All Saints Church, the Episcopal Church in Scioto County Ohio


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A Short History of All Saints Church

All Saints sanctuary circa 1875

All Saints sanctuary circa 1875

All Saints Episcopal Church was organized on June 23,1819. The original Articles of Association is preserved among the records of the church. It was signed by 23 people, among whom were Samuel Gunn, Thomas Waller, Aaron Kinney, and John Smith.

In response to a request from Mr. Kinney, the Right Reverend Philander Chase, Bishop of Ohio, sent the Reverend Intrepid Morse, of St. Paul’s, Steubenville, to hold a service in the old Market Street Courthouse which stood between Front and Second Streets. This is the first visit of Episcopal clergy to the Portsmouth area.

On June 19, 1831, the Reverend Henry Caswell was installed as the first rector. In 1833, a sanctuary was erected on the site where the Samuel Gunn Parish Hall now stands. The corner stone of that edifice was the first corner stone laid for any church in the Portsmouth area. Bishop Chase came in November of that year to dedicate the building.

The present nave was built in 1850. In 1855, All Saints became the first public building in Portsmouth to be lighted with gas lights. All Saints’ current structure has withstood the ravages of time and nature, including a fire in 1893 and the flood of 1937 when water reached the middle of the Rose Window on the west wall above the balcony. The nave was modernized in 1972 and restored in 1995. One original pew, the Low Altar and the Baptismal Font remain from the original furnishings. The original chalices used by Bishop Chase during his 1820 visit are displayed in a wall niche in the narthex, directly under the balcony.

Music and the choral tradition have always been an integral part of our worship. The original tower bell was removed for structural reasons, and is now displayed in the Bob Appel Memorial Garden on Court Street. A new digital bell system now provides hourly and liturgical music and the garden provides a quiet contemplative spot in the otherwise busy city location.

As early as 1844, there was organ and choir music at the church, and in 1898, a vested choir was introduced. The Lehmer Memorial Organ, which began its life at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Cincinnati, was installed in 1938. The John Walker Organ, our current organ, was built in 1962 by the Schlicker Organ Company of Buffalo, New York, for the Delaware Street Baptist Church of Syracuse, New York. The organ was purchased in 2005 and then was renovated and modernized in 2006 by Peebles-Herzog, Inc., of Columbus, Ohio.

Modern history includes All Saints hosting the Southern Ohio Diocesan Convention on November 10 and 11, 1989, Bishop Thompson’s first convention as bishop. All Saints also hosted the Diocesan Convention in 2006. Today, All Saints Church consists of the main church, a large parish hall, and a connecting education building with offices, a parlor, a large meeting room, nursery and classrooms. A parking lot and large lawn surround the buildings. The property occupies a quarter of a city block on the southeast corner of Fourth and Court Streets, in the historic Boneyfiddle section of the city.

The full-time rectors of All Saints during the 20th and 21st centuries

Many wonderful interim rectors served All Saints throughout the years and included the Reverends Paul Osborne, Donald Greenwood, and Donald Hays.

All Saints has engaged in a variety of ministries throughout its history. Current congregational membership reaches throughout Scioto County, Adams County and northern Kentucky. We hope and pray that one day, history will remember the work we now do as kindly as we remember the faithful ministry of those who have gone before us.