The Reverend J. Rice Taylor, who was the priest at Good Shepard in nearby Allegan, led the first recorded Episcopal service in Saugatuck on January 20, 1862. On February 20, 1862, he recorded the first baptism. After a prolonged absence, Taylor returned to the area in 1868, serving as the first rector of both All Saints and Grace Church of Holland. Both parishes give their founding date as 1868.
On November 1, 1868, an Article of Incorporation was signed and in June of 1869 at the diocesan convention All Saints was formally accepted into the Diocese of West Michigan. At that time there were fifty members and twenty communicants.
In 1871 the present Church lot was purchased, and building began in 1872, with Gordon W. Lloyd, considered one of the Midwest’s foremost church architects, drawing up the plans for a “carpenter gothic” Church, which continues to house All Saints. The first services were held on January 25, 1873, as work continued. The beautiful stained-glass windows were installed in 1880.
All Saints continued as an active parish until 1892, when services were discontinued. From 1893-1909 there were no regular services or vestry. There were occasional summer services held at various locations, but not in the sanctuary, because it was in such poor repair, with a leaking roof, falling plaster, broken windows and no heat. In 1917 All Saints was reduced to mission status. In hope of attracting a permanent rector a rectory was built in 1922, due in large part to the women of the parish. Repairs to the sanctuary were also begun. Unfortunately, All Saints did not have weekly services or a rector until 1936 when The Reverend Ethan Allen became the Rector, as well as the Rector of Good Shepard, Allegan. He became the full-time rector in 1943 and began a regular schedule of services, with Holy Communion celebrated every Sunday. This increased membership.
In February 1946 All Saints was reinstituted as a parish. In the 1970s, the Church weathered the storms of a new prayer book and the ordination of women. It also began to invite AA groups to meet in the parish hall, which continues today. In 1973, a Memorial Garden was funded and developed for cremains of members, with a lychgate at its entrance. In 1984 All Saints was designated as both a national and state historical site.
With the exception of performing same-sex marriages, little has changed in recent years. As we identify and develop new ways to serve beyond our doors, we look forward to becoming a stronger presence in the surrounding community.
A more complete history can be found in Built to Last: The First 150 years.