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St. Peter's Church, Osterville

St. Peter’s Church is situated on Nantucket Sound, with several bays and inlets for boating and fishing, Osterville is one of seven villages belonging to the town of Barnstable, Massachusetts. Primarily a residential community, Osterville has a quaint village center with upscale shops and restaurants.

With sheltered harbors, picturesque beaches, as well as golf and tennis, Osterville has always been a delightful place to spend the summer. Many seasonal residents maintain a second home here while spending most of their time in Greater Boston.

The Mission of St. Peter’s Church is to bring the love of in Jesus Christ to our community and beyond, both in word and in action. In this spirit, St. Peter’s Church, with clergy and laity working closely together, seeks to fulfill its mission by being:

  • a center for worship and prayer, oriented to Christ, open to all
  • an active Church family, welcoming and caring
  • by providing active and imaginative support for parishioners with special needs
  • education and guidance for spiritual and intellectual growth
  • programs and activities designed to nurture and educate children and youth
  • outreach to persons within the community
  • participation in the life of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts and the wider church

At the end of the nineteenth century, if a resident of Osterville wished to attend an Episcopal service, one had to travel ten miles to St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Barnstable, which was founded in 1888. This was hardly a convenient trip and as Osterville grew, some of its Episcopal communicants gift together and in the spring of 1903 they formed a summer chapel.  A report by the first minister, the Rev. Joseph C. Ayer, Jr. stated, “In the late spring of 1903, an Episcopal Chapel was erected in the Wianno area of Osterville on a suitable lot which was well situated and easily accessible from all parts of the summer colony, which was given by two gentlemen interested in the place.  Funds were subscribed, and a loan contracted so that the building might be put up at once.”  All this was done with the approval of St. Mary’s Church, Barnstable.  These two gentlemen were Gordon Shillito and Thomas Gaff.  Four years later, Mr. Shillito established for the chapel a small endowment fund of $5,000 in memory of his late wife.  This summer chapel, now somewhat enlarged, still exists as a church and was on the same piece of land as the current building.  It was formally dedicated by Rt. Rev. William Lawrence, Bishop of Massachusetts, on July 3, 1904.  Adjacent property on Crystal Lake Road was acquired in 1912, with its residence used as a rectory through 1975.

Thus, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Osterville came into existence first as a summer chapel. It seems now amazing that this Chapel should have remained active and useful only in the summer months for 72 years, but such was the case.  Mainly this was a reflection of the nature of the congregation for much of this period.  Many of the communicants were summer residents who attended other urban churches most of the year, and the chapel itself had a limited program.  There were just two services on Sundays, morning communion and an eleven o’clock service with a sermon.  There was no Sunday school or social outreach program.  However, during those early years there was a very active children’s choir and in the 1960’s and 1970’s, a small adult choir.

Two members of the Episcopal clergy were dominant in those early years of St. Peter’s Chapel.  The first was Joseph Cullen Ayer, Jr., who was the minister from 1903 to 1921, and the second was Duncan H. Browne of Chicago who was in charge for the longer period 1926 to 1951.  Other clergy-in-charge for shorter intervals were Appleton Grannis, Frank W. Crowder, Elmer Nelson Bowie, and Laurens MacLure. They were followed by James A. Paul 1952-1956, James R. MacColl, III, 1957-1963, Clarke K. Oler, 1964-1969, and Robert N. Wainwright, 1969-1975.  It was in July 1969 that Sunday morning summer services also began at Crystal Lake, the result of a decision by Rev. Clarke K. Oler.  This proved to be enduring and highly popular.

The move to a full time church began in the 1960’s when in 1964, Mrs. Kathleen Jones Alexander undertook to leave her property on Wianno Avenue to the Diocese of Massachusetts for the benefit of St. Peter’s Chapel, with the understanding that she could occupy the property during her lifetime.  A gradual movement to change the status of St. Peter’s from a chapel to a church resulted in a vote by the membership in 1975 to winterize the building and operate as a twelve-month facility.  Mrs. Alexander generously agreed to the sale of her Wianno Avenue property with the proceeds to help finance the transition.  Retired Bishop Nelson Burroughs of Chatham came every Sunday the first winter of 1975-1976 to conduct services.  On November 13, 1976, St. Peter’s was admitted to a full parish category, the first instance of a parish in the Diocese being directly admitted without several years of trial mission status.

The past 27 years have seen a steady growth in the activities of the church and its effectiveness in the larger community.  There are many active committees; such as, altar guild, flower guild, hospitality, lay readers, outreach, etc. Vincent W. Warner became the first full time rector in 1976 and a Sunday school and a nursery school were started, home and hospital visits to ailing parishioners were undertaken, and an adult education program initiated.

A new enlarged church and parish house were dedicated by Bishop John Coburn on July 19, 1981.  In June 1985, Bishop Coburn dedicated St. Peter’s Memorial Garden, which is located in the central courtyard for the burial of ashes.  Ashes are interred either in the ground within the Daffodil Garden or in niches built in the Wall Garden.  The James A. Paul library was created in 1981.  A new organ was installed in 1986 and subsequently the church choir and music program were led most effectively by Karen Crosby.

In the meantime, the affairs of St. Peter’s were in the hands of a series of capable vestries and clergy.  As regards the latter, Vincent Warner, 1976-1981, was succeeded by W. Raymond Webster, 1981-1993, Robert M. Ross, 1995-1999 and now, Timothy B. Cherry who came in 2000.  Other clergy members acted in interim capacities, but special mention should be made of Eugene Goetichus had retired from the Episcopal Theological School, but then during the past ten years returned to active duty at St. Peter’s as an admired associate rector.  The administrative functions were capably handled by Barbara Abbt for the past twenty-six years.

Thus, St. Peter’s Church looks back one hundred years with a mixture of wonder, satisfaction, and anticipation for the future. One small church has won for itself a special place in the larger Cape Cod community and should only move forward successfully with a goal of service and humility.

St. Peter’s Memorial Garden

When plans were being made in 1979-80 to build an addition to St. Peter’s Church (parish hall, offices, and Sunday School rooms), there were requests that consideration be given to include a burial site for ashes as part of the landscape design of the Church grounds. The Garden was financed by many private donations and was designed by Phyllis W. Cole, Landscape Designer and parishioner. Bishop John Coburn officiated at the Dedication Service on June 30th, 1985.

The Memorial Garden was created for the burial of ashes of parishioners of St. Peter’s – either in the ground in the Daffodil Garden inside the fence along Wianno Avenue or in urns placed in the center wall. There are at this time more than fifty internments. The names of those interred are posted on the wall opposite the staircase in the “Memorial Garden Room.” Members of the congregation tend the flower beds during the summer months. Volunteers are always welcome. If you wish to join them, inquire at the church office.

Our garden is a lovely and restful addition to our parish life. For those who have ashes of relatives buried in the Garden it is also a comfort to know that their loved ones continue to be surrounded by our active parish life.

Worship times

8:00 am
Holy Eucharist Rite I: no music
Fellowship Hour after services
10:00 am
Holy Eucharist Rite II with Music and Choir
Fellowship Hour after services
11:30 am
Adult Forum
10:00 am


St. Peter's Women's Association


Commencing with an 11:30 AM Eucharist, a catered luncheon is served at 12:15 PM and a pre-announced program follows.  All women of the parish are invited to attend and are encouraged to bring guests as well. A reservation sign-up sheet is posted in the Parish hallway. Reservations can also be made by calling the Parish Office. Details of the SPWA programs will be announced in the Crosskeys and Weekly Sunday Bulletins.

Fellowship Dining Groups


From October – May St. Peter’s Fellowship Dining Group gatherings meet approximately every other month, once in each other’s home. Both couples and singles are invited to participate! The maximum number that will be assigned to each group will be 8 participants.

By the beginning of October, each participant will receive in the mail or by e-mail, a schedule indicating the participants in each group as well as the rotation of location and what each participate will provide for the four suggested dates. Each assigned host will finalize the exact gathering date with the members of their group.

The main entrée, dinner rolls, dinner wine & coffee will be provided by the host home; appetizers & before dinner wine will be provided by the second couple or two singles; salad & vegetable will be provided by the third couple or two singles; and dessert will be provided by the fourth couple or two singles.

Outreach Ministries

Donation Coordination/Distribution

St. Peter’s Outreach Ministries works within the community to help our neighbors in the areas of food, shelter, and clothing.  We maintain a small emergency pantry at a Housing Assistance Corporation facility.  It is designed to provide food to new residents at the beginning of their process of overcoming homelessness before they put together the documentation needed to receive Snap Cards or other food benefits.  We provide a monthly meal at the NOAH Shelter.  Those who have some skill in home repairs or painting have formed a team in the Adopt A Unit program at Safe Harbor, the shelter for mothers and children who have been abused.  We did over a small room and bath which housed a mother and baby.  Other parishioners provided furnishings like a bedspread, sheets, lamps, and dishes. When this mother moves out, we will refurbish it for the new resident.  We donate hats, gloves, and scarves, many of them homemade, to Independence House, a resource center for abused families, and new socks to M25, a mission to the homeless who live in the encampments around Hyannis.  We have one international ministry to Haiti.  We provide scholarships to students wishing to attend the Bishop Tharp Institute, a two-year community college which awards associate degrees in Applied Science in Business Management and Applied Science in Computer Systems.  A future local project includes collecting bottles and cans for the Champ Homes Recycling Center.  Residents of Champ Homes employed there receive job training and a small salary. We also plan to bake cookies for Camp Amazing Grace, a camp for children with one or two incarcerated parents and will raise money to provide coats for children from low-income families.

Prayer Shawl Ministry

Arts & Culture

“ST. PETER’S KNITTING GROUP is just one of many in every state who knit thousands of scarves, hats, vests , helmets and socks for THE SEAMEN’S CHURCH INSTITUTE (SCI) OF NEW YORK & PORT NEWARK, NJ. The SCI, founded in 1834, is a volunteer and ecumenical agency affiliated with the Episcopal Church that provides pastoral care, maritime education, legal & advocacy services for mariners. Both buildings have chapels, cafeterias, gift shops, and recreation rooms where mariners can rest and relax when ships come into port. This ministry has grown considerably over the years and now includes United States inbound waterways, cruise ships mariners and off shore oil rigs. In October, volunteer knitters arrive each week at Port Newark, NJ, which is the headquarters for the “CHRISTMAS AT SEA” program, to pack gift packages for deep sea distribution at holiday time. However, knitted items are still collected and given out all year, The total of knitted items yearly exceeds 20,000. ST. PETER’S KNITTING GROUP started in 2004. Since then, the group averages one to 10 knitters who meet at 1 PM in the Library for one to two hours on the third Thursday of each month (except July & August). Some knitters like to pick up yarn and knit at home. Some knit on other projects. Some decide not to knit that day but come just for the company of others. Everyone is welcome. We enjoy working together on this relaxing, rewarding outreach ministry.

Bishop Tharp Institute Support

Mission Trips and Partnerships

Since the devastating earthquake in Haiti two years ago, a major focus of this program has been on that country, and especially the Bishop Tharp Institute.

The Business and Technology Institute (BTI) of Les Cayes is a two-year institution of postsecondary education, modeled after a US community college, located on the Southwestern tip of Haiti in Les Cayes. The institute operates under the auspices of the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti, with support from Episcopal Relief and Development and parishes and individuals throughout the United States.

BTI, one of the finest educational institutions in Haiti, has a twofold-mission. One, to provide students in Southwestern Haiti with the opportunity to achieve a high quality, American-style, university-level education without being forced to leave their families and homes in this region. BTI also strives to support the economic development of Les Cayes and the surrounding areas by providing skilled employees for existing businesses and by supporting entrepreneurial graduates in starting and successfully operating small businesses.

The Prayer Group is continuing our commitment to the Bishop Tharp Institute by guaranteeing to provide a one year scholarship to a student chosen by Father Ajax. We hope to be able to do this long into the future, thus changing the life of at least one person in Haiti every year. Our hope is that this one person will be able to then improve the lives of the people close to him. And the effect will then multiply. We welcome all who wish to join us in this mission. Please contact Mary Beebe at if you wish to contribute.

For more information about the school, visit the Bishop Tharp Institute web site:

Church School

Children and Youth Ministries
Faith Formation

Our Spiritual Formation program provides a nurturing environment while offering a variety of activities and lessons to support the faith and education of our children. Our program is small enough to allow each child to receive individual attention and to engage in active participation. All parents and guardians are encouraged to visit our classrooms at any time, and volunteers are welcome! New members usually find that this is a place to make friends quickly and comfortably.

We begin each Sunday at 9:45am. Currently there are two main atria (classrooms); a 3-6 yr. old group known as “The Sheepfold” and an older group that is still in the process of emerging. The younger Sheepfold atrium uses a program known as the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. The emphasis for these children is on developing a relationship with God. The older group currently uses a mix of Godly Play and the Season’s of the Spirit curriculum.

When possible, in addition to our regularly scheduled Sunday programs, the children are invited to be involved in several annual events – including an annual Christmas Pageant and Easter presentation. The children make Valentines for shut-ins and organize a bake sale to raise money for needy children. Many children share their gifts by periodically joining the congregation as readers or singers in the choir, as well as volunteering to acolyte or crucifer.

Please do explore the following links to better understand our emerging and evolving program:

Adult Forums

Faith Formation

The Adult Forum, the Adult Education program held every Sunday September through June, holidays excepted, begins about 11:20 in the Library and concludes sometime after 12 noon, depending on the topic.

More to the point the Adult Forum is a weekly gathering of people in a space and at a time designated for open and unstructured consideration, discussion, and sharing on a variety of topics relevant to the lives of those present.  It is not a formal Adult Christian Education course or Bible Study; it is not intended to prepare candidates for the Church’s sacraments. There is no curriculum, no content intended for dissemination, and no instrument of evaluation. There are no pre-established truths or expectations of doctrinal conformity. Its leader’s purpose is to facilitate the discussion in which all present are invited to participate. It is what its name implies: An Adult Forum.

Bible Study

Faith Formation

The “ Fearless Bible Study” group, which meets at 10:30 a.m on Wednesday morning in the Library,  continues to be “fearless”, embarking on new areas to explore and share.  In the past weeks, we have studied and practiced different kinds of prayer described in the Catechism.  We are now exploring Celtic spirituality and prayer guided by the book “Praying with the Celtic Saints” by Mary Earle and Sylvia Maddox.  Author Fr. Timothy Joyce, OSB writes of the book: “Earle and Maddox introduce us to the fascinating topic of Celtic Christianity through the embodiment of the particular lives of saintly men and women.  In addition, they offer any reader practical assistance for a really down to earth way to pray.”

Each of these Celtic saints is shown to be a companion for us on our journey in faith and service, a companion who is able to nourish our hearts, minds, souls and bodies.  In each of their stories we not only see the life of Jesus continuing to be made flesh, but we are able to look for the presence and action of Jesus in our own lives.

The Celtic tradition of prayer and spirituality is at the very heart of our unique Anglican Church heritage.  It understands creation itself as a revelation of Divine presence, goodness and blessing.  Having explored St. Patrick and St. Bridgit, in the coming weeks we will open our hearts and minds to St. David of Wales,  St. Columba of Iona and others.  All are invited to come share the journey and discover new companions on the way.

Prayer Group

Faith Formation

The Prayer Group prays. We meet weekly and follow a structured program. First we listen to music to help us let go of the commotion of the day and focus on our intentions. Then we do the following: offer up our thanksgivings to God, worship using the Service of Compline, pray our petitions, and end with a closing prayer and the Mizpah Benediction. We pray not only for the people of St. Peter’s, but for those nearby or far away. We accept all requests for prayers, be they thanksgivings or petitions, and always consider them sacred and confidential. This is a very committed group and meetings are almost never cancelled. Those who wish to request prayers may put them in the prayer request book that is in the Narthex, call the office, or call Mary Beebe at 508-428-4575. We welcome anyone who like to join us in the Library on Thursdays at 4:00.

Prayers of the People Project

Faith Formation

The Prayers of the People Project, now in its fifth year, uses forms drawn from the Book of Common Prayer, other provinces of the Anglican Communion and Christian denominations, Internet resources, and our own life and ministry as a community of faith to supply a weekly context for our corporate Petitions, Intercessions, Thanksgivings and Memorials, and invites all the members of the congregation to add their own content, aloud or in silence.

In addition, “Open Form” is now our standard at every New Song Sunday 10 a.m. Holy Eucharist, normally the third Sunday of the month.  This format, which consists of the clergy leader suggesting various themes, encourages worshippers to respond with prayer foci that are of special interest or concern to them.

The text for the Prayers of the People for a given Sunday is usually prepared early in the preceding week. If there is a particular request that you would like included in this preparation process please email me or call me before Wednesday.

Intercessors continue to lead the Prayers of the People on other Sundays, and I invite you to assume this role of assisting fellow worshippers in adding their own concerns or celebrations to those of the whole gathered community. 

No special training is needed for this leadership role. A flexible schedule distributes responsibility throughout the year, and the Prayers of the People for any given Sunday are sent out to the Intercessor well in advance of that date. Due to the change in the format and content of the Sunday Bulletin, the full text of the Prayers of the People is no longer printed, other than any refrain by the members of the congregation. However, copies are available by request from those who may wish to use them for their personal prayers. 

Friendship Ministry

Aging, Health and Wellbeing

Friendship Ministry is available to anyone in the parish or to a parish-related person who could benefit from a confidential, one to one, informal friendship. The Ministers meet with the individual on some mutually agreed upon basis and keep in contact by visitation, phone call or email. This is a quiet ministry which is directed to maintaining a helpful and supportive relationship without asking for anything in return. Volunteers are available to provide meals, local transportation, household chores, and phone contact as needed. We are a group of compassionate caregivers who are anxious to serve.

421 Wianno Ave
Osterville, MA 02655-1918
United States



The Rev. Canon Beth Grundy

Organized groups

Adult faith formation
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)/Narcotics Anonymous/Twelve Step
Bible study
Lay Eucharistic Ministers (LEM)
Lay pastoral care (e.g. Stephen Ministry, Community of Hope)
Youth faith formation/Sunday school