Christ Church Looks Back: Maintenance of Church Facilities, Continued

Christ Church Looks Back: Maintenance of Church Facilities, Continued
By Joseph Tomberlin
Posted November 10, 2013

Joseph Tomberlin

The most recent article in the historical series, “Christ Church Looks Back,” was posted in The Vineyard, on June 28, 2013. The article noted that, in the Vestry meeting of March 14, 1962, Blake Ellis made a motion, seconded by Lewis Kafoure, that related to “certain improvements and/or maintenance which . . . [are] proposed for the Church.” Specifically, Mr. Ellis recommended that “the present altar and . . . [reredoes] be replaced by a new altar and cathedral glass window behind the new altar with other alterations as required[,]for an expenditure of approximately [$] 3,000.00.” Mr. Ellis also pointed out, “This is the first step in a master plan which will eventually move the choir and organ to the rear of the church above the narthex, resurface the existing block walls, [and] install a new finished ceiling. The project will be financed in a way to be determined by the Vestry[,]the finance committee[,] and a building committee of Mr. Kafoure & Mr. Ellis.”

The most immediate overt response to the Ellis-Kafoure motion came in a called Vestry meeting two weeks later, on March 28, 1962. Tot Amon, seconded by George Twiggs, moved that the actions taken in the regular Vestry session be withdrawn. Although the Minutes of March 28, 1962, do not provide specific details, the Amon-Twiggs motion apparently won approval, for a second proposal followed. Harrison Tillman, with second by Jack Fitzsimons, presented a motion that Christ Church’s Vestry “enter into a contract with Mr. Blake Ellis to prepare a prospective plan of all proposed improvements to the Church.” Once the prospectus was ready, it would be “presented to the congregation . . . [to solicit] gifts, pledges, memorials, etc. as the finance committee deems . . . [necessary].” Only when “the amount of moneys raised and/or pledged” had been determined would the Vestry “authorize the amount of work to be done. . . .”

Not until the Vestry met on May 2, 1962, did the issue of remodeling the church emerge again but then only after a distracting report about needs elsewhere. As the Minutes relate, “The Rector [Fr. Michael J. Kippenbrock] called to the Vestry’s attention that the Rectory was in dire need for [the] present range and refrigerator to be replaced with more satisfactory equipment.” Fr. Kippenbrock’s report on the shortcomings of the Rectory seems to have aroused no Vestry interest whatever, perhaps because the house at 115 West North Street had long been a source of trouble. The significant development on May 2, 1962, was that Jamie Carroll offered a motion that George Twiggs seconded and Vestry approved requiring Mr. Ellis to “secure estimates relating to cost of work of remodeling the Church in accordance with his plans.”

In the session on June 13, 1962, Blake Ellis reported to Vestry that he had “an estimate in the amount of $11,390 for proposed work in connection with planned renovation of the Church.” In view of Mr. Ellis’s statement of projected costs, Tot Amon moved, with a LeRoy Hankinson second, that “Vestry accept the . . . preliminary plans which were done by Mr. Ellis and . . . ask Mr. Ellis to render his bill for services to date and Treasurer remit to Mr. Ellis for charges to date.” The Amon motion also required that the plans for church improvements “be turned over to [the] Building Fund Committee for procurement of the $12,000 needed for construction.” At the next meeting on July 12, 1962, Fr. Kippenbrock informed Vestry that “advance gifts and pledges to proposed Church renovation now amounts [sic] to $5,750.”

In light of the developments related to church improvements and renovations that had already occurred, as detailed above, the actions taken by Vestry on August 15, 1962, seem to have been, at the least, incongruous. The following passage from the Minutes of the meeting of August 15, 1962, is quoted directly: “The motion was made by [Lewis] Kafoure and seconded by [James D.] Carroll, to establish a building and planning committee whose purpose will be to investigate and make recommendations to the Vestry for renovation of the Church.” The motion, which Vestry approved, if seen in isolation from previous events, might create the impression that making renovations within the church was a completely new idea. In any case, the members of the “building and planning committee” were designated and included Jamie Carroll, Tot Amon, George Twiggs, Blake Ellis, William M. Gabard, Lewis Kafoure, William G. Eager, Jr., a Mr. Dykes, Mardi Barnes, and Dr. Marjorie Carter. Jamie Carroll was to chair the committee, and Lewis Kafoure was the vice-chairman. Then, if anything, the story became even “curiouser” in the Vestry meeting of September 5, 1962, when, on a Kafoure-Fitzsimons motion, Vestry voted to rescind “the motion of 8-15-62 relating to the building & planning committee. . . .” Moreover, Vestry called for a congregational meeting on October 3, 1962, “for the purpose of reaching a definite decision as regard[s] the proposed changes and remodeling of the Church.”

The scheduled congregational meeting convened at eight o’clock on Wednesday evening, October 3, 1962, in the Church. With approximately forty-five members present, Fr. Kippenbrock opened the assembly with a prayer. The reason for the gathering was “a general discussion of the proposed plans for the renovation of the interior of Christ Church.” Blake Ellis, a communicant and a vestryman, who also was the architect, launched the discussion “by giving a general ideas [of] what was to be done in the renovation as far as the plans were concerned.” Further, he provided information about the trend toward “simplicity of design in many of the churches of today.” In response, William M. Gabard “stated his views and asked why the renovation was needed.” Mardi Barnes made some of the same points as Mr. Gabard, and Arthur Goodin expressed his opinion that “the Church was all right and should be left as it is.” On the other side, Jean Holland spoke of “the simplicity and beauty of the Chapel at Camp Reese [now Honey Creek] that was designed by Mr. Ellis.” Joe Taylor and his wife both voiced their support for Mr. Ellis’s design as did James Perryman. The views summarized to this point merely marked the beginning to a “lengthy discussion pro and con for the renovation by various members.” Finally, Aspasia Panos moved that “a general renovation of the interior of the church be made by using the plans drawn by Mr. Ellis.” James Perryman seconded, and a vote followed, in which seventeen members were for the motion, and nineteen against. Afterward, William G. Eager, Jr. moved that specific improvements “be made to the interior of the Church, to include fixing and painting of the walls, new lighting, changes necessary to accomodate [sic ] a new altar, cathedral glass behind the altar[,] and minor repairs.” William M. Gabard seconded the motion, which then was approved, and the meeting adjourned.

Look for this story to continue in The Vineyard.