In 1921, a group of local residents recognized the need for an Episcopal church between Dover and Morristown. They met at various locations in Morris Plains and Morris Township, beginning regular services on Christmas Day in 1921. At that time, they adopted the name "Christ Mission Church", arrangements were made with a local union hall to regularly hold worship services in their space, and a Sunday School was formed. By 1924, the name of the church was changed to St. Paul's (a move that caused a considerable stir among some of the founding members for some unknown reason). Around this time, the first confirmands were presented to the Bishop.
As the congregation grew, members realized the need for a permanent, larger facility and they purchased property at the corner of Hillview Avenue and Mountain Way in Morris Plains. Our present church was built at this site and dedicated in 1928. The church, a developing mission at the time, struggled financially through the depression years, served by a series of Vicars.
In May 1949 a layman, John C. Van Dyk, was appointed Lay Reader in Charge. Following his ordination, Father VanDyk was appointed the ninth Vicar, and in 1955 became the first Rector of St. Paul's. At this time, St. Paul's began its sponsorship of Alcoholics Anonymous, Alanon and Alateen. Our relationship with various AA and other twelve-step groups continues to this day.
The Rev. Roy J. Hendricks served as St. Paul's second Rector from 1961 until 1971. During his tenure, the congregation grew significantly and the present education and office space was built.
The Rev. David H. Hamilton came to St. Paul's as a curate, and in 1971 became the third Rector. He served at St. Paul's for 25 years. Under Fr. Hamilton's guidance, St. Paul's became known as a teaching parish in the Diocese of Newark, outreach programs were expanded and ecumenical ties with other churches in Morris Plains blossomed. During his tenure, Abigail Painter, affectionally known as "Abby", became the first woman to be ordained a priest in the Diocese of Newark, here at St. Paul's.
The Rev. Joanne Murphy was called as St. Paul's fourth Rector and its first woman priest in charge. She served the congregation from 1996-1997. On her departure, a series of interim priests served the congregation for the next six years.
The Rev. Paul V. Olsson, our present Rector, came to St. Paul's in 2003. Fr. Paul has been very instrumental in helping us embrace the challenges of maintaining a building that is close to 100 years old and dealing with the rapidly changing times in which we live. During his tenure we've strengthened our ministries for families with children, reconnected with our neighbors through a greater cooperative bond with the Presbyterian Church of Morris Plains, strengthened our capacity for pastoral ministry, expanded the parish's Memorial Garden and started addressing the many deferred maintenance issues that challenge our aging buildings.