Historic OC Church Features New Light Display

Historic OC Church Features New Light Display
New lighting can be seen at the historic St. Paul’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in downtown Ocean City. Submitted Photo

OCEAN CITY – New lighting, landscaping and audio capabilities highlight recent changes at a historic Ocean City church.

In recent months, officials at St. Paul’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church have been hard at work making changes to the historic building. In addition to new landscaping and fencing, the property also features an automated bell system and new lighting, which will be changed for various holidays.

“It’s very fulfilling to know that the church congregation is supportive and wants to preserve the church for the next generation,” said Junior Warden Bob Rothermel. “That’s what we’re trying to do, make sure the church stays around for future generations.”

Rothermel said improvements at the church began in earnest two years ago. During the height of the COVID pandemic, he said, the church installed cameras to livestream services and monitors to display hymns and readings. Since that time, officials have put together a capital improvement program that incorporated changes to the building’s exterior.

“We were looking to do a makeover of the curb appeal of the church,” he said, noting that the building was constructed more than 120 years ago. “It takes a lot to maintain it, and we thought it might be time to give it a fresh update.”

With financial support from Mann Properties, Polynesian Condominium, the Ocean City Development Corporation and the Ruggerio Foundation, as well as donations from the congregation, Rothermel said St. Paul’s was able to install lighting on the church’s exterior. He said light colors will change for various holidays.

“It will augment the season,” he said. “We had red lights for Valentine’s Day and blue and yellow lights for the first anniversary of the war in Ukraine. The lights will also change for St. Patrick’s Day and the Fourth of July.”

Rothermel added that the illuminated steeple also features a new audio system, which will broadcast the church’s bell chimes every day at noon.

“We thought that if the steeple was 120 years old and the bells are 120 years old, maybe we should put speakers in the bell tower and extend the life of the infrastructure,” he explained. “So we hired a company to record our bells.”

Rothermel said recent improvements at the church were completed with the help of local companies, including Royal Plus, Mid South Audio and Chesapeake Landscaping.

He noted the changes are not necessarily a rebranding effort, but a reminder of the church’s presence within the community.

“We wanted to take the steps necessary to ingratiate ourselves and stay connected with the community,” he said. “We also want to preserve the history of our church and continue to stay there for years to come.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.