In the early 1960s, as towns around Hartford began to expand with houses replacing field crops, new churches were forming too. A telephone survey of the South Windsor area showed enough support for an Episcopal mission church to be established, and by the end of 1964, the building comprising worship space and office/classroom space was dedicated. The Rev. James Birdsall, already serving Grace Church, was named as vicar. The next year, the rectory was built across the driveway while the parish hall was added to the church in 1967. As a mission church, we were grateful to the diocese for making this construction possible in so short a time.
“St. Peter’s” was chosen for the church because it is the name of The Church of England parish serving the area of Wapping, London, England; the section of town where we are located is also known as Wapping. In 1979, Father Michael Foisey, Rector of our English namesake, visited South Windsor and preached here.
When Father Birdsall moved from the area, Frederick Foerster served as vicar followed by Bruce Jacques, who became the first rector upon our becoming a full-fledged, self-supporting parish in 1980. This milestone was marked by a week of celebration featuring special worship services and a parish dance under the stars.
During the interim period between rectors, the people decided to proceed with plans to add an education wing to the parish hall; and that construction came to pass over the next several months.
In 1985, another larger change took place in the call of the next rector – The Rev. Sara Chandler. During this time, the Renewal Movement took place across the Church with a heightened awareness of faith building and the work of the Holy Spirit. Bible studies burgeoned, and we were encouraged to attend Christian conferences nationally and regionally to witness the Church beyond St. Peter’s. Our first Faith Alive weekend was held, the Celebrant Singers performed, and our teens became involved with the Emmaus program. Another important dynamic was realized – the ministry of the laity brought us back to our roots in the Early Church.
Children were once again part of life at the rectory with The Rev. Thomas White and family taking up residence in 1992. By extension, it seemed that family and kid activities grew with Vacation Bible School, Sunday School retreats, and involvement in Young Life. More Faith Alive weekends and Alpha presentations were held as well. Holy Week and Good Friday events brought a heightened awareness of the meaning of Easter each year. During this time, we also established a long-dreamed-of memorial garden where many loved ones’ ashes are interred. In 2014, we marked our fiftieth anniversary as a parish with a special night of memories followed by a special Sunday worship service. Father Tom served St. Peter’s faithfully for 23 years as rector and retired in early 2016.
Following Tom White’s retirement the Rev. Shaw Mudge led us through an interim period of discernment as we anticipated calling a new rector. In October, 2017, the Rev. Anne Anne Fraley was chosen to lead us into the next phase of our common life as God’s people here in South Windsor. Cultural patterns of church attendance and participation have impacted our growth, but not our vitality. We are grateful to continue our ministries and acts of service to the world in the midst of these challenges.