In the mid the mid-1800s, perhaps it is not surprising that some influential people in Chelmsford were against the idea of Episcopal services in Chelmsford Center. Anna’s Sunday School, sure, but a forming church community when there were already established churches? Just hold on there!
Rev. Hutchins of Saint John’s, who supported Anna’s efforts, wrote of the situation this way:
“As the work has prospered, the combined influences of Baptists, Unitarians and Universalists has succeeded in excluding us from place after place until now we have no shelter to protect us.”
“Opposition has arisen towards us! This has been carried so far as to drive us from various places where we have held our services, and at last by direct petition to the Selectmen, to exclude us from the Town Hall, where we thought we had pretty safe refuge. All this has been done by the two prevailing religious bodies of the town.”
The deed of the town hall did prevent services from being held elsewhere in the building while other services were being held, but they allowed services to be held at other times. Still, the petition was successful, and the town gave Anna the news on March 30th, 1867.
Anna and supporters had seen this coming and were already working on gathering funds to buy a piece of property for the growing community. The eviction energized the effort, and the property was purchased a year later.