The first record of Episcopal worship in the northern part of the Town of Caroline is from 1878, when services were conducted by “the Rev. Mr. Hawkins, of Ithaca” at the former Dutch Reformed Church, which stood across the road from the present Caroline School. On occasion, the Ithaca parish’s choir would join in the services.


By 1890, a congregation was worshipping regularly in the Slaterville Springs schoolhouse (now the Town Hall), with the Rev. Dr. Moses Coit Tyler as pastor. Tyler was a Congregational minister serving a church in Owego when he was called in 1881 to be Cornell’s first appointed Professor of American History. From 1890 until 1894 sacramental ministry was provided by the Rev. Charles W. McNish, a noted Episcopal missionary priest in the eastern Finger Lakes area. On May 4, 1892 a meeting to organize the parish was held at the school house.  The first wardens were Robert G. H. Speed and James W. Reed. Vestry members were Moses Bull, John Bull, J. D. Schutt, Omar D. Mulks, Charles J. Northrup and William W. White.


From the beginning, St. Thomas’ was served by clergy and lay readers who also had other responsibilities. Most often these included St. John’s, Speedsville. or St. Mark’s, Candor, or both—difficult in those days of horse-powered travel, although Candor was reachable by train from Besemer. This sharing of ministers was to continue in various patterns until 1980.


Except for brief interruptions during the Depression and the 1940s, worship has been offered consistently at St. Thomas’ from 1890 to the present day. The congregation has changed from a village parish largely serving families within walking distance, to a more diverse community whose members come from a much wider area.


Although always a small parish, rarely counting more than thirty households in its membership, it has operated without outside aid since 1980, and is grateful to be able to support needs both local and farther afield with tithes of parish income, and aid to disaster victims at a level which would not be expected from the number of members. From July of 2003 to July 2014 St. Thomas’ administered and largely staffed the Caroline Food Pantry, distributing groceries to hundreds of Town residents twice every month.  St. Thomas continues to support the food pantry with volunteer help.