St. Philip's Church History

The construction of this church, originally termed St. Philip's Chapel, began in 1848 by the authority of the vestry of Christ Church, Broad Creek, the mother church of western Sussex County . St. Philip's was consecrated by the RT. Rev. Alfred Lee after its completion in 1850. Bishop Lee served the Diocese of Delaware from 1841 to 1887 and was elected Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States. The original building was moved to Spruce Street, and the present building was completed in 1870 which originally faced Sixth Street, and was moved to face Central Avenue. Brick veneer was added to the building in 1924.

The adjoining Parish House was constructed in 1937 through a memorial to the church.

In 1958 an Educational Building was attached to the Parish House through the donations of our parish

Old Christ Chirch Cross Original steeple cross retired 1973

Building and Property

St. Philip's Church is located at 600 South Central Avenue, Filling in one block between Sixth Street and Carvel Avenue, in Laurel, Delaware. The interconnected buildings consist of the main Sancturary, a parish house and an educational building. The main church features many beautiful stained-glass windows, natural support beams and a wood panel ceiling. A choir room, Sacristy, a small meeting room and the columbarium are adjacent to the main church and serve as a connector to the parish house. The adjoining parish house consists of a large open room with a small stage. Also located in this building are the church offices and a small kitchen. This building also has natural support beams and an open ceiling. At the north end of the large room hangs the original wooden cross that was taken off the steeple when it was replaced by a stainless steel one in 1973. The parish house serves as a connection between the church and the educational building. The educational building features an open room known as memorial hall as well as a large kitchen and restroom facilities, which were remodeled in 2019. Memorial Hall features a natural wood ceiling with arched laminated beams. In the lower level are the Church School rooms and a children's chapel and a Vestry/Conference room. All of the buildings have been updated and well maintained. In 2008 a Geothermal system was installed to provide heat and air conditioning to the entire facilities.

Also on the property is a park that was built with memorial funds in memory of a parishioner. This park is situated on the property that once housed the rectory of the church. This house was sold several years ago and moved off the property. Behind the park and the educational building is the church parking lot

Neighborhood

St. Philip's is located in Laurel, Delaware, a small town in western Sussex County . It is a community of about 4300 residence. Laurel is located just west of U.S. Route 13, the major north/south corridor through the state of Delaware. Laurel has a large historic district with many structures on the National Historic Register.

Laurel is primarily an agricultural community with some small shops in town and a small shopping center on the highway. There are several antique shops in and around the town. There is a large flea market with a variety of shops and fast food restaurants located along the highway.

The Laurel School District includes new state of the art schools and draws students from a wide area around Laurel with an enrollment of 2,645 students. More than 95% take SAT's in their 11th year. It is also recognized for it’s athletic programs, many of which function in competition with neighboring school districts.

The town also offers a public library. This facility houses several thousand books and offers programs for children throughout the year. They have computers available for use by the public.

Laurel is widely recognized for it's 4th of July festival, parade and fireworks and the St. Philip's Strawberry Festival Which is held annually in May.

The Project Proposed as "The Ramble" in the works. The Ramble focuses on the waterfront. Development of a river walking path from one end of town to the other, nature-based playground, camp style homes, kayaking, nature-based tourism.

Sussex County

While Sussex County is well-known my summer by summer vacationers for it’s beautiful Atlantic Ocean beaches, it offers residents that and countless other attractions year-round. The beauty of the area is reflected in the sparkling waters of the Atlantic, Chesapeake Bay and the Delaware Bay, Practically, these waters also moderate our summer and winter cold extremes.

Well positioned on the east coast Delmarva peninsula Sussex County is the largest of three counties in Delaware. Major centers such as Washington, D.C., New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore are close enough for day trips.

Higher education opportunities include 3 universities and 1 college. Medical care is supported by local hospitals and large medical centers. Several state parks and ponds afford recreational activities. Sport fishing and surf casting are popular pastimes.

Excellent restaurants have been established locally to serve the vacationing public but are available to all and more accessible in the off season. Several craft breweries and vineyard wineries have been established in the area.

Delaware and Region

Delaware is located on the east coast of the United States. Delaware is bordered by the states of Maryland, Ney Jersey and Pennsylvania. Delaware consists of nineteen hundred and eighty-two square miles and is the second smallest state in the nation.

The small state is broken down into three counties, New castle, Kent and Sussex. Laurel is located in Sussex County , which is the most southern of the counties as well as the largest of the counties. Sussex County is known for its beach communities along the Atlantic Ocean. Rehoboth Beach is the largest of these with a large boardwalk and many shops and outlet stores with all of delaware being the home of tax-free shopping. There are also several golf courses, boating facilities and state parks located in the county. Just north of Sussex County is Kent County. This county takes up the middle of the state and offers shopping, a state park, two casinos and a NASCAR speedway, Dover International Speedway. The Final county is New Castle County which is at the northernmost part of the state. This county is home to Delaware’s Largest city, Wilmington. There are also many other opportunities in this area such as the arts, entertainment and one of the playhouses, and minor league baseball.

Also, in the region, within a three-hour drive, are the cities of Philadelphia, Pa, Baltimore, DC and Virginia Beach VA.

If there is one experience that Laurel can promote above all others, it is the opportunity to explore by kayak, canoe and stand-up paddleboard (SUP). There is one opportunity coming up in April with a Spring Birding Weekend that includes canoe and kayak trips at Trap and Trussum Ponds.

The Episcopal Church in Delaware

St. Philip’s Church, Laurel is one of thirty-eight parishes that provide worship services for about twelve thousand Episcopalians in the state of Delaware.

Out present Bishop is the Rt. Rev. Kevin S. Brown who assumed his duties as the eleventh Bishop of the diocese in Delaware on Dec 9, 2017. The diocesan office is located at 913 Wilson Road, Wilmington, Delaware.

Delaware is a small state described as about one hundred miles long and thirty-five miles wide at it’s widest point. This allows Delaware Episcopalians frequent opportunities to meet, worship and work together. Many retired Clergy choose this area for retirement.

The Diocese has two special facilities, Camp Arrowhead and A. Felix Dupont Memorial House are located only a half an hour from St. Philip’s. Camp Arrowhead is a residential camp for youth ages eight to seventeen. It provides these youth with a summer camping experience in a Christian environment. This camp is located on Rehoboth Bay and provides many recreational activities. Memorial House is located in Rehoboth Beach and during the summer provides vacation facilities for guests. At other times of the year it is used for retreats and conferences.

Old Christ Church

Parent Church of St. Philips

The first Sunday of each month Old Christ Church holds Rite 2 services at 10:30AM
the first Sunday of October is the "blessing of the animals"
Annual Events also include:
Spring Concert
Christmas Caroling

Intersection of
Chipman Pond Road
and Christ Church Road

Old Christ Church League
P.O. Box 395
Laurel, De 19956
(302) 875-3644
(Weekday Mornings)
Or visit our Facebook Page

Christ Church, Broad Creek Hundred.
Started in 1771 when this area was still part of Maryland, this building served as an active church until the mid-19th century when offshoot chapels were established in the nearby towns of Bridgeville, Seaford, Delmar, and Laurel. Maintained and administered since 1922 by the non-profit Old Christ Church League, it is owned by its successor, St. Philip's Episcopal Church in Laurel for the Diocese of Delaware.

Said to be one of only about a dozen churches along the Atlantic coast to survive unaltered from America's pre-Revolutionary period, the church is known for its pristine interior and the fact that it has never been plumbed, heated, electrified, or painted. The church is open for services during the summer months and available for weddings. It is also open for special events such as a Lessons and Carols service in December.

A 245 Year Old Historic Landmark Still Overlooks Chipman's Pond by Old Christ Church League Old Christ Church in Broad Creek Hundred, located southeast of Laurel, Delaware was constructed between 1770 and 1772 as a Chapel of Ease of Stepney Parish in Maryland. Built on land which was originally situated in Maryland it measures 60 X 40 feet, an unusually large building for its time. This frame church is designed with adaptations of Georgian ecclesiastical traditions. The unpainted interior is embellished with its original heart-of pine plank walls, a tall paneled pulpit with sounding-board with a lower level clerk's reading desk beneath, high-backed enclosed box-paneled pews with doors, a 45° angled kneeling bench, a communion rail with turned balusters, and an unusual barrel-vaulted wooden ceiling.

The church, constructed along the banks of Chipman's Mill Pond before the American Revolution, was supported by a congregation which traveled to services by foot, boat, wagon, carriage, or horseback. The 1788 will of Robert Houston, a resident of Sussex County , identifies him as the builder of Old Christ Church. Documents indicate that Mr. Houston received £510 from Stepney Parish as payment for its construction.

Records indicate that the church was incorporated in the year 1808 under the name of "Trustees of Christ Church in Broad Creek Hundred" Regular worship services were conducted at the church until 1850, when St. Philip's Protestant Episcopal Church was constructed in the town of Laurel . In the year 1912, church trustees called a public meeting of the corporation and resolved to change the name of the corporation to "The Rector, Wardens and Vestry of St. Philip's Protestant Episcopal Church of Laurel ."

The architectural significance of Old Christ Church prompted its listing in the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the nation's historic places deemed worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places now contains more than 90,000 historic properties; 700 of which are in the State of Delaware.

Special services and concerts are held at Old Christ Church throughout the year. Old Christ Church League, a private non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, established to oversee the preservation of this historic church welcomes donations to assist with preservation activities. The League recently replaced the roof with wood shingles in 2013 and is now seeking funds to help preserve its exterior. Since the year 2016 is a special year celebrating the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act, please consider making a donation to Old Christ Church League at P.O. Box 395 Laurel, Delaware 19956.