St. Paul Episcopal Church is celebrating 150 years in Orange.

The first church services were in 1863 at the Orange  residence of Mr. and Mrs Jerome Swinford where Mrs. Mary W. Trumble lived with her daughter Anna Trumble and son-in-law. These two women were directly responsible  for the start of the Episcopal mission in Orange.

To honor and celebrate founder’s lives, the church will hold a memorial service 3 p.m. Saturday at Evergreen Cemetery located at 920 Jackson Avenue.

As the community grew along with the congregation, they rotated services among member’s houses. By 1868 regular weekly services were held for the small church.

Around 1880, Mary Trumble donated land at 4th and Main streets. She obtained gifts of lumber from the local saw mills and the small church was built on the site. A pipe organ was installed in 1880 and the congregation occupied their first chapel.

The congregation continued to meet there until 1897 when it was destroyed by what is called the “great storm.”

Everything was lost, except their faith. They lost their records and other contents, but remained steadfast through it all.

They would rebuild again, but this time at 6th and Main Streets.

St. Paul’s struggled to survive during the next few decades.

During the war, Orange began to expand with the ship-building industry. As a result, the number of members grew too. The processional cross, brass altar cross and communion candle holders were purchased at this time. An English bell was placed in the belfry as a memorial to all the men who died in World War I.

Church leaders and members rejoiced when the church officially became a parish in April 1920.

The growth and prosperity of St. Paul’s continued to grow until the time of the economic depression began to hit in 1929.

In Sept. 1943, after a new reverend arrived, church members looked to the future and began to  plan for a new building. They wanted to move from the current downtown location and build a church of stone that would be “permanent and attractive.”

The property where the church currently is located at 1401 West Park Avenue was purchased.

Even though the end of the war caused half of the church members to move away, the faithful pursued their goal of a new church building. A permit was obtained from the War Production Board and ground was broken in Sept. 1945.

Even though the end of World War II resulted in half of the parish moving away, the faithful pursued their goal of a new church building. A shortage of materials and labor was not enough to keep them from completing the church in early 1947, according to information from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

Within three months after being erected, the new structure was debt free. The first Easter service in the new church had an attendance of 141 people.

St. Paul is above the church door for all to see and receive his blessings as they enter through the front door.

The building across the street was obtained in 1988 and after renovations were made, it would be the hub of St. Paul’s social events.

A group of women in 1990 formed a committee filled with love and dedication to their memorial garden on the church grounds.

The memorial garden was established as a living memorial to Julia Brown by her family and friends. The purpose of the garden is to provide a place for current and former church members to inter their remains after cremation. Each grave measures 2 foot by 2 foot. There are 200 spaces available in the garden.

Over the years the garden had become over grown and the gravesites which were formerly marked with brass pegs were hard to distinguish.

The members of the memorial garden committee transformed the garden to a serene place of beauty. Gone is the grass and brass pegs. Now, the ground is covered in bricks with a lighter colored brick with the person’s name on it at the place where they are interned. To secure the site, an iron fence has been installed.

Also added are benches so people can sit while they pray or think about their lost loved ones. Watching over the garden is a large concrete angel.

The church building also serves as a gathering place for meetings such as Narcotics Anonymous, Boy Scouts, bridge clubs and watercolor classes.

“The buildings are a concrete sign of our growth, but they do not show the true treasure of St. Paul’s, our people.  From the very inception of St. Paul’s, it has been the people who have made the difference. Our people are what make St. Paul’s the warm caring community it is.  A welcoming community of Christ that is faithful to Him and welcoming to those around us,” according to information from St. Paul’s Church.

There will be celebration for the 150th anniversary on Sunday. Morning prayer will be at 8 a.m. followed by the Holy Eucharist at 10:30 a.m. There will be a coffee hour and visitation between services. There will also be a luncheon following the services.