August 18th, 2012
The Union Chapel in the Grove is a lovely and distinctive piece of Shelter Island’s architectural and spiritual history.
Originally the chapel for a Summer Camp Meeting for Methodists who later moved off island, it is now an interdenominational Christian house of worship.
One hundred and forty summers ago, Methodists organized a Camp Meeting and began holding summer worship services in the open grove. Worship moved indoors when the current chapel was built in 1875, which is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Summering clergymen of various denominations took turns conducting services until 1906, when the appointment of resident ministers started. In 1975, the pattern of rotating clergy was resumed and continues today with many well-known and interesting clergy conducting the summer Sunday services.
Despite periodic renovations, the frame structure remains virtually unaltered. Four memorial windows were installed at the turn of the century. They include two “marine mosaics” flanking the chancel, which require closer examination. They include seashells in their compositions – not just leaded glass! The windows are the work of a local artist, Walter Cole Brigham, who derived his inspiration and materials from the Island’s beaches and includes in the window local sea shells that provide a distinctive translucent glow.
Casual Summer Services take place every Sunday at 10:30 am throughout the summer – a pleasant and historic way to start your Sunday.