure, after a lingering illness of over three years which confined her to the house. The body was taken to Newport, her old home, and buried from ST. MARK'S Church, Tuesday afternoon, the REV. R.H. TRILL, rector of the church, conducting the service, and making interesting and appropriate remarks on the life and character of the deceased. The interment was in the GROUT family lot, Newport East main Street cemetery, REV. MR. TRILL reading the committal service. MAYOR LINDSAY, City Clerk SPEAR, FRANK R. SHERMAN, E. J. PROUTY, CHARLIE BROWN, HENRY BLANCHARD, old time friends and neighbors, acted as bearers. The choir sang "Lead Kindly Light: and other favorite hymns of the deceased.
On the 25th day of November, 1873, MISS BLACK was married to THEOPHILUS GROUT, then a lawyer at Newport, where they made their permanent home until 1901, when they sold their home on School Street with spacious grounds to the Newport School District, on which lot the present Newport high school building now stands.
During the thirty or more years that MR. and MRS. GROUT lived in Newport, she was an untiring active zealous worker in organizing and building Saint Mark's Episcopal church at Newport.
MRS. GROUT with the other brave and courageous women of the Episcopal faith took the ground that an Episcopal church could be built and paid for and maintained in Newport, and if the fainthearted husbands could not see their way clear to build it, the women would undertake the task.
This was too much for the men, and by the unanimous request of all interested THEOPHILUS GROUT drew up the following articles of association, which was the real beginning of the beautiful little SAINT MARK's church and rectory house on Second St.
"Articles of Association of the Mission of SAINT MARK's Church, Newport, Vermont. "We the undersigned citizens of the town of Newport, county of Orleans, state of Vermont, do hereby associate ourselves together as a religious society, under the laws of the state of Vermont, to be known and called as the mission of SAINT MARK's church, Newport.
"We associate for the purpose of maintaining the worship of Almighty God, according to the provisions of the Protestant Episcopal church in the United States, in its liturgy, canons and usages, and for doing whatever else may be necessary in promoting the main purpose: "We do hereby adopt, receive and promise entire conformity to the constitution and Canons of the Diocese of Vermont. "Signed at Newport, Vermont, November 8th, A. D. 1879.
NAMES "THEOPHILUS GROUT, ELLEN A. GROUT, VICTORIA GROUT, ROBERT J. WRIGHT, M. T. HAMILTON, FREDERICK CHATFIELD, MRS. L. B. CLEVELAND, MRS. M. T. HAMILTON, MRS. W. FULLER, MRS. R. J. WRIGHT, MRS. F. P. DAVIS, MRS. F. CHATFIELD. "Town clerk's office, Newport, Dec. 11th, A.D. 1879. Received for record at ten o'clock a. m., and recorded in Vol. one, page 20, of Newport records in town.
Attest: H. S. ROOT, Town Clerk."
Immediately after the signing and recording of the foregoing articles of association, the Episcopal ladies formed a guild known as "The Ladies Guild of SAINT MARK's Church, Newport," and the good work commenced. The first year the Ladies' Guild cleared about $800 and within three years had realized around $2000, and a lot was purchased and paid for. On the 5th day of October, 1882, the cornerstone of SAINT MARK's church was laid, with imposing ceremonies by the Right REV. W. H. A. BISSELL, then bishop of Vermont, assisted by BISHOP NILES of New Hampshire, and a large number of visiting clergy and laity from Vermont, Canada and New Hampshire. It was a beautiful and imposing service.
Soon after SAINT MARK's church was consecrated it was deeded to the trustees of the Diocese of Vermont, a corporation chartered by the legislation of Vermont, to be by them held in trust forever, to be used only for church purposes, and never to be diverted to any other use or purpose.
A few years after SAINT MARK's church was thus consecrated and deeded to the trustees of the Vermont Diocese, it received from MRS. FULLER of Chicago, Illinois, aunt of MRS. M. T. HAMILTON of Newport, a legacy of $5000, which was put into the hands of the trustees of the Diocese of Vermont to be held by them in trust forever, the income thereof only to be used for the support of SAINT MARK's church.
At the time this legacy of $5000 was paid over to the trustees as before mentioned, about $1300 interest had accrued, and this was used to help build the present rectory house, no one played a more important part than ELLEN A. GROUT, the subject of this sketch. She loved the little church she had helped to build, thought it beautiful and homelike, and desired to be buried from it, and her requests have been carried out.
Clergy who have served St. Mark's since it's inception:
B. W. Atwill 1881 - 1883
J. Dinzey 1884 - 1885
J. Hooper 1885 - 1887
G.G. Jones 1889 - 1891
W.B. Clift 1891 - 1893
A.A. Cairns 1894 - 1896