Join us at Church Hill on Sunday

Published 12:01 am Friday, June 22, 2018

High on a hill at the intersection of Church Hill Road and Mississippi 553 in Jefferson County sits what people say looks like “a little bit of England.”

What they see is Christ Episcopal Church, a sight so beautiful and serene that people regularly stop to take pictures. 

If you have never seen Christ Church or have not seen it lately, you are invited to join us at a very special worship service on Sunday morning.

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The service will begin at Christ Church at 9 a.m. with prayer, scripture readings and music and then continue at 10:30 a.m. with Holy Communion and music at Trinity Episcopal Church in Natchez.

The joint service, to be led by The Rev. Kenneth Ritter, vicar at Christ Church and priest-in-charge at Trinity, is a way to celebrate the renewed partnership-in-mission of the two churches.

I think a visit to Christ Church is worth your time.

For one thing, it is “one of the state’s most significant examples of Gothic Revival architecture,” according to the National Register of Historic Places nomination form.

Records show that the church was designed by Natchez architect J. Edward Smith and constructed by Nathaniel Loomis Carpenter of Natchez in 1857-58.

Built of brick with stucco, for 160 years the church building has retained most of its original structure and furnishings. The altar, pulpit, lectern, pews, marble font, pipe organ, gallery and stained glass windows are all original.

The church faces north and is flanked on three sides by the church cemetery, filled with graves dating back to the early 1830s.

The current church building is the third structure to house the Christ Church congregation, according to church records.

The first house of worship was a log structure built in 1820 near Fairchilds Creek on land donated in 1819 by Isaac and Peggy Noble.

The second church was built at the present location in 1828 on land donated by Col. James Gillam Wood. About this time the community around Christ Church became known as Church Hill.

The current church was built at the same location, enhanced by additional land on the west side donated by Jane Wood Payne.

A small but devoted group of people has maintained Christ Church all these years, but recently many more people have become interested in joining and revitalizing Christ Church.

Work began this spring to clean and reorganize storage areas, update and refurnish the sacristy, repair and reinforce walls, doors, windows and floors, seal the building and, soon, add central heating and air conditioning.

Earlier this year, I was appointed junior warden of Christ Church by the Right Rev. Brian Seage, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi. In that role, it is my pleasure to help oversee the renovation project. 

Assisting me are other Christ Church leaders, also appointed by Bishop Seage. They are Father Ken Ritter; Marion Smith, Warden representing Trinity Church; Adolph Wagner III, Bishop’s Warden; David Paradise, Treasurer; Virginia “Jinny” Patterson; and Rose Patterson Thompson.

These leaders and all other members of Christ Church invite everyone to come take a look at the work-in-progress.

After the service ends at Trinity Church, a celebratory, complimentary luncheon will take place there in Kuehnle Hall.

Free transportation to Christ Church will depart Trinity Church at 8:30 a.m. sharp and return to Trinity for the second part of the service.

Those wishing to drive to Christ Church can follow the bus from Trinity or drive to the church, which is located 11 miles west of U.S. 61 on Mississippi 553.

We look forward to having you with us.

John Norris is junior warden, Christ Episcopal Church, Church Hill.