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History of St. Mark's

The early history of St. Mark’s Church mirrors the tumultuous beginnings of our own country. On July 18, 1764, a wealthy New England landowner deeded to the "professors of the Church of England" the West Road land and a simple building which stood on it. At that time the Anglican Church endured considerable harassment from The Congregational Church, Connecticut’s official state church, which the Anglicans were forced to support.

 

It was not until 1791, after the American Revolution had been fought and a National Church - The Episcopal Church - had been established, that the Episcopal Church in New Canaan was duly organized. Full religious freedom, however, did not exist in Connecticut until a new state constitution was adopted in 1818. The Episcopal congregation in New Canaan rarely obtained clergymen on a regular basis; on average, services were held one out of two Sundays. Moreover, West Road was inconveniently far from town, and the building seemed woefully inadequate.

 

In 1833-34, a church was built on God’s Acre in the center of New Canaan and named St. Mark’s. This lovely "little brown church on the hill,” later painted white, filled the needs of the parish until the mid-1950s.

 

Then the members accepted an opportunity to buy an eight-acre site a quarter-mile away, on Oenoke Ridge. Shortly after the arrival of the Reverend Grant Morrill in 1955, planning and fundraising for the present St. Mark’s Church began. Ground was broken in October 1959, and the first service in the new structure took place two years later, on Sunday, October 8, 1961. The new building’s major components, including bell tower, sanctuary, chapel, and related buildings, form an impressive 20th century amalgam of Gothic cathedral and early Basilica styles. The nave soars to a height of 48 feet, and the freestanding altar under a suspended cross is backed by a spectacular reredos of wood and metal sculptures. Designed and executed by Clark B. Fitz-Gerald, the reredos’ figures and symbols represent the drama of redemption, the spiritual journey of Christ and of every Christian. On the south wall, opposite the reredos, are stained glass windows representing the light of the Resurrection.

 

In the last forty years, St. Mark’s has continued to grow and flourish, recognizing the spiritual needs of the community and working to meet those needs through worship, programs, fellowship and service.

     

 

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