Facts about St. John’s Church’s new construction in Portsmouth NH

Facts about St. John’s Church’s new construction in Portsmouth NH

PORTSMOUTH — With construction set to begin, accessibility and connectivity are the pillars of St. John’s Episcopal Church’s vision for the future of the church and its adjacent parish hall.

A groundbreaking ceremony Thursday outside the steps of Thaxter Hall, St. John’s parish hall, commemorated the beginning of construction at the church originally constructed in 1732.

The Rev. Rob Stevens, rector of St. John’s, led prayers before dozens of parishioners who gathered to mark the occasion. He briefly explained the highlight of the project: the construction of a connecting hall between the church and Thaxter Hall. 

Junior warden Jerry Simpkins, left, volunteer Reginald Baird, Common Table team leader Judy Roberts, the Rev. Rob Stevens, building committee leader Barry Heckler and senior warden Chuck Silva break ground on a construction project at St. John’s Church Thursday, July 22, 2021, in Portsmouth.

“And so I think it is incredibly important that these buildings are being connected, especially in a time where our culture has a hard time connecting because we’re kind of stuck,” he said.

The mission of St. John’s, he added, is to accept all who come forward. Prior to the pandemic, he said worship services on Sundays would attract 350 churchgoers and that other events and programming, including the weekly lunch provided by Common Table, continue to serve approximately 1,000 people every week. 

Other outreach programs that call St. John’s home include AA groups, Al-Anon, Easter Seals, choir groups, book groups and the Resale Shop, according to St. John’s vestry and building committee member Barry Heckler.

Stevens said that, in the winter, Chapel Street becomes hazardous due to the weather and that individuals descending onto the church are sometimes at risk of injury.

The Rev. Rob Stevens speaks about the St. John’s Church project Thursday, July 22, 2021, in Portsmouth.

“All people are welcome here, and yet our building didn’t reflect that because in the wintertime, this is treacherous,” he said. “It is so nice that we’re going to have a building that actually reflects our mission.”

What will the project entail? 

Named after longtime parishioners Judy Roberts and her late husband, Lew, Common Table volunteers since its founding in 2001, Roberts Hall will be the name of the connecting structure between St. John’s and Thaxter Hall.

Related Posts