The History of Church of Our Father

"My house will be called a house of Prayer for all people.” (Isaiah 56:7)

church steepleThe land on which the Church of Our Father is located was part of the original 1688 grant by Louis XIV of France to Antoine de La Motte Cadillac. After the American Revolution, this grant was confirmed in 1786 by a Massachusetts court in Boston as the property of Cadillac's granddaughter and heir, Maria Therese de Gregoire and her husband. On this grant nearly all titles to real estate on Mount Desert Island are based.

The de Gregoire family became naturalized citizens by decree of the same court and lived their final years quietly in Hulls Cove, dying there circa 1810-1813. By the end of the nineteenth century the grant had been divided into many plots, one of which was owned by Cornelia Prime. In 1888 Miss Prime deeded one-fourth acre of her property as a gift to the Diocese of Maine and followed it the next year by a grant of way.

By this time the village of Hulls Cove had become a summer playground of the wealthy, the fulfillment of whose needs supported the natives of this small fishing and farming community.

In 1890, the year the church was built, the native population was listed as 109 inhabitants, 56 adults and 53 children. During this century Protestant services had been held in an old schoolhouse, and the first Episcopal church on Mount Desert Island had been established in 1881 as St. Saviour's in Bar Harbor. Captain Jonathan Ignatius Stevens of Hulls Cove had built in 1863 a new schoolhouse to replace the old one burned by fire, and it was his deathbed wish that Episcopal services be held there. Diocesan Bishop Neely, to whom the wish was expressed, promised to send clergy there when possible.

Captain Stevens also left a fund of $1,000, held in trust by the diocese, its income to go to any clergyman in charge of Hulls Cove services, the only condition being that at least one service a year be held.

By 1890 Canon C.S. Leffingwell, rector of St. Saviour's, had held weekly Sunday services in the Hulls Cove schoolhouse for some ten years.

In 1890, Cornelia Prime, with Mary Prime, commissioned a church to be built on the land she had already donated. The building was given as a memorial to their parents, and the first insurance on it and its contents was also paid by the Primes.

It was to be of stone in rural Gothic, and William Masters Canoe of Philadelphia was chosen as architect. The contract for its construction was let on May 14, 1890 to Asa Hodgkins of Bar Harbor. The mason was G. L. Westcott, also of Bar Harbor.

The cornerstone of the Church of Our Father was laid on August 25, 1890, by Henry A. Neely, Bishop of the Diocese of Maine. The cornerstone contents included lists of Hulls Cove inhabitants and Sunday School children; copies of lot title, survey, and deeds; copies of the current Prayer Book, Hymnal, diocesan journal, and local newspapers; and papers by the Bishop and the Primes relating to the church's history. During the same summer a church bell of bronze was cast by Meneely of Troy, New York, and a font of Caen stone was created. Other furnishings were provided, and the first service in the building was held on May 31, 1891. The church was consecrated, free of debt, on August 27, 1891, by Bishop Neely.

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church under construction
The first clergyman to serve the new mission was Canon Leffingwell, rector of St. Saviour's, who had held services in the schoolhouse and who served for 15 years in Hulls Cove. The first Bishop's Committee was established in 1891 under Bishop Neely and the second in 1900 under Bishop Robert Codman.

The first sexton was Capt. Ansel H. Leland. Capt. Stevens' trust fund had grown to $1,500 by 1898, and in that year an endowment fund was listed as $423.26 from offerings and interest thereon, plus $304.00 from donations and their interest, making a total of $727.26. The congregation through these early years included a few natives and the wealthy patrons, who arrived in their horse-drawn carriages.

During the Great Depression the congregation consisted of fewer than 30 people, over half of whom were Sunday School children, and the mission struggled.

The church was kept open by emergency funds, donations, and will endowments from the wealthy. In spite of the Depression, the first parish hall was added in 1934 for the use of church school and social functions. After World War II, the area's economy was based tourism, and newer methods of transportation brought people from a wider area.

The Church of Our Father, established as a mission by a constitution sometime between 1901 and 1910, remained a diocesan mission until May, 1988, when it became a parish.

The Rev. Robert M. Raymond, called as vicar in 1986, was its first rector and served until 1998.

The Rev. Charles R. Bradshaw became rector in 1999 and retired December 2012. Along with his wife Beth, he went off to the mission field in Uganda with Church of Our Father as the Sending Church and the Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders as the sending agency in September of 2013.

coventry crossThe Coventry Cross which hangs over the chancel was made in 1973 by William B. and William L. Kinter after a design by Clark Fitzgerald.

The population served by the present parish is vastly different from that of a century ago. New families have moved in, many of them employed by the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, and the number of retired people is increasing.

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The annual Down East Fair, started in 1959, has been a source of financial support. In 2011 it was decided that there would be a pause and there was no Fair held.

A new addition to the building, with offices, parish hall, kitchen, narthex, and storage spaces, replaced the old parish hall in 1988. In August, 1990, the parish began a yearlong centennial celebration, and on August 11, 1991, Bishop Edward Chalfant rededicated the building and its people.

The most recent addition is the stained glass window in the organ alcove, dedicated in 1993 to the churchwomen of the mission and parish. This depicts Christ with the Samaritan woman at the well, and the well motif copies the church's well, which is located just north of the church and is canopied by three stone arches surmounted by a Greek cross.

The first window placed in the building was the round one above the altar, designed by Donald MacDonald of Boston, depicting two cherubic angels, and dedicated in 1898 as a memorial to the donor's two grandchildren.

The five windows along the north and south sides of the building have similar designs in that each consists of two panels. The earliest is the southeast one of Martha and Mary, created in 1904 by Reynolds, Francis & Rohnstock, Boston. Its counterpart on the south wall shows the Virgin Mary and St. John, designed in 1925 by the same artisans.

The first window on the north wall (facing west) shows the Archangel Michael and Sir Galahad and was created in 1932, again by the same artisans. The center window honors St. Peter and St. Paul and was the product of Connick Associates, Boston, in 1958. The northwest third window shows St. Francis and St. Christopher and was made by Willet Windows in 1968.

The northwest third window shows St. Francis and St Christopher and was made by Willet Windows in 1968. The crowing glory of color in the building is the Tiffany glass window, installed in 1930 to fill most of the west wall. It depicts the text "I am the Resurrection and the Life” and is made of two large Gothic openings with a canopy top and tracery which portrays Christ and Mary in the Garden.

The figure of Christ is portrayed in the foreground and the left opening standing with one arm raised as He addresses Mary, whose figure appears in the right opening, kneeling before Him and bearing in her hands the marble urn of ointment she has brought to anoint the body of the Lord.

Impressive at any time, this window at sunset is a breathtaking reminder of the eternal Glory of God.

Mostly Compiled by Frances Gray, 1995 (updated since)

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Come join us for Worship, Song, and Fellowship!

8 am and 10 am
8 am, followed by breakfast
as announced

  • The Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane
    Bishop of Maine

Welcome Church of Our Father's New Priest, as of August 1, 2017

  • The Rev. John Allison 

along with MDI Supply Priests

(2nd Sundays with 5th Sundays being combined worship with Island Churches - Locations to be announced)

  • The Rev. Mary-Carol Griffin, Deacon
  • Mike Bullard, Senior Warden

Mailing address:
P.O. Box 186 
Hulls Cove, Maine 04644 

(GPS Locale : 91 State Highway 3, Bar Harbor, Maine)

Phone: 207-288-4849


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