A History of Christ Church 1890 - 1894

A History of Christ Church 1890 - 1894


To pick up where we left of last time, you’ll remember that the Rector, the Rev Horatio Gates had left for Durango, Colorado in March 1890. In June, he returned to the area to raise money for his new parish. He conducted services at Christ Church on June 8 and 15, and a Burial Service for seventeen-year-old George Yates Gilbert Murray, the only surviving child of Mrs. Thomas Swinyard by her first marriage to James Armstrong Murray, who had died years earlier in South Africa. He then returned to Colorado leaving Christ Church again without a Rector.

His successor, the Rev. David MacDonald, came at first on a trial basis and conducted services on August 17, 24, and 31, 1890. A telegram unexpectedly calling him to San Francisco on business, he left on September 4 for an absence of almost two months. Upon his return, the Vestry elected him as Rector and on December 7, he resumed his duties, conducting services at Christ Church and at St. Stephen’s Chapel (Maple Grove). His family joined him in Gilbertsville the week before Christmas.

During his ministry, which was cut short less than four years later by his illness and death, Christ Church acquired its first benefactors in the persons of Mr. And Mrs. Thomas Swinyard. From 1891 on they spent much of each year at the Hall, which Mrs. Swinyard had inherited from her parents, the George Yates Gilberts. Mr. Swinyard joined the Vestry in March, 1891, and by 1894 had put it on a businesslike basis, acting as Chairman and as Clerk. In this latter capacity, he provided an admirable model for future keepers of minutes, which, unfortunately for historians, was not always followed.

Between 1890 and 1894, Mrs. Swinyard presented Christ Church with a brass altar cross and a brass lectern as memorials to her son and to her first husband. New pews were procured, and the church was repaired and put into good condition. …(N)ew carpet was presented. The old pews and cushions were given to St. Stephen’s and the debt on the Chapel was paid off. The women of the Parish were organized into the Christ Church Guild, which carried on much effective work, among other things providing a new furnace, a new set of lamps, and a lamp for the new lectern. Until halted by illness, MacDonald served the mission of St. Stephen’s and assisted the Rector of Morris by holding services once a month at the Morris Memorial Chapel.

After returning Christ Church to good repair, The Reverend David MacDonald fell ill in July and died August 19, 1894 at age 57. He is buried at the Morris memorial Chapel.

The brass Altar Cross and lectern mentioned above are still in use at Christ Church. The Altar Cross sits on the mantle in the Parish House, and the lectern supports the prayer list and visitors book in the Narthex.

Next time we’ll hear why there was “animadverting” among the women of Christ Church.


  July 2021  
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