Christ Church History and Culture
On July 25th, 1943, Christ Church Mission, Charlotte, was formally recognized by the Diocese of North Carolina with 98 families in membership. The impetus for its founding had come from the restrictions on travel imposed by the gas rationing of World War II, plus the realization that the Myers Park / Eastover area would soon be able to support a neighborhood church. The mission grew rapidly and was accepted as a parish at the next Diocesan Convention. The land on which the church now stands was acquired, but soaring construction costs and scarcity of many materials made the building of a permanent structure prohibitive. Instead, a Quonset hut was erected, largely through the labor of the congregation, on a portion of the land. It served both as a church and parish house for several years. The Quonset hut was used in various capacities until it was destroyed by fire in 1969.
On December 1st, 1951, the cornerstone for the present church and parish hall was laid. Since its completion in 1952, several additions have been made to the parish hall. Additional Sunday School classrooms were built in 1963, and in 1978 All Saints' Hall was added to the existing structure. In 1991, the Jubilee Fund was established in order to assist in the building of additional space for educational classes, clergy and staff offices, and rooms for our choir and youth programs. In 1980, a Gabriel Kney twenty-six-stop organ was installed in the balcony of the Nave. And in 2004, as a result of the One In The Spirit campaign, there were additional renovations of classrooms, office space and All Saints' Hall.
Over the years, the programs of Christ Church have been enlarged and altered to meet more adequately the needs of an ever growing congregation, which is now the largest in the Diocese. The city of Charlotte has also undergone great change. Christ Church has been challenged to respond creatively to the problems of suburban growth, of inner city decay, of economic inequity, and of a still segregated society. Two areas of ministry were initiated to assist in facing these challenges.
Mission: A new mission located south of Christ Church, now Saint John's Parish, was organized in 1956. In 1965, Operation Partnership, a concerted effort to become more involved with residents of the inner city, was begun. This project later became an ecumenical endeavor in association with other Myers Park churches. In 1988, Christ Church assisted in the development of the mission congregation, Saint Margaret's in Charlotte. In 1990, Christ Church assisted in the development of two mission congregations, Saint Clare's, Mint Hill and Saint Catherine's, Harrisburg. In 1991, the parish began its support of a new mission in the Lake Norman area, Saint Patrick's, Mooresville. In 2000, the parish began support of another new mission, Church of the Beloved, Charlotte.
Along with other Episcopal Churches in Charlotte, Christ Church helped launch Trinity Episcopal School in the center of uptown Charlotte. Trinity Episcopal opened its doors in August of 2000 with 102 students in grades K-5. Currently the school enrollment for the 2008-2009 year is 416 students in grades K-8.
Outreach: Outreach has always been a significant part of life at Christ Church. Under the direction of the Rev. Thom Blair, 25% of the total budget was designated for use outside the parish. "Matthew 25," a three-year program to respond to the needs of the hungry throughout the world, was launched in 1974 and exceeded its goal of $250,000. "The Saint Francis Fund" was a ten-year, million dollar campaign to combat poverty in all forms. This fund reached its goal in 1992. In celebration of the church's fiftieth year, a new and ambitious outreach ministry was created. "Seeds of Hope" was a five-year effort to involve everyone in the parish by reaching out in love, compassion, and caring. The campaign's two million dollar goal is only one part of "Seeds of Hope." Fifty percent of the money raised was used for ministry in the Hope Triangle, an area of tremendous need located in northeast Charlotte. Forty percent of the money was used for new outreach initiatives in Charlotte. The final ten percent went to the Presiding Bishop's Fund for World Relief.
From 1999-2001 Christ Church planned a joint capital and outreach campaign, called One In The Spirit (OITS). Executed in 2002 eleven million dollars was raised, 15% of these funds went to outreach to address homelessness and education locally and to support mission trips to El Salvador and Costa Rica, our companion diocese. As we move forward, the recommendations from OITS pinpoint the need for affordable housing with support services to enable homeless people to become self-sufficient and for continued support for education in our community. We are also exploring ways to continue to build relationships in Costa Rica and Botswana and to help restore Katrina devastated communities on the Golf Coast.
Soon after the arrival of our current Rector, the Rev. Chip Edens, Christ Church began a five-year strategic planning process that resulted in a plan called, Expanding Our Vision. Expanding Our Vision outlines specific goals and planning for each of our primary areas of ministry at Christ Church. Christ Church is currently in its third-year of fulfilling the goals for the Strategic Plan.
Christ Church has been blessed with strong, visionary leadership and a committed congregation since its inception. The parish stands ready today to meet the challenges of the coming years with the same dedication, creative planning, and Christian concern with which it was begun.