Holy Apostles, St. Clair PA Celebrating Over 160 Years!
The first services were held at the Lawton Mansion on Nichols Street, Super's Hall on North Second Street and the Front Street School Building in St. Clair, PA starting in 1847. On July 7, 1854 the Rector, Wardens and Vestrymen purchased lots 198 and 199, situated on the corner of Nichols and Hancock Streets from Adam Hart, his wife Rebecca C., Elizabeth C. Baird from Philadelphia and Henry C. Carey from Burlington, New Jersey for the sum of $300.00. The first vestry was organized October 8, 1847 in the home of Chars Lawton. The first choir was organized in 1857 and the first vested choir was organized shortly thereafter.
The cornerstone was laid on October 8, 1854. In 1858 a choir gallery was constructed. The first choir stalls were placed in the church in 1903. Holy Apostles is the second oldest organized church in Saint Clair, however; the building is the oldest church structure in the town. A pipe organ was installed about 1906. The present Austen pipe organ was dedicated in 1927.
Other improvements to the structure were made in 1860 when a schoolroom was added. The rectory was constructed in the late 1860's being enlarged in 1927. By 1930 a large renovation project took place. The interior of the church had been redecorated, the Parish House had been improved, with an enlarged and modernized stage, and the whole interior redecorated and repainted. The church property, including the rectory had been painted and the heating plant thoroughly renovated.
Over the years many organizations were formed within the church, such as the Parish Aide, Altar Guild, Episcopal Church Women, and The Girls Club to name a few. In 1978, the bellows on the pipe organ required major repairs. It was at this time that a group of interested parishioners formed the Good Shepherd Guild. Many improvements to the church have been made in recent years. The interior of the Church and the Parish Hall has been painted. The wrought iron fence that surrounds the church and was made by the town blacksmith was repaired and painted. The interior exposed beams have been reinforced. All of the roofs have been replaced and the belfry was repaired. The wooden clapboard was covered with vinyl siding. The parishioners take great pride in the surroundings of the church and in recent years beautiful landscaping has been done. The Good Shepherd Guild continues today and along with raising funds to make necessary repairs, many social activities are held.
It is not known when the Sunday School was started, an article taken from the Pottsville Republican in October of 1978, found at the Schuylkill County Historical Society mentions the following article: "A program from July 4, 1862 has survived. Of the holiday's festivities, a letter from Mrs. Ellen (Price) Johnson give the following account. We marched from the church over to Main Street (Second Street) and sang at the corners as far down as Neiman's (Second and Lawton) with a queen leading. She had an arch over her decorated with red, white and blue papers. Two girls (were) carrying the streamers at her back. All the girls of the Sunday school wore red, white and blue aprons. We returned and marched through the gates of the "big gardens," as the Lawton place was called. Benches were placed for us, and the ladies served us with sandwiches and lemonade until they made ready for the remainder of the good things. Mr. March read to us the Declaration of Independence. We had all kinds of cakes, peanuts and candies."
During the 1950's the Sunday school had a large membership with six classes according to age and included an adult class. In the 1980's the Sunday school was very active and had about thirty students. The Sunday school sponsored many outreach projects throughout the year. Some of the projects included: collecting new and used clothing for a local shelter, collecting money and can goods for a local soup kitchen, sending cards to local Veteran's Hospitals and collecting pet food, supplies and money for the Hillside S.P.C.A. as a "Make a Difference Day" project held each year in the county.
Today there is an active Sunday school. Students range from 2 years to 14 years old. The children of the Parish designed and painted a beautiful mural on the back wall of the stage area in the Parish House. The mural depicts many bible stories. In the center of the mural are portraits of the children themselves. In April, 2004 the students joined with Saint Mary's Roman Catholic Youth Group and presented a musical comedy, entitled "Rescue in the Night" a story about Daniel in the Lions Den. The Sunday school has entered floats in the town Halloween Parade and has continued with outreach projects such as sending cards to shut-ins of North Parish. Holy Apostles is a small parish. We continue to get new members and welcome everyone to come and worship our Lord with us.