Christ Episcopal Church

by

Grace McAdam

 

More and more churches in small communities are being closeddown. The Christ Church in St. Vincent is now one of these. Now it is justa symbol of what happens when lack of membership and fundsis present.

Christ Episcopal Church was the first church built in thecounty. It has been standing for 87 years on the same location. It was builtin 1880 and through the years many changes have come upon it. It was totallyremodeled in 1949. A new basement, a new entry, and a new kitchen. Aboutthis time people of the church and community were donating things like thehymn board, the flags, and the lights. Many other things were also donatedfrom memorials. Through the times the church prospered. But as things becamemore modern and fast moving the congregation grew smaller. Finally in 1967,the closing of Christ Church became final.

Without its church members any longer the church startedto get run down. The grass was no longer taken care of, tall weeds and numerousother bushes took over where there used to be a green lawn. The church needpainting, for it was all peeling off. The floors, and windows on the insidewere no longer washed and polished with care. Also, all the flood watersand rain seepage ran into the basement, it left inches of mud on the floorand the moisture warped the floor above. Weeds and grasses weren't the onlythings that had taken over the church. A rabbit had made its home therealso. He decided that he would live in the upstairs of the church insteadof the basement. The rabbit didn't have any trouble finding food for hechewed on the old hymnals, and anything else he found appealing.

The church was falling to pieces rapidly. The tiling onthe upstairs floor wasn't only warped, but it had begun to crack as well.The steps leading down stairs were warped and the ceiling in the basementwas falling down. It was made out of plaster, and the moisture in the basementhad dampened the walls and ceiling through and through.

The Historical Society recognized that the church neededhelp. They had six students from the Humboldt High School, who were workingon the Neighborhood Youth Corps, remodel the church. These students, Sherriand Terry Pede, Margaret Gooselaw, Judy Turner, Gary Wilkie, and myself.We began work the first day by taking everything out of the basement. Therewasn't much left, except some old rotten doors, a refrigerator, and stovethat were rusted beyond use, and inches of mud that had to be scraped offthe floor. After all the work in basement had been done, the upstairs floorswere washed and polished. The windows were also washed and the carpet bythe alter was scrubbed. Then the inside of the church was done we startedon the outside.

The church was scraped from the top to bottom. There wereextension ladders, taken from the old St. Vincent fire hall, used to reachthe peaks of the church.

The paint and equipment that were used to fix the churchup for a museum came from the Coast to Coast store in Pembina, N.D. Allin all there was 34 gallons of paint used. Five gallons of red, and 29 gallonsof white. The church was given two coats of paint. After we started workon the outside of the church we took time out and worked on the church yard.The yard was mowed, and raked several times. Trees and shrubbery were cutdown and then hauled to the St. Vincent dump.

The members of the Historical Society are Mrs. Ada Clinton,President, Mrs. Lillian Lapp, Vice President, and Mrs. Don Easton, who issecretary and treasurer. These are the officers of the society. There aremany other members that also helped reconstruct the Christ Church. Theyhelped us clean, while others supervised us while working.

Mrs. Wilhelmina Johnson bought the church to restore it.She bought it from the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota, for $100.00. Mrs.Johnson, the county commissioner, after buying it turned it over to theHistorical Society of St. Vincent. They had plans of making it into a museum.

We started working on the third week in June, and slowlybegan to make the church something more than an old abandoned building.It was becoming a museum. The pews that were standing in there were takencut except for four of them. The ones remaining are in the front of thechurch. The Historical Society is leaving the front of the church the wayit is, and making the back part into a museum. The society doesn't havemuch to put into it yet, but they have bought show cases, and an antiquesafe. They hope to acquire more things during the future.

The St. Vincent Historical Society, and Mrs. WilhelminaJohnson have helped to save a building, a religious monument, from becomingjust another empty building. The whole community owes thanks to these people,and the many others, like the St. Vincent Elevator for use of their truckfor hauling, and Mrs. Ollie Johnson for the use of her pickup, and tools.Without the help of these people, the church wouldn't become what it is,and hopefully will be.

Bibliography

Bernath, Dora (Mrs.) Interview January 10, 1972

Johnson, Ollie (Mrs.) Interview December 28, 1971

"Kittson County Enterprise" "Land Mark Preservedas Historical Site" March 24, 1971

"Kittson County Enterprise" "St. VincentGroup Restores Church" September 9, 1971n County Enterprise" "St. VincentGroup Restores Church" September 9, 1971