St. John's Merger
On June 9, 2013, the members of St. John the Evangelist, Bowdoin St., Boston and members of our Cathedral Church of St. Paul voted to merge the two congregations. With the merger, St. John’s joins as a partner in ministry and worship with St. Paul’s, contributing their gifts to create a stronger community and a more welcoming religious space, including a chapel bearing the name of St. John.
The use of St. John’s has a long and honorable history. The historic building was built in 1831 for the Bowdoin Street Congregational Society, led by the Rev. Dr. Lyman Beecher, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s father. Notable parishioners have included the poet T.S. Eliot and Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. Recently, St. John’s was honored to have Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu preach and visit here. Showgirls and Beacon Hill dowagers, sailors and Harvard boys, neighborhood children, monks and nuns have all worshipped together here.
The building has several notable artistic and architectural features. Gothic Revival architect Henry Vaughn, who worshipped here, designed the large hanging crucifix and the four large statues and the wooden screens beneath them. The large pedestal candelabra (Italian, c. 16th century) near the altar are thought to have been the gift of Isabella Stewart Gardner, who occasionally worshipped here and was a major patron of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist. The Black Madonna statue was carved in Bavaria in the 15th century. The stained-glass eagle window at the entrance was designed and contracted by the artist Gyorgy Kepes in 1960.