[Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut press release] The building formerly known as Bishop Seabury Episcopal Church on North Road in Groton is set on a new path to serve God’s mission in Groton and beyond. The Episcopal Church in Connecticut had maintained a parish presence on the site since 1966 when the congregation relocated there from its former home at Fort Street in Groton. Beginning on Aug. 15 the property will become the new home of Stedfast Baptist Church.
The building became available for repurposing following the departure of its worshipping community from The Episcopal Church because of theological differences. After a prolonged legal challenge, the property remained part of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut.
For the last 18 months lay and ordained leaders from the Bishops’ Office and from Episcopal parishes in Gales Ferry, New London, Niantic, Norwich, Poquetanuck, Stonington, Mystic, and Yantic worked closely together to discern what God is up to in Groton and its environs, and how the resources of the Bishop Seabury Church might best be used to extend God’s mission in Groton and across Connecticut. In a community-wide meeting in January, representatives of the neighborhood, social service agencies, other faith communities, and municipal offices all shared their hopes and dreams, needs and aspirations for Groton.
Following the community meeting Episcopal leaders pursued wide-ranging options for the property with possibilities including: housing for wounded veterans, a community center, and a soup kitchen. In the end it was decided that the best option would be to sell the building to another Christian community and use the proceeds to support a new missionary program of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut.
During this period of discernment, leaders of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut were in conversation with members of Stedfast Baptist Church, currently located at 1041 Poquonnock Road in Groton. As God would have it, the leaders of Stedfast Baptist Church, a long-time and respected Christian church in the Groton community, were looking to relocate to a new and larger facility. In a matter of months an agreement had been worked out between the two churches.
The Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, the Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas, said of these developments: “I am delighted that the building formerly known as Bishop Seabury Church will continue to be a house of prayer for sisters and brothers in Christ. And I am particularly excited that the resources freed up by the sale of the building will help to underwrite a new missionary program through the Missionary Society of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut. After all, Bishop Samuel Seabury, the first bishop in The Episcopal Church, was a pioneering missionary in these parts in the early years of American independence. I can think of no better use of the money coming from the sale of the church that bears his name than to support new missionaries in Connecticut today.”