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The parish of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Milton celebrate their 150th anniversary. Parish member Ann Odom shows off the church that dates to 1876.
Anne Delaney/adelaney@pnj.com

One hundred fifty years ago, in 1867, there was no St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in downtown Milton. 

The quaint Gothic Revival-style architecture church came nine years later, and its original dark oak and pine pews remain to this day. 

St. Mary’s, now with nearly 200 members, got its start in a Masonic Lodge on Canal Street, where a group of future parishioners held their first service on Aug. 4, 1867, according to Ann Odom, president of the parish council and longtime church member. 

So why has the congregation — and the church that opened in 1876 — lasted to celebrate its 150th anniversary this year?

“The absolute reason I hold is that God wants us to,” said the Rev. Matthew Dollhausen, who joined St. Mary’s in early 2010. “There’s a purpose we’re here, and that’s why we continue. The members have been faithful. Worship is lively and worthwhile.” 

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The year-long celebration of St. Mary’s anniversary continues later this month with former priest, the Rev. Albert Kennington, leading services on July 30. It was under Kennington’s leadership in the early 1980s that St. Mary’s Church and its rectory were named to the National Register of Historic Places. 

On Aug. 6, the Rev. J. Russell Kendrick, the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast, will visit St. Mary’s for one service at 10 a.m. The church usually hosts two Sunday…