Christ Episcopal Church

106 Nevin Rd.
Ridley Park, PA 19078-2108

Phone: (610) 521-1626

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(Christ Church interior Photo courtesy of Georgia Reber Elliott, reberjo@citlink.net)

Former Rectors  |  Former Organists  |   Church History  |   Membership Directory

If you have any information and or pictures that you would like to contribute about the history of this church, please forward it to john@oldchesterpa.com


Church History: The following history from Christ Church's 100th Anniversary book was shared with us by Georgia Reber Elliott, reberjo@citlink.net

1. In the Beginning God Created
2. The Heaven and the Earth
3. And thy Neighbor
4. As Thyself
5. The Gifts of God
6. For the People of God

2. The Heaven and the Earth

The vestry met with officials being elected. The accounting warden's report was referred to the finance committee. We appointed three delegates to the Diocesan Convention to keep tabs on activities outside our parish. The Sunday School had a teachers' meeting and decided to buy a "stereopticon" to help illustrate the Bible with pictures. The ladies of the Women's Auxiliary were working hard on missionary boxes to be sent to the Emerald Hodgson Hospital, Sewanee, Tennessee. The Church Club had a meeting with "pathescope" pictures being exhibited and songs by a quartet. The next proposed meeting was to include one Professor Nearing of the University of Pennsylvania - his subject: "Will women fit into politics?" We wonder what he had to say! At our mission in St. James, Prospect Park, there was plenty of action: Girls' Guild, confirmation classes, Adult Bible classes and the Junior Guild were in full swing.

A quotation from the minutes of a 1918 meeting of the Women's Guild at a Chester Convocation luncheon will give an indication of just how much things have REALLY changed:

"Possibly the piece de resistance occurred on May 29, 1918, when, under the forceful leadership of General Mersham, whose executive abilities were put to the test, the girls of her army went over the top, capturing the enemy invasion. The invaders were of a friendly sort - therefore easily handled. Brig. Gen. Dalmas, as commissary, collected food stuffs, Captain Signer shelled out money, Major Flemming squeezed a dollar here and there from anybody who was willing to be touched, so that when the day arrived and the Convocation of Chester marched into the banquet hall, the victory was complete. Lieuts. MacHenry, Stull, Sterling, Heston and Woodruff served the food in the Epicurean fashion and forgot their dignity by rubbing elbows with the common privates whose job it was to hurry food to the hungry mortals who warmed the mess hall, and whose job it was to clean up the camp. Sergeant Madge Rowks endeared herself to all by her gift of a liberty cake, pirated upon by privates and officers (you will notice I mention privates first). Verily it was a day of triumph!"

Let's take a look at the minutes of the Men's Club in 1930. The invitation to the members for the October meeting read "Mr. Saleh Nucho will be our guest speaker. He will tell of the romance of the oriental rug, where and how it is made and what it means." After the meeting a letter was received from Mr. Nucho which said, "may I thank you also for the opportunity you have given me to spread some truths about a hitherto much-abused and misunderstood subject. It was a great privilege for me to talk to an audience so intelligent, so attentive, and so courteous."

The next three guest speakers after this were Harry H. Bates talking about his experiences in construction work during the early development of the flat top mountain region of West Virginia; Mr. J. Walton Maxwell and Mr. Edward C. Fish, who had traveled extensively, particularly among the islands of the Caribbean, telling of their experiences and some of the interesting things they had seen, including, as a climax, a visit to the Pope, and Major George D. Robinson, who served with the British Army during World War I and had seen much active service on the battlefront over a period of five years. One can see that the subject matter was a bit unusual by our standards but, nevertheless, the meetings appear to have been well-attended and enthusiastically received by the some 70 members.

One of the more important groups of unsung heroines of our church is the Altar Guild; an organization that has been going strong under various names since the founding of our parish. To illustrate their work, here are some excerpts from a letter written in 1953 from Winifred Mohr to Elizabeth Coles entitled "Thinking with my pencil on a rainy day: Our needs in the shortage of materials during the war years brought great concern. The chapel had been added with its crucifix, so attics were searched for black crepe materials sheer enough for veils for the crucifix and the processional cross. One of the pieces had to be dyed. Eventually the proper materials were available and new black and purple veils were made and the very old black pulpit fully restored." And later, on describing her search for gold brocade: "Church Supply House, Department Stores, The Clergy; wherever and through whomever it might possibly be found; finally purely by instinct and guidance a suitable remnant was found at Van Sciver's in Camden, the only piece of gold colored material in the store." We can see that not only are making and repairing the vestments a problem but even getting the materials can have its difficult side.

Another group we cannot omit is the Sunday School, which in fact began when the church was started. In 1881, for example, there were eight teachers and 37 pupils. By 1885, there were 60 pupils and by 1892, a total of 75. We could select many excerpts from minutes to indicate what the Sunday School has done over the years. We will, however, cite the minutes of October 17, 1954. The treasurer's report indicated a total of $482.79 in funds. A Halloween party was planned for October 29th. A Christmas pageant and party on December 26th were also in the works. At the Christmas Fair, the Sunday School project was the white elephant stall, with all the pupils trying to obtain items to sell. Probably the most encouraging item, however, was a project to give Thanksgiving baskets to needy families. All these ideas were over and above the normal Sunday School teaching.

Fund raising has also been an important part of church life. An example, which will no doubt bring back some happy memories to some of our parishioners, was a Tom Thumb Wedding in 1964 presented by the Fair Committee. Withstanding the temptation to name names, we will just say that the mother of the bride was none other than Father Bill's eldest daughter, Cheri.

The main fund raiser with which we are all familiar is the Christ Church Fair. The origins of the fair are lost in the mists of time. They appear to be an outcome of the early Women's Guild luncheons and dinners. The effort was directed to paying off the mortgage, and we can find details of the 1921 effort, probably the first. The dinners were turkey on December 1 and chicken salad on December 2. The fair took place during the afternoons and evenings of these days. By the 1930's the fair was back to a parish dinner and occasional rummage sales.

The first fair of our modern era was held on November 29 and 30, 1951. The format was very similar to those of today; a dinner each night along with the white elephant and cake booths. That first effort raised $1,128.32, with $400 being given to the organ and improvement fund and the balance being returned to the organizations. The moneys from all subsequent fairs have been split 40% to the church and 60% to the organizations. One point of note was the the Men's Club was a dominant force in these early days. Before 1951, the Men's Club had organized their own fair for quite a few years. The amounts of money made, however, are a bit sketchy, but we do know, for example, that in 1945, they raised $1,460 at their November Fair. The proceeds were always returned to the booths based on their take and, many times, the Men's Club booths took in more than those of the Women's Club. This contrasts with today's situation in which the Women's organization gets 85% of the proceeds and the men are nonexistent.

The fair never took in less than $1,000. It passed $2,000 in 1959, $3,000 in 1962 and $4,000 in 1969. The best year was 1970 when the profit was $4,329.56. But times are changing and the profit seems to be temporarily pegged. Maybe we will be able to expand again soon. Still, by 1977, the fair has raised over $75,000. (Money which has been put to good use.)

1. In the Beginning God Created
2. The Heaven and the Earth
3. And thy Neighbor
4. As Thyself
5. The Gifts of God
6. For the People of God


2000 John A. Bullock III.

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This page last updated 02/24/07