The Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields is an Episcopal parish in the Diocese of Pennsylvania that is centered on the worship of God, the ministry of all baptized persons, and the call to be agents of Christ’s love in the world.
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A Letter from the Interim Rector
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Rubrics Expanded
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Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields
8000 St. Martin’s Lane
Philadelphia, PA 19118

The Rev. Louis H. Temme

The Parish

St. Martin’s is a large, diverse parish with a program to match. We are located in the heart of Chestnut Hill, a neighborhood ten miles northwest of central Philadelphia. About half the parishioners live in the immediate Chestnut Hill/Mount Airy neighborhoods; others come from a wide geographic area of urban and suburban communities. Parishioners have a variety of religious backgrounds, including lifelong Episcopalians, converts from Judaism, transfers from other Christian denominations, and those who have joined a church for the first time.


The origins of the Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in Chestnut Hill are tied to the life and work of its founder, wealthy entrepreneur Henry Howard Houston (1820-1895). An officer of the Pennsylvania Railroad and a real estate investor, Houston built the church as an integral part of “Wissahickon Heights,” a planned railroad suburb on the west side of Chestnut Hill. Designed by brother architects George W. and William D. Hewitt, the church building is evocative of the late Victorian Gothic style. Houston deeded the property to the vestry in his will. Formal consecration took place on St. Martin’s Day, 1895.

Gifts of Houston descendants to the original structure include a baptistery (1899), now used as a healing chapel, stained glass windows in the north transept (1901), the St. Martin’s window over the west entrance (1905), and the Trinity window in the chancel (1949). Recent years have seen the addition of a columbarium and a set of “change ringing” bells cast by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in England.


Worship is central to the life of the parish.

The four celebrations of the Holy Eucharist each Sunday (there is a 2-service schedule, at 8 and 10, during the summer months) reflect the community’s breadth and depth and emphasize the active participation of the laity.

The 8:00 service uses Rite II without music.

The 9:00 service is liturgically informal and innovative, a Rite II service with a combined adult and youth choir, which is especially appropriate for families with older children. The congregation gathers around the altar at communion and children help break the bread. The congregation serves the bread and wine to each other.

For the very youngest Christians (toddlers and preschoolers) there is a special 10:15 Eucharist designed to develop their sense of God. The scripture reading and traditional Episcopal prayers are simplified. A children’s homily is told. Simple songs are sung. Children participate in many aspects of the service from carrying the processional cross, answering questions at the homily, and offering their own prayers of intercession.

The final service on Sunday is a more formal Rite II service with the full St. Martin’s adult choir.

There is a Eucharist and healing service at midday on Wednesday and on the first Sunday of each month (October through May), the St. Martin’s Choir is featured in a Choral Evensong service at 5:00.


Music plays an integral role in the life and worship of the parish. Central to our philosophy of music is the concept of congregational participation. Whether it takes the form of singing an anthem in one of the choirs or singing a hymn from the pew, it is our goal to incorporate every member of this worshipping community into the musical life of the parish.

St. Martin-in-the-Fields has a strong tradition of choral music. The current program includes a Chorister Training Program for boys and girls beginning in the third grade. This group, together with older youth and adult singers, forms the Parish Choir, and leads the music at the 9:00 AM Eucharist twice each month. The Adult Choir, which sings weekly, is an auditioned group of volunteer and professional singers. The Handbell Choir is open to young people and adults.

Parish Membership

Parish Membership in St. Martin’s is defined by the Canons of the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Pennsylvania, and by the by-laws of this parish.

While everyone is invited to participate in the ongoing life of this community of faith, in order to be considered an official member with privileges of voting and holding office, one must:

1. be eighteen years old,
2. attend worship with regularity,
3. contribute to the parish through the annual stewardship program for the current year and have pledged or contributed during the previous year, or in a manner known by the Rector,
4. be recorded in the parish records as baptized in a Christian church (with the date and place of baptism on file),
5. and have notified the parish in writing of one’s intention to become a member (often accomplished by requesting a eltter of transfer, for example, from one’s former parish).

Letters of transfer from another Episcopal parish must be arranged for by the individual. Contact your former parish office and request to be transferred to St. Martin’s.

Individuals who are not baptized and would like to join the St. Martin’s community should make an appointment with the Clergy.

Finally, baptized members of another Christian denomination may request membership in St. Martin’s directly by completing forms that can be gotten by contacting the parish office. One form should be completed for each member of your household.