Brief History of St. Michael & All Angels
The mission of St. Michael and All Angels was started by Father James O. Huntington of the Order of the Holy Cross with the help of the Floyd-Jones family of Massapequa. The first service was held August 18, 1889 in a “shed.” This was not under the direction of the Diocese but a “private mission originated by some church people living in Massapequa.”
Three unmarried daughters of Governor David Floyd-Jones (Mary Louisa, Henrietta Mary and Sarah) undertook the start-up work by collecting money to buy the land and teaching at Sunday School. The first gift of $919.31 for the Building Fund was received at the opening of the mission. Building of the church began on February 1891 and was completed and consecrated by Bishop Abraham Littlejohn on the Feast of Transfiguration, August 1, 1891. In 1892, the mission became self-supporting and was under the Bishop’s direct authority.
With no indebtedness on the church property, the church purchased a rectory in 1893 and the church incurred indebtedness of $2,000---an obligation not met for over 40 years. What followed was a period of struggles and difficulties. Over 20 short-term missionary clergy served one after another. In 1907, Father Fortesque Cole received an annual salary of $520 but attendance grew and improvements to the building were made. The beautiful marble altar is a memorial to Thomas Owe, father of Mrs. Floyd Jones and the matching baptismal font to her brother, Thomas Elmore.
During the Great Depression, Canon Missioner Homans tried to keep the church open but later relinquished his task to Father Rodgers, rector of Grace Church who served without salary. Money was hard in those days and on March 1, 1936 the mission was closed.
The following year, on March 26, 1937 the Mission was reopened with The Rev. Harry Thomas Morrell as priest-in-charge. Energetic and visionary, he served for 20 years and inspired the congregation to meet all indebtedness and made improvements on the property. On the Golden anniversary (50th year) of St. Michael on September 24, 1939 the mortgage paper on the rectory was ceremonially burned during the Eucharist to signify that the church was at last free of debt. The event was attended by over 150 people and prominently publicized in the local press.
Progress continued and in May 16, 1944 St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church received its parish status. Fr. Morrell was elected first rector while Henry Grail and George Weeks, Jr. were elected wardens.
In 1955, Fr. Morrell started an ambitious Church Expansion Fund to construct a larger building and succeeded to have $15,000 in pledges. He retired two years later and was succeeded by an evangelist from England, Fr. Turner. Turner carried on Morrell plans but in a different direction. Instead of a larger sanctuary, he constructed a brick parish hall and in January 1, 1969 resigned from the parish. The parish was without a full-time priest for four months. During that time, the Vestry provided continuity and stability and the faithful members gave themselves fully in a stewardship of service and support.
Today, history seems to be repeating itself. St Michael and All Angels is bereft of a full-time priest but continues to exist because its lay people keep on keeping the faith and proving the adage that “clergy may come and go but the Church remains.” The congregation which was started by three women 118 years ago is now led by an All Women Vestry. They took an oath to continue carrying the “Ark of Covenant” in the presence of their part-time Supply Priest, The Rev. Dr. Fred Vergara on March 4, 2007. With a renewed passion and vision of God’s mission, this new Vestry will lead this Church to new heights. St. Michael’s will not only endure but will prevail and thrive in the 21st century. We invite you to join us in this new journey.
(Summarized Fr. Fred Vergara from St. Michael and All Angels Centennial Magazine)
“Turning Points in Episcopal Church History”
A Lenten program for St. Michael and All Angels, Seaford