DANVERS — As the first priest in charge at All Saints Episcopal Church of the North Shore, the Rev. Marya DeCarlen has a lot on her plate.
She has taken the reins of a new church, formed by the merger a year ago of Calvary Episcopal in Danvers and St. Paul’s Episcopal in Peabody. Both churches date back more than 100 years but, faced with smaller memberships, decided to consolidate to cut costs, reduce overhead and grow membership.
They came together in the former Calvary church at Cherry and Holten streets, and as time has passed, DeCarlen said members no longer talk about belonging to their former churches.
Decarlen has been listening to parishioners and plans to do a lot more listening before any decisions are made about the future of the church.
“What I have told this parish is that the first year of a priest coming to be with a new parish is the time for being a historian and a lover,” DeCarlen said. “A historian to collect the stories that make up who they are, and a lover so that they know they are cared for. And, once those stories have been heard and embraced, then a vision can come out of that.”
The rector at St. James Church in Groveland for 11 years, DeCarlen started at the new church the first Sunday after Easter. About 130 people came to her first service and 100 on her second Sunday. She estimates the blended church has about 300 members.
Practical matters of the merger are among the issues DeCarlen and the membership will be facing.
The campus in Peabody, with the 1913 church building and rectory, is up for sale.
“The funding that (comes from) the sale of that can be used for simple infrastructure needs here before we decide whether or not we are going to stay in this campus or move to another campus,” DeCarlen said.