St. Anne’s of Washingtonville had its actual beginning in September of 1956 when a letter was sent to the Diocese of New York requesting a “neighborhood parish” be established for a weekly service and Sunday school. It wasn’t until February 24, 1957, that our first service of Evening Prayer was held at 4:00 pm at the Grange Hall on East Main Street (the Grange Hall was formerly a Methodist Episcopal church) which today houses the VFW.
In June of 1957, the Rev. William Reisman was assigned vicar to the newly formed congregation called St. Anne’s Chapel comprised of 22 adults and 16 children. Services continued in the Grange Hall and in 1959 the Diocese purchased the four–acre plot on which St. Anne’s Church now stands.
In October of 1960, the Rev. Richard Elting became Vicar as St. Anne’s became a Mission Church. On February 11, 1962, St. Anne’s first confirmation class included Rose and Russell Hallock, Brian Grant and Fred Coleman. Fr. Elting held confirmation classes and office hours in the building that is now the barber shop on South St., just below Main St.
Under Fr. Elting’s direction and guidance, it was decided to erect a “sectionalized truss structure” to which St. Anne’s pledged $9000, the Bishop of NY matched that amount, and St. Anne’s borrowed the balance of the $55,000 cost. The parish house and connecting wings were erected on February 7, 1963. On February 14, 1963, the pre-fab church building was built by eleven men in only one day. The congregation at that time consisted of 40 families. The 40′ x 72′ church would seat 125. The 40′ x 48′ parish house would seat 125 for a meal. The first service in our new church building was Ash Wednesday, February 10, 1963.
Fr. Elting served as Vicar from 1960 until his death in 1974. St. Anne’s was without a priest for 18 months until the Rev. Christopher David served as Vicar from 1975 to 1978.
In 1979 the Rev. Holley B. Slauson, III became Vicar of St. Anne’s and St. David’s in Highland Mills. The congregation began to grow and as it grew we made plans to become self-sufficient. In 1980 St. Anne’s received “parish” status at Diocesan Convention and shortly thereafter Rev. Slauson became our first and only, so far, full time Rector. The congregation and Sunday school grew steadily in the next several years. Fr. Slauson left in 1987 as St. Anne’s was beginning a new type of shared ministry which in 1989 would become the “Hudson Valley Ministry”.
During the 22 months that St. Anne’s was without a pastor, we had supply clergy provided by the Archdeacon of the Mid-Hudson Region, the Rev. Robert Willing. Although a difficult time for a rather young congregation, St. Anne’s developed a strong leadership style ably led by our Senior Warden, Edith Gardner, and vestry and administratively by our new church secretary Arleen Laurencell. Perhaps as important as “surviving” during that time, St. Anne’s also grew “in the spirit” and truly became a family. That family atmosphere and the knowledge that the Holy Spirit is among us is what defines and inspires St. Anne’s to this day.
In 1989 St. Anne’s became a member of the newly formed “Hudson Valley Ministry” and called the Rev. Linda Strohmier as program coordinator for HVM and St. Anne’s Pastor. During the next three years, St. Anne’s had steady growth in numbers and spirit with an active youth group as well as the beginning of Lay Eucharistic Ministers, a worship committee, prayer groups, Bible study, healing services an increase in acolytes, chalice bearers and lay readers. Linda Strohmier left in October 1992 to become Canon Pastor at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle, WA.
In 1993, the Rev. Suzanne Guthrie became pastor at St. Anne’s. During the next 5 years her deep spirituality and eclectic style enlightened parishioners to many different means of worship, including Taize, dance, meditation and our own “reverently bawdy” theatre troupe, “The Saint Anne’s Players”, who performed original plays written by a member/playwright. St. Anne’s also shared our space with a newly forming congregation, the New Hope Baptist Ministry.
In 1996 St. Anne’s became charter members of the newly formed Shepherd’s Kitchen food program. Today, Shepherd’s Kitchen feeds over 7,000 people a year in the city of Newburgh. St. Anne’s is on the Board of Directors and provides coordinators and volunteers for this ministry.
St. Anne’s called the Rev. Allen Newman as pastor in 1998, and started to experience a more intellectual approach to preaching and prayer while continuing to be a caring, loving community of closely knit individuals. During this period, St. Anne’s completed a long anticipated project, our memorial garden with columbarium niches. Fr. Newman left in October of 2002, at the same time that HVM area missioner, the Rev. J. David Stanway, moved back to Canada.
Early in 2003, the Rev. Mabel Burke Lewis began serving as interim Pastor of St. Anne’s and St. Thomas’ in New Windsor. Coinciding with the changes in the Hudson Valley Ministry, “Mo. Mabel” was joyously made vicar of both parishes in 2005 and served both parishes until her retirement in July 2009.
In the fall of 2009 we were honored by Orange County Safe Homes for our four years of serving as the host of the Gingerbread Project fundraiser.
In 2006, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Rock Tavern (UUCRT) building was destroyed by fire. In response, St. Anne’s shared our worship space and social hall with the UUCRT until they were able to worship in their own church again in May 2010.
St. Anne’s hosts an A.A. and an N.A. group, sponsors a local Girl Scout troop and makes our sanctuary and parish hall available to the local community. We have recently hosted the “Masque & Mime” High School Cast Party and were the home parish for the annual Thanksgiving Interfaith Service in 2009.
Most recently, St. Anne’s launched a new “Mission Initiative” in conjunction with our bishops and the Diocese of New York. The parish formed a search committee to select a new full time vicar for the first time in 23 years. In September 2010, the Wardens and Vestry of St. Anne’s, with the blessings of Bishop Mark Sisk and Bishop Catherine Roskam, called Fr. Bob Fitzpatrick to be our new pastor. Fr. Bob began his ministry with us on November 8, 2010.