Of more than 7,000 parishes in The Episcopal Church, only 18 are named for The Holy Innocents of Bethlehem, making it fairly rare, and understandably so, given its gruesome meaning. The name comes from a group of children remembered in The Gospel according to Matthew. When the Wise Men came into his territory, looking for The Christ Child, they were interviewed by King Herod. Having learned from them that a new King of the Jews had been born, Herod became afraid; he sent soldiers into the neighborhood of Bethlehem, seeking the Christ Child, to destroy him. Herod's soldiers killed all children in the district, two years of age and under. Those slaughtered children became known as "The Holy Innocents'."
The year 1881 was a momentous one for Beach Haven and for the Episcopal Church of the Holy Innocents' in that Borough. There was no church building, but congregants here had formed the first worshipping community on the island. Bishop Scarborough had asked the Rector of Trinity Church in Moorestown, Rev'd. James Hart Lamb, to read services and preach on LBI as part of his duties, and the good man took a room at the Parry house, a local hotel, to comply with the request.
In the early morning hours of Friday, 12 August 1881, a fire broke out. Dr. Lamb smelled the smoke in time to yell an alarm which awakened the guests who evacuated the building.
No lives were lost.
Captain & Mrs. Parry offered the single donation which established Holy Innocents' Episcopal Church in Beach Haven. It was given in gratitude for the lives of those spared when the Parry House burned down, and in memory of their daughter, Clara Parry Hilger, who had died in childbirth in February 1881. The Church was built over the Winter and Spring of 1881-1882. It stands at the edge of Bicentennial Park in Beach Haven, and now houses the Long Beach Island Historical Society Museum.
The first services were held on 9 July 1882.
Since through the Parry’s generosity there was no debt attached to the building, Bishop Scarborough was present to consecrate that building at its first service ~ a rare and rather remarkable circumstance. Dr. Lamb retained his tenure as Rector of Moorestown, and was additionally appointed Priest in Charge of Holy Innocents' Beach Haven. He lived to be 81 years old. Though he eventually retired from active service as Rector of Trinity, Moorestown, Dr. Lamb retained his association with Holy Innocents' until his death in 1924. There are descendants of Captain & Mrs. Parry who worship in the Parish today.
The Baldwin Hotel, a Victorian seaside spa-hotel that stood in Beach Haven on the block bounded by Atlantic Avenue, Marine Street, Beach Avenue, and Pearl Street, burned down in 1960.
The Rector of the parish at that time, The Rev’d Walter Jocelyn Reed, and a Summer resident and friend of his named Howard Colehower, had the vision and energy to persuade the Vestry of Holy Innocents' to buy the site of the destroyed hotel- the entire city block. Mr. Colehower donated half the purchase price. In 1974, the Parish moved into new quarters on the property where the Baldwin Hotel was once located. Descendants of Howard Colehower still worship at Holy Innocents today.
The church steeple was taken down in order to install a new roof. Over several years, donations came into the church, and on July 11, 2010, a proud new steeple was dedicated.
It was strong enough to survive the devastating Superstorm Sandy in October of 2012.
Measuring tenure from date of first celebration of the Holy Eucharist as Rector to date of final celebration of the Holy Eucharist as Rector:
The Reverend Walter Josselyn Reed, First Rector
1 January 1954 – 4 February 1968
14 years, 1 month, 4 days/5148 days
The Reverend Canon Gilbert Drew Martin, Second Rector
4 February 1968 – 5 May 1985
17 years, 3 months, 2 days/6301 days
The Reverend Donald Joseph Muller, Third Rector
2 February 1986 – 4 August 1996
10 years, 6 months, 3 days/3837 days
The Reverend Frank Boyd Crumbaugh III, Fourth Rector
3 September 1997 – 7 January 2018
20 years, 4 months, 4 days/7430 days
Reverend Daniel W. Hinkle joined us as the full-time
Interim Priest on Friday, June 1, 2018.
He left in April of 2019
The Reverend Doctor Caroline Carson joined us in June of 2019.
Her first service was on June 30.