Christ Church – The First Year

Compiled by Diane Ramerman

The first service of Christ Episcopal Church was Dec. 1, 1890, in a room at the Post Office. Thus, Dec. 1, 2020 marks the beginning of our 130th year. Here is the delightful entry (undated but assumed to be written in the following year) concerning the acquisition of property and building of the sanctuary. Urban myths aside, there is no mention of the Sears kit which was widely used along the West Coast for churches built in the late 1800’s, which has been identified as the external structure of our church building.

“The financial success of the Mission devolved upon the Childs and the Goodwins; and they did most effective work. Mr. Goodwin became treasurer and kept the mission out of debt. The Ladies Guild cooperated most earnestly. The financial success of the mission was due to the persevering industry of the Goodwins and the Childs mentioned above; but the erection of a church building was materially promoted by the gift of two hundred dollars by Mr. George W. Gibbs of San Francisco.  This encouraged all – Bishop Paddock added two hundred more, and John M. Platt, Banker, and one of the clergyman gave one hundred more; and with three hundred or four hundred dollars more from the church people and friends, it was determined to procure a lot and build as much of a church as the money in hand would pay for. The Oregon Improvement Company gave the two lots upon which the church is built, and in the month of October the church was occupied for church service and the Missionary announced to the congregation that there was no debt. It was regarded as a marvel of beauty for the money expended on its interior. It is insured for $500.

There follows a separate one-page record of nine baptisms on March 28, 1891, and confirmations of the same persons on March 29, Easter Day. Three marriages were also celebrated. Quite a significant first year!

Continuing in Community...

Compiled by Sara Andrews in 2010
Edited by June Cook

The beginning of the Episcopal Church in Anacortes dates back before the year 1890 to the time when Bishop Paddock and Dr. Nevins paid occasional visits to the Ship Harbor Settlement. In December 1890, the Rev. W.H. Platt arrived in Anacortes from California to hold the first regular services of the Church, which met in a store room at the Post Office building. By general preference, the mission was called “Christ Church,” and the name was approved by Bishop Paddock of the Jurisdiction of Washington. Furnishings and carpet were purchased, including an Estey organ bought on the installment plan. The son of Rev. Platt led the choir, Maud Woodcock played the organ, and the Benjamin Goodwin and T.B. Childs families were among the original congregants.

In 1891, nine persons were baptized, and ten confirmed; two lots were gifted to the church by the Oregon Improvement Co., and the swelling congregation erected the frame building which stands today at the corner of 7th Street and M Avenue. The new building – described in contemporaneous news articles as ‘a quaint cathedral style’ – was paid for by contributions from the congregation and other citizens of Anacortes; it was insured for $500.

 Shortly thereafter, Rev. Platt was called home, and lay readers continued to hold services. In 1893 the congregation listed 38 communicants; the Rev. Henry Badger was appointed by Bishop Paddock and resumed regular services on the two Sundays a month he was able to be in Anacortes. 

 Just before Easter services in 1897, pews were installed in the church (replacing the spindle back chairs visible in a photo of the interior which is presently displayed in the sanctuary entry); the altar was shipped from New York City around the Cape, up the South American Coast, up our own west coast and to Anacortes. The font and lectern were gifts from the junior and senior Altar Guilds in 1897.  In 1898, Bishop Barker consecrated the brass altar cross given to the church by Mrs. S. A. Conant. Martha Florence Lippencott was baptized, and Henrietta Ford was confirmed. There were two marriages recorded: H. Clay Howard and E. Iris Hurd, and Elmer Stephens and Mary E. Kessinger.

There are few records for the early part of the 20th century, as the congregation size waxed and waned. In 1905, through the efforts of the women’s guild, the two lots adjoining the church property were deeded to the church by communicant Fanny Mae Curtis, sister of Anna Curtis Bowman (said to be the namesake of “Anacortes” and also a member of the congregation). During the tenure of the Rev. F.C. Taylor (1914-1921) the parish house was built as a vicarage.  In 1915, the Church borrowed $1,200 from the American Church Building Fund Commission; the mortgage was paid off within the year thanks to generous contributions from communicants and others.

A new foundation for the church replaced the original four boulders, and the parish house was raised on a new foundation and renovated in 1979 for better use as parish hall and Sunday school; it now houses church offices, a conference room, gathering room, and kitchen.

 In recent years James Parry of Issaquah crafted the stained-glass sanctuary windows. In 1980 the old wooden double entry doors to the sanctuary were replaced with hand carved doors. When the doors were closed, the carvings formed a Celtic Cross, and the four stained portals depict the Seal of the Episcopal Church. Charles Williams, Clarence Steels, and Robert Miller were the artists who designed the doors.  Construction of a narthex entry in 2014 necessitated replacement of the carved doors, and they were mounted on an inside narthex wall to preserve and display their artistry. In 2016 a memorial garden was constructed and dedicated to the memory of deceased congregants or close family members. 

During the time period 1931 to 1954, Christ Church was operated jointly with the two other Episcopal churches in the Skagit Valley, St. Paul’s, Mount Vernon, and St. James, Sedro-Woolley. These churches had memberships of over 150 congregants each in 1954, while Christ Church communicants numbered only 54. Fifty years later, this partnership was renewed as the Komo Kulshan Cluster. In 2003, Celebration Lutheran joined the Cluster, and a year later La Iglesia de la Resurreccion brought the number of participating congregations to five. The Cluster was jointly served by two Missioners, The Rev. Vicki Wesen and the Rev. Terry Kyllo. The Rev. Josephine Beecher; and our Parish Nurse, Deacon Dennis Taylor, also provided strong support to the Cluster. As those people stepped back, Co-Missioners, The Rev. Helen McPeak and Pastor Heidi Fish were installed to lead the Cluster.

In April of 2013 Christ Church adopted the Total Common Ministry model. From the initial Ministry Support Circle, two were ordained priests (The Rev. Diane Ramerman and The Rev. Carol Rodin) and one as Vocational Deacon (The Rev. Eric Johnson.) Two others, Betty Anne McCoy and Dale Ramerman, were commissioned for leadership in support roles.

In 2008, Christ Church contracted to purchase land adjoining the parish hall, with the intent of constructing a large multi-use facility to replace the parish house built more than ninety years before.  With the assistance of many dedicated volunteers from the community, the existing house (formerly the property of St Mary Catholic parish) was renovated for use as an adult day center. Skagit Adult Day Program, based in Burlington, operates Gentry House for clients with Alzheimer’s and other dementia conditions.

Since 1975 the church has owned and operated The Red Door Thrift Shop. Volunteers come from the Christ Church membership and the local Anacortes community. In recent years the annual contribution to local non-profit organizations has been about $40,000.