Christ Church Looks Back: The 1963-1964 Search for a New Rector and a New Rectory (continued)
By Joseph Tomberlin
Posted July 31, 2014
The first part of this series of articles is available here.Closely related to the story of Christ Church’s 1963-1964 search for a new Rector is an account of the Vestry’s acquisition of a relatively new house at 2200 Glynndale Drive to replace the 1910 structure at 115 West North Street as the Rectory. As related in the previous article, the closing on 2200 Glynndale occurred at some point between December 19, 1963, and January 6, 1964. Senior Warden Bill Eager, Jr. “explained the recent purchase of a new Rectory to the incoming Vestrymen” at the first Vestry meeting of the new year on January 6, 1964. In addition, Vestry secretary John Oliver received authorization to list the old Rectory for sale “with one or two real estate dealers . . . for a period of sixty days.”
The day following the January 1964 Vestry session, Mr. Eager received by telephone an offer from two communicants, Miss E. Camm Campbell and Miss Mildred Price, of financial aid to Christ Church toward paying off the mortgage on the new Rectory. Miss Campbell and Miss Price would give $500.00 each to be applied “toward reduction of . . . [the] indebtedness on . . . 2200 Glynndale Drive. . . .” Each of them also pledged to make one month’s mortgage payment per year for five years. Specifically, Miss Campbell would pay $163.37 each May beginning May 1, 1964, and ending May 1, 1968, and Miss Price would pay $163.37 each June beginning June 1, 1964, and ending June 1, 1968.
Mr. Eager acknowledged their proposed gifts and reiterated the particulars of those gifts in a letter of the same date, January 7, 1964. He thanked them on behalf of Christ Church for what he described as their “most needed contributions,” and expressed his hope that “your action may provide an example for others to follow.” The Vestry records, however, do not contain any evidence that other parishioners aspired to emulate Miss Campbell and Miss Price.
In the second Vestry meeting of the month, on January 26, 1964, Bill Eager read to the group a letter from Mr. William Lester, of the Valdosta Federal Savings and Loan Association, which confirmed that Miss Campbell and Miss Price already had paid their promised $1,000.00 “on the capital indebtedness of the purchase price of the new Rectory . . . at 2200 Glynndale Drive. . . .” Mr. Lester also verified that each had pledged to make one monthly mortgage payment a year “for a period of five years.” A further matter related to the Rectory was a report from John Oliver that the estimated cost of painting the house “inside and out” was $400.00, a figure that included “cleaning and varnishing the floors where necessary.” Tot Amon “moved we do the necessary work,” and with second by George Twiggs, the motion gained Vestry’s consent.
Vestry heard, as well, a review from the Senior Warden “of the latest developments concerning the calling of a new Rector.” He stated that the Search Committee [Blake Ellis, Jack Fitzsimons, Marge Fitzsimons, Joe Taylor, George Twiggs] had unanimously recommended the calling of the Rev. Thomas Fitzgerald, of the Church of the Redeemer, Sarasota, Florida, to be Christ Church’s new Rector. The Vestry then debated the proposed calling of Fr. Fitzgerald, apparently at considerable length, before Mr. Eager “asked for a motion” on the question. The motion from George Twiggs, seconded by Jack Fitzsimons, produced six votes in favor and one vote against; and two vestrymen abstained. Consequently, the motion carried. However, during the Vestry’s session on February 19, 1964, Senior Warden Eager read a letter from Fr. Fitzgerald “announcing with regret that he was unable to accept our call as Rector of Christ Church. . . .” Mr. Eager added that “other prospective Rectors were under consideration by the [Search] Committee. . . .” Fr. Fitzgerald, incidentally, had various Georgia connections. He was a native of Augusta and, after graduating from The Citadel in Charleston, earned a master’s degree in organic chemistry from the University of Georgia. He was the assistant to the Rev. Paul Reeves, later Bishop of Georgia, when Reeves was Rector of the Church of the Redeemer from 1959 to 1965. Then, after succeeding Reeves as Rector of the Church of the Redeemer and serving there from 1965 to 1978, he finally came to the Diocese of Georgia in 1978, with Reeves as his Bishop, to be Rector of Christ Church, Frederica, on Saint Simons Island. Continue reading