The Episcopal Church of the Holy Innocents
FROM THE INTERIM RECTOR’S STUDY
The Episcopal Church of the Holy Innocents had its origins in a fire and a tragic death.
Holy Innocents was the first Christian Church on Long Beach Island, and began as a summer mission at a time when there were no inhabitants on the island during the winter months save the coast guard and a few members of their families.
Before they had a church building, Episcopalians met together for worship in the parlors of the Parry House and Engleside Hotels, two of the earliest grand seashore hotels on the island during the Victorian Period. The Parry House hotel opened in 1874 and could accommodate 200 guests. It was located at the north east corner of Centre Street and Beach Avenue. The Methodist Church is now located where the Parry House once stood. The Engleside Hotel opened in 1876 and could accommodate 400 guests. It survived until the early 1940s and was originally located where Veteran’s Bicentennial Park is today.
In a pamphlet history of the early development of the Episcopal Mission entitled “A Short History of Holy Innocents’ Church” written by the Rev. Dr. James Hart Lamb, the first minister-in-charge of the summer mission, Dr. Lamb recalls being asked to read services and preach in one of the hotels on Sunday, August 14, 1881 (“to read services” probably meant officiating at Morning Prayer.) Accordingly, he booked a room in the Parry House for Thursday evening, August 11th .
Note: The Episcopal Book of Common Prayer then in use would have been the first Episcopal Prayer Book of 1789. There were various Episcopal Hymnals in use throughout the 19th Century. The 1611 King James Version of the Bible was the authorized version used in worship.
That night the Parry House hotel caught fire and by the next morning, Friday, August 12th, it had burned to the ground. This happened just seven years after the hotel had opened in 1874. Fire was a real hazard to those grand Victorian wooden hotels. Fortunately, no one was hurt, thanks in large part to the efforts of Dr. Lamb who heard a faint cry of fire and noticed smoke coming from the kitchen. He woke everyone and urged them to leave the burning hotel immediately.
A service of Thanksgiving for the lives saved was held that Friday evening in the parlor of the Engleside Hotel. At worship in the same parlor two days later on Sunday morning, August 14th, Dr. Lamb made an appeal to build a church on the island. The balance of the debt on a lot previously purchased for the church was paid off from the offering taken at this service.
The next day Mrs. Martha A. Parry offered to build a church on the lot purchased. This generous benefactress was the second wife of Mr. Charles T. Parry, the principal investor in the Parry House hotel. He was a wealthy industrialist of the Gilded Age and president of the famous Baldwin Locomotive manufacturing company in Philadelphia.
“This Church was to be given as a Thank Offering for the escape from death of the many who were in the Parry House at the time of the fire, and also given in memory of her daughter, Mrs. Clara Parry Hilger who departed this life at the young age of 19 on February 14, 1881, and of other children in Paradise.” (From “A Short History of Holy Innocents’ Church” by the Rev. Dr. Lamb.) Clara had probably died in childbirth. “the other children in Paradise” refers to “all little ones called as children to God’s presence in Paradise.” Continued on the next page 2018 Continued from the previous page The stained-glass window in the present church building was taken from the original building. It was given by Mr. and Mrs. Parry in memory of their daughter, Clara, and all Holy Innocents.
This is an excerpt from the wonderful history of Holy Innocents Episcopal Church. I have been compiling the history from several old sources. A time-line of the history of your church from its founding to the present will be displayed on newsprint in Martin Hall in September. Two or three Sunday morning Adult Forums will be dedicated to a retelling of the history and a loving review of recent clergy who have been your pastors. This is a very popular activity for churches in transition between settled priests, really interesting and a lot of fun. You will not want to miss it. More information will be forthcoming.
Fr. Dan Hinkle + Interim Rector
Many thanks to everyone for supporting the International Justice Mission on Freedom Sunday.
We raised over $1500, including a special outreach donation from the ECW, all of which will be matched by the Diocese.
Important Message from the Interim Rector Below
Perhaps you're a visitor on Long Beach Island. Maybe you haven't been in Church for a while and would like to start back. Whatever is going on in your life, you are welcome at Holy Innocents. Your past affiliations don't mean nearly as much to us as your present affiliation with us.
410 South Atlantic Ave
between Atlantic and Beach)
Beach Haven, New Jersey 08008