The History of Christ Episcopal Church, Clarksburg, West Virginia

 

 

Christ Episcopal Church in Clarksburg, the oldest religious facility in Harrison County to continuously host the same denomination, is a recognized landmark in West Virginia.

Prior to the completion of construction in 1854, the Episcopal Church was present in Clarksburg but lacked a permanent home and continuing services of a resident clergy.

 

The Reverend William Ward was the first Episcopal minister to live in Clarksburg.  He arrived in the mid-1830's and remained until 1837.  The Rt. Reverend William Meade made the first Episcopal visitation in 1834.  In September of 1852 Bishop Meade sent the Reverend R. A. Castleman, a newly ordained Deacon, to Clarksburg as a missionary.  Reverend Castleman would be ordained as a presbyter in November of 1853.   He enthusiastically sought new members and funding for a permanent place of worship, thus establishing the active parish life of Christ Church.

 

 

Construction was started on the present facility in 1852.  Christ Church was consecrated, debt free, to

God on 20 April 1856.  Upon the departure of Reverend Castleman in 1858, services were limited to a bi-monthly schedule.  During the early years of the Civil War, Christ Church was appropriated as a garrison for Federal troops, consequently, the church interior was subjected to significant damage. Regular services were not resumed until 1872.

 

In 1876 after much debate, the formation of the Diocese of West Virginia was presented before the Council of Virginia.  The recommendation made by the clergy and laity representatives of West Virginia was relative to the separation from Virginia.  Participants of the conference held in Parkersburg voted overwhelmingly in favor of the separation and won approval from the General Council at that time.  On Assension Day in 1887, the Rt. Reverend George W. Peterkin was consecrated as West Virginia's first Bishop.

 

 

By the end of 1891 Christ Church was self-sustaining when it purchased the rectory adjacent to church property.  In 1893 several improvements were made to the original structure which included:  enlargement of the altar area, addition of the vestry room, installation of a pipe organ, removal of the slave galleries, addition to the chancel end of the church, and rearrangement of the pews to provide a central aisle. 

 

The first Parish House (now the gymnasium, nursery, and music room) was completed in 1910 and became a focal point for ministry to young men and boys in the community.  The current Parish House was completed in 1925.

 

As one of the oldest churches in the area, Christ Church was responsible for the founding of other Episcopal churches in the area.  St. Thomas, Northview, was established in the spring of 1899 as a Mission Church and held services in a small schoolhouse on the outsirts of town.  All Saints Mission, a predominantly African American congregation, operated as an independent church from 1940-1962.  Upon closing its doors, the majority of the congregation transferred to Christ Church.

In 1967 land was purchased in Bridgeport with the objective of establishing an Episcopal church in that community.  Ground was broken in June of 1968.   The first service was held at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in January of 1969.   A rectory was purchased in December of that same year.   This new church paid off its debts and celebrated by burning the mortgage and achieving full parish status in 1983.   

In the mid 1990's Christ Church Clarksburg underwent extensive renovations.  These included a total renovation of the sanctuary, repair and refurnishing of the stained glass windows, installation of a new heating and air conditioning system, new roof, replacement windows in the Parish House and gymnasium, building a Columbarium in the Memorial Garden, a new Courtyard Garden, and a parking lot. The Rt. Reverend John Smith, 6th Bishop of West Virginia, rededicated Christ Church at a Festival Eucharist in August, 1997. 

 

In 1999 Christ Church Clarksburg and St. Barnabas Bridgeport merged to become one parish with one vestry, one priest and office staff, but two worship sites.  St. Barnabas took the name of St. Barnabas Chapel.  

 

In 2003, Christ Church proudly celebrated "150 years of Serving Christ and Community."  Parish members actively participate within our Deanery, the Diocese of West Virginia, and in the National Church.  Our service to the community includes a richness of music and worship programs and a variety of outreach programs and activities.