The Church of All Saints by-the-Sea
The origins of the Church of All Saints by-the-Sea go back well over a century. The Reverend John Thomas Magrath, an 1862 Bowdoin graduate, served as the Rector of Christ Church in Gardiner, Maine from 1866-1869. He then ministered to congregations in Michigan, Philadelphia, and Boston.
While in Gardiner, he and members of his congregation would come to Pig Island (now Capitol Island) for picnics. Mr. Magrath noticed a green hayfield on the east shore of Southport, which his family acquired as a small salt water farm. A summer cottage was built on the property in the early 1870s. Since there was no Episcopal Church accessible to the vacationers, the congregation of All Saints by-the-Sea came into being under the leadership of Mr. Magrath. Services were held under the oak trees surrounding the hayfield or in the cottage living room in cold or rainy weather.
In the 1870s, Miss Mary Williamson, one of the Gardiner congregation who had come on many picnics, purchased land to the south of the farm. She donated part of this land for the building of the church.
In 1905 the present church building was erected. The architect, Mr. Albert Hall, donated his services, and the construction of the chapel was done by Captain Charles Gray, a neighbor and a ship builder. The church was consecrated in July 1906 by the Right Reverend Robert Codman, Bishop of Maine.
Mr. Magrath continued to be in charge of the church until his death in 1908. Subsequently, clergy from all over the country have been invited to officiate, and All Saints by-the-Sea has been fortunate to attract many people of high caliber to its pulpit.
All Saints by-the-Sea was the only Episcopal Church on the Boothbay Peninsula until St. Columba's was established. From the beginning the two congregations have found ways to work together and to share resources. Many long time summer attendees at All Saints are now year-round residents, and a number of them are members of St. Columba's during the months when All Saints is closed. In June 2005, St Columba's dedicated a new church building in Boothbay Harbor, and All Saints by-the-Sea on Southport began a two-year celebration of a century of service to the area.
While not a parish church in the ordinary sense, neither is All Saints by-the-Sea a diocesan mission. It remains essentially a congregation of residents and summer visitors who share its services and give it their support. The church is managed by a Governing Committe elected for three-year terms. Much of its maintenance and improvements are done by this group of volunteers joined by other friends and loyal supporters. Its island location and approach by water have endeared the church to many and have made the church an important part of the region's summer life. It is one of the very few summer chapels in the country that has its own dock and float. The "Novelty", a tour boat out of Boothbay Harbor, makes a special trip on Sundays to bring visitors to the church, and private boats are welcome to dock for church services. Over the years All Saints by-the-Sea has become a spiritual summer home for hundreds of worshippers of all denominations in the Boothbay area.