1844 – Episcopal City Mission was incorporated. Its seeds were two ministries—a shelter for homeless street people in the North End and a Sunday School for homeless children run by two women members of Trinity Church that took place in a sail loft on Atlantic Avenue. These two missions caught the attention of a wealthy merchant, Mr. William Appleton, who donated $50,000 to build a chapel to house them, the first St. Stephen’s.
1872 – The first St. Stephen’s was destroyed by a fire.
1888 – The present St. Stephen’s in Boston’s South End was acquired. Under the leadership of The Rev. Frederic Allen, ECM started a youth program, the Mother’s Rest, and other religious, social, educational and recreational programs.
1938 – The first Morville House on Clarendon Street was opened under the leadership of Suffragan Bishop Raymond A. Heron.
1944 – At the celebration of its 100th birthday, ECM had ministries for the foreign born, the sick, prisoners, seamen, mothers and children. Eleven mission centers had been built, including: St. Stephen’s, South End; St. Cyprian’s, Roxbury; St. Luke’s, Chelsea; three churches in South Boston, two in East Boston, one in Revere, and two immigrant non-English speaking churches —one Swedish in Dorchester, and one Italian in Boston. They also owned and operated a summer camp in Foxboro, Sailors’ Haven in Charlestown, and Mothers’ Rest at Revere Beach.
1956 – 1962 John Burgess, as Archdeacon of Boston, was superintendent of ECM.
1962 – John Burgess elected Bishop Suffragan.
Early 1960’s – ECM deeded the mission churches to the Diocese. By disengaging from parochial responsibilities, ECM was able to redirect its strategy.
1966 – 1981 – The Reverend Gilbert Stiles Avery III appointed the first Executive Director of ECM. Under his leadership, Morville House in the Fenway was built and the Housing Seed Money Loan Fund was created in the early 1970’s (see below).
1970 – John Burgess elected Diocesan Bishop. A grant program to enable urban parishes to work with their communities was established.
Early 1970’s – The Housing Seed Money Loan Fund was established, and in its 25 years of existence the program enabled the construction of more than 4000 units of affordable housing.
1972 – Morville House was built in the Fenway, providing 146 apartments to low income elderly.
1976 – Bishop Burgess retires and asks that a tribute to him be a collection of money to be given to community-based organizations that were empowering the poor. That was the beginning of the Burgess Urban Fund. He specifically requested that the money be given out directly rather than made into an endowment.
1980’s – Under the leadership of Joe Pelham, ECM began to engage in public policy work. The first policy paper was developed “Housing as a Basic Human Right.”
1990’s – ECM began to work with the parishes on economic justice, and the Pelham Fund for Economic Justice was established.
Today – We have learned from the history of ECM that many of the social problems which have been addressed through the years by ECM are still with us today: homelessness, special needs of immigrants, low-income mothers and children, low-income elderly, prisoners, the sick, to note a few.
We have learned that addressing the symptoms of social problems is not enough: we must address causes and work for changing the system that perpetuates them. And we can look at the various ways in which these problems have been addressed: housing the homeless, strengthening churches, working with secular agencies to empower the poor and oppressed, and attempting to influence public policy to address root causes.