Christ Church Kent from old undated postcard, prior to 1920s.
Christ Church, Franklin Mills, was organized by twenty-five dedicated people in the red schoolhouse on Stow Street on October 11th, 1935. It was the fourth denomination to organize in Kent and the fourteenth parish in the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio. Ten years of lay services in various homes preceded the organization of the parish.
The first church building was consecrated in 1838. The present church is standing on the site of the original. In 1867, the interior was redecorated; om 1900 the building was lengthened at the front, adding a sacristy, and vestry, and new pews to create a center aisle. In 1927, the building was completely remodeled to the appearance it has today. The undercroft was excavated, creating more space, and a new stone altar in memory of William S. Kent was put in place. In 1958, an education wing and parish hall were added. The one-story education wing was replaced with a two-story wing in 2002.
Early rectors had shared responsibilities with nearby parishes. When there was no rector, laymen held services. The parish had full-time clergy from 1898.
Parish organizations have played a major role in sustaining the church spiritually and financially. The principal group was St. Mary's Guild (1895-1982) which several times saved the parish financially. other significant organizations have been St. Hilda's, the Altar Guild, the Episcopal Church Women, the Men's Club, and the Brotherhood of St. Andrew.
The sesquicentennial (150th) of the parish was marked with some gifts and improvements to the fabric of the building. Four new stained glass windows representing aspects of the ministry of Christ Church were added between 1985 and 1997. These windows were made in Kent by a local firm. New needlepoint kneelers were installed at that time, with additional ones in 1999. A time capsule, which contains many photographs and artifacts and is to be opened in 2035 was buried near the present parking lot to celebrate the sesquicentennial.
In November 1990, the church of the room literally collapsed. The church building was evacuated, and our home away from home was an empty furniture store donated by a local family in Kent. The "Raise the Roof" campaign ($150,000) was wonderfully successful due to the faith, confidence, support, and many talents of all the members of the congregation. On September 8th, 1991, we triumphantly returned to our church building with a completed roof, renovated undercroft and kitchen, a new elevator, and handicapped-accessible restrooms. Christ Church was subsequently awarded the Immy in 1991 by the Kent Chamber of Commerce for excellence in improvement to the facility in the Historical Classification category.
An organ was purchased for $52,000 in 1996.
The Diocese of Ohio was formed in January 1818. Later that year The Rt. Rev Philander Chase was elected bishop and would be consecrated in 1819. He founded Bexley Hall, an Episcopal seminary in 1824 to help solve the clergy shortage in Ohio. In 1818 There were only six priests in Ohio when the diocese began.
There were Episcopalians who settled in the Stow OH area before 1818. They began lay led worship in their homes. Sometimes a seminarian from Bexley Hall at Gambier would travel the 104 miles to preach.
1818-1835 Lay led services with occasional Seminarians who preached or traveling clergy.
1835 The people of Franklin Mills began to organize a parish.
1836 July 7, 1936 Bp Chase visited Christ Church Parish, Franklin Mills, Oh
1836-1857 Lay led worship with occasional Clergy from St. John’s Ohio City, St. John’s Cuyahoga Falls, St. Matthews Hamilton, St. Andrews Elyria, Boston Oh, Peninsula Oh, Granville Oh and Bexley Hall the local Episcopal Seminary.
1857-1867 The Rev. Levi L. Holden would preach in the morning at St. John’s Cuyahoga Falls and in the afternoon at Christ Church Franklin Mills Ohio.
1868-1869 - The Rev. Cheven
1869-1870 - The Rev. Curtis
1871-1873 - The Rev. Davis
1875-1878 - The Rev. Fairchild, The Rev. Ganber
1883-1884 - The Rev. Hammond
1884-1891 - The Rev. Crackraft
1891-1895 – The Rev. James Brown
1895-1906 – The Rev. Kell
1906-1910 – The Rev. Washington
1910 – 1921 --The Rev. William C. Leslie was the First resident rector at Franklin Mills
July-Dec 1921 No Rector – lay led services
1921-1922 The Rev. Harkins, a seminarian who because full time rector after his ordination in 1922
1924-1927 The Rev. H.J. Buxton
1927-1928 The Rev. Zimmerman
1929-1935 The Rev. E.H. McDonald Sept 8th 1929 from Cambridge, MA. Co-rector Grace Ravenna
1935 – 1939 unknown
1939-1944 The Rev. Stephen Kelker
1944-July to Oct 1945 The Rev. John Reinheimer, rector. Moved to St. Thomas (Wisconsin) October 25, 1945
Jan 1946-Feb 1947 The Rev. Kenneth H. Gass. Moved to St. Timothy’s (Massillon) Feb 23, 1947
Aug 1947 The Rev. Stephen M Kelker -- Served as Interim
Sept 1947-1971 The Rev. Forest Bond; Longest serving rector – 24 years
Sept 1971-June 1980 The Rev. Lloyd F. O’Keefe
Sept 1980 The Rev. James Cooney Assisting and Supply 1980 – 2006
Oct 1980-Oct 1991 The Rev. Thomas F. Webster (Was a member of the 1941 paid boys choir.)
Dec 1991-May 1992 The Rev. William E. Lyle
1992 – 1993 Interim & Supply
Jan-Dec 1994 The Rev. Hugh E. Brown
Jun-Aug 1995 The Rev. Alan Belton, Interim
Sept 1995-Jan 2000 The Rev. Robert (Bob) J. Brooks Rector
2000 The Rev D.M. Bowles, Interim
Apr-Sept 2000 The Rev. William Lyle, Interim
January 2001 The Rev. David Mathus SSC, Interim
Jan 2001-Aug 2003 The Rev. Reid H. Hamilton, Rector
Nov 2003-June 2006 The Rev. Gary Mitchener, Interim
Sept 2006-July 2022 The Rev. Julie Blake-Fisher
Sept 2022-present The Rev. Mary L. Staley, Interim (Part-time)
The Rev. Robert J. Brooks
September 1995-January 2000
Christ Episcopal Church Kent Ohio
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