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History of Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church, Westhampton Beach, New York
Before 1890, the pastoral waterfront of Westhampton Beach was known as Ketchaponack. There was no electricity, no telephone and there were no autos. The expansion of the public transportation enabled people to travel to the eastern end of Long Island for summer.
At this time, The Reverend Morgan Dix, Rector of Trinity Parish, New York City began holding services while visiting during the summer. The small summer congregation worshiped in the current Methodist church on Mill Road.
A small congregation of about fourteen families wanted to continue to worship year round. The first service of Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church was held on October 26, 1924 in Union Chapel, a village owned property. After one more year of services in the Methodist Church, the Ladies Auxiliary made an appeal to Bishop Stires of Long Island for permanent clergy. The bishop sent only supply clergy but the women persisted until The Reverend William Cumpston was appointed Priest in Charge of the mission congregation in 1928.
The Reverend Arnold Lewis was appointed Priest in Charge in 1936. While continuing to worship in Union Chapel, the congregation purchased land on North Beach Lane (now Beach Road) with the hopes of first building a rectory on one half of the property and then a church building on the other half.
The Reverend Dr. Robert Woodruff was called in 1941. When the congregation outgrew the Union Chapel , the Atwater family offered Saint Mark’s the land on the corner of Main Street and Potunk Lane. Ground was broken in June 1948 and the cornerstone laid on October 10, 1948, by Bishop DeWolf. The first worship service in the new building was conducted on June 12, 1949. Full status as a parish was granted by the diocesan convention in 1949 and Colonel Joseph Geer and Joseph Quickenenden served as the parish’s first elected wardens.
The Reverend Charles Hubon was called as the second rector in 1952. The 1950’s saw dramatic growth in the parish’s involvement in the community and in youth ministry in particular. During this time, the undercroft was finished for program and fellowship space.
In 1966, The Reverend George W. Busler was called as the third rector and under his leadership youth ministry flourished, the Beinicke Building was constructed to house a family counseling program, stained glass windows were installed in the nave, and the columbarium was built.
In 2001, The Reverend Christopher David was called as the fourth rector. In order to meet the needs of a growing community and parish, the congregation embarked on a major building campaign to construct a parish hall for church and community use, to expand the educational facilities, and to enhance parish office space.
As the community continued to grow, young parents expressed a compelling need for a nursery school in town. In 2004, Bright Beginnings was created as a New York certified parish day school with a full time director.
In 2012, The Reverend Mark Powell was called as the fifth rector. Saint Mark’s has a long history of commitment to young people through Christian formation and pre-school education. Father Powell continued that commitment, revitalized stewardship, and sought to explore avenues for mission and outreach.
St Mark’s first Ladies Auxiliary, a precursor of Episcopal Church Women approximately 1930 – Taken at the south door of St Marks Church (Union Chapel) that sat at the corner of Library Ave now occupied by the Westhampton Beach Library (formerly Nevins Room)
1st Row left to right – Mrs George Winters with daughter, Mary Louise, unknown, Mrs Cumpston, wife of priest in charge, Mrs Desch (later killed in ’38 hurricane), Mrs Hansen.
2nd Row – Mrs Sliako, Mrs Edward Rogers(“Bea” – one of the founding members), Edith Quickenden (Mrs Joseph -Joan Derryberry’s mother)
3rd Row – Unknown, Mrs Duyckinck, Mrs, Klose
4th Row – Unknown, Mrs Illbert Zaics (partially hidden), Mrs Harold Cutver (Ethel – Ginny Gilmore’s mother), Mrs Fox, Mrs Francis Tuthill, Mrs Aubrey Jessup (Lola)