At left is a photo of the first Christ Episcopal Church building. The cornerstone was laid by Bishop J. F. Spaulding on July 31, 1876 and the first service was held there on Sunday, Dec. 17, 1876. It stood at the southwest corner of 5th and Macon and served the parish until the present church was erected in 1902.
The First Hundred Years The snow fell softly. It was a mild night and the snow melted almost as quickly as it landed. There were puddles in the road as the carriages came to a stop in front of the home of C. G. Stanley in South Canon.
Inside, the logs in the fireplace glowed a welcome. Mr. and Mrs. Stanley were cordial in their greetings to their guests.
By 7:30, perhaps as many as 20 were seated. From St. Peter's Church in Pueblo, the Rev. S. R. Edwards had come, fighting the storm the last 15 miles or so. He was glad to find the Stanley home, after asking directions at the Fremont House.
Now warmed and feeling at home, he suggested that all rise. The Rev. Edwards offered prayers that his new mission might be successful in its undertaking; that it might grow and prosper.
Thus, did Christ Church come into being in this frontier village. The date was December 10, 1871.
Actually, Episcopal services had been held here as early as the mid-1860s. The records of the diocese show that Bishop Randall had celebrated communion in Canon City as early as 1866--certainly not more than a small handful, perhaps as many as half a dozen, had been in attendance.
A rather discouraging picture faced the newly-organized mission. They had no church building, they had no funds, the church had lost money in an ill-fated school venture and it was in a community that looked not too kindly on a proposal for a "new church".
However, the Baptist congregation offered their aid. Their church building was made available for services on every other Sunday, the first being held there on Jan. 8, 1872.
The first mission priest to be called to Canon City as resident pastor was the Rev. M. T. Sorenson of Colorado Springs, who was called on July 5, 1874. Rev. Sorenson received a salary of $300 from the parish, so he also taught school during this time.
Following the Rev. Sorenson was the Rev. William Gill, under whose rectorship the first church was constructed (pictured above). He began his mission work on Sunday, May 14, 1876. Formal consecration of the building was by Bishop Spaulding on St. Paul's day, January 25, 1877.
Thus ended the earliest period of the church, a short era filled with disappointments and difficulties, but marked by accomplishments and advancements.
In the late 1870s and early 1880s, Christ Church remained on a mission basis. The work in Canon City was combined with that of the Episcopal churches in Rosita and Silver Cliff.
One ministerial notation of the period is worthy of mention. It was penned by the Rev. C. D. Mack as follows: "Took charge of Christ Church Nov. 1, 1879 and here record my profound thanks to Almighty God that, at the Feast of the Epiphany, 1880, I am permitted to get away alive." The Rev. Mack neglected to say, and history does not record, whether he referred to rampaging Indians or irate Episcopalians.
Ground was broken for the rectory, just west of the church on Jan. 16, 1890. But by early 1898 there began to be talk of the need of a larger church building. It was first discussed formally by the vestry on April 3, 1899. Plans began to develop rather rapidly with these results:
Sept 3, 1900: The Rev. William W. Ayres, late of Trinity Church, Lawrence, KS, entered upon his duties a rector of Christ Church.
June 26, 1901: At a special meeting of the vestry, an offer was received for the old church and lots that was accepted and it was voted to build a new church elsewhere. Lyman Robison agreed to buy the lots on the new (and current) site at 8th and Harrison.
Jan. 31, 1902: Plans of Thomas MacLaren of Colorado Springs were accepted for the church.
July 1902: Contract for the new church was let to George E. Trout.
July 14 1902: Ground was broken for the new Christ church.
Oct. 22, 1902W: Cornerstone was laid.
June 28, 1903: The first public worship service was held in the new church with Bishop Charles S. Olmstead officiating, assisted by The Rev. W. W. Ayres. With the dedication of the church, ended the first half of the history of Christ Church parish.
Rev. William W. Ayres and his wife at the Rectory, 1902.
Christ Episcopal Church at 8th and Harrison Avenue, Canon City, CO.
The More Modern Period
1909: The Church school conducted a special campaign for funds for a new altar to the memory of Mrs. Mary A. Robison, who, with her husband, Lyman Robison, did so much to make possible the new church.
1918: Church closed for 11 Sundays in autumn because of epidemic of Spanish influenza.
Nov. 25-28, 1928: The 25th anniversary of the building of our present church was celebrated. Bishop Ingley was present for three days for special celebrations.
June, 1932: Dedication by Bishop Irving P. Johnson of the Altar Tabernacle and Sanctuary lamp, a gift from Mrs. Mary L. DuBois.
Dec. 1941: Dedication of stained glass window in sanctuary, given by Mrs. L. A. Crittenton in memory of her husband, Father Crittenton, 14 years rector of the parish. Also given as a memorial to Father Crittenton, by members of the church through subscription, were the present Sanctus Bells in use at the altar.
1952: The residence to the east of the church was purchased from Mr. and Mrs. Blake Rogers for Sunday School use. It was named Little Annex, honoring W. T. (Doc) Little, who had served a number of years as Sunday School teacher and superintendent.
1960: That building was razed to make way for the new Parish House, the east wing that balances the 1903 Guild Hall on the west of the main church. This addition contained a dining and meeting room, kitchen, storage, and stairway to the basement.
Dec. 11-12, 1971: The church celebrated its 100 years of fruitful existence with Bishop Thayer and former rectors in attendance, a reception, and dedication of the new chapel in the redecorated Guild Hall wing.
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