CHURCH that THE NATIVITY Episcopal, Huntsville, Ala

(A reprint indigenous the program issued by the Church on its Centennial Anniversary, 1843-1943.)


The very first officially recorded item i beg your pardon indicated any type of interest in one Episcopal Church in Huntsville is found. In the journal of the Convention that the Diocese that Alabama, organized in Tuscaloosa top top January 3, 1831. The items reads together follows: “William Acklin and also James Penn, Esqs., the Huntsville appeared and also produced satisfactory credentials of their appointment come this Convention as lay delegates. Castle took their seats accordingly.”

Not a recognized mission station

One year later on at the Diocesan Convention, held likewise in Tuscaloosa, these same gentlemen appeared and also submitted a interaction from the “Vestry and Wardens that the protestant Episcopal Church in ~ Huntsville” stating the fact that “the present is the most Auspicious time because that the beginning of a church in ours town” and “that each day of delay detracts from the number of citizens who might end up being members of our congregation.”

The interaction was signed by B. S. Pope, Sam Brech, R. Lee Fearn, W. Clarke and also John Brahan. These records show that a team of Huntsville citizens taken into consideration themselves to it is in an Episcopal congregation. However one wonders about the credentials of these gentlemen as official delegates.

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Huntsville was not at the time one officially known mission station. There was no church building. As far as can be ascertained, there were no services conducted by a clergyman. Although there to be an interested group in Huntsville, and some members of that team were called the Vestry and also Wardens of the Church, the congregation had no official status in the Diocese and no legal organization.

The first serious effort

However, 2 years later, Huntsyille was made things of missionary endeavor by the board of residential Missions of the national Church. The Rev. Man Murray Robertson, a priest from the Diocese of north Carolina, was sent to Huntsville, on march 7, 1834, to begin missionary work-related in this territory.

Trouble through the law and the stage

The Rev. Mr. Robertson and also the congregation had a hard time recognize a location to worship. Because that a brief time the solutions were held in the Court House, but legal authorities objected come the usage of the Court residence for spiritual purposes. Next, a theatre on eastern Clinton Street was borrowed. However the congregation to be dispossessed by a company of actors. Finally, the Masonic Lodge Room to be procured, and also services were continued in that building until the finish of the year 1835. That was throughout the Lodge Room duration that the very first bishop made a visitation in Huntsville. The Rt. Rev. James H. Otey do the pilgrimage from the surrounding Diocese of Tennessee and also confirmed miss Henrietta Brown; who was a teacher in the Huntsville Seminary.

Discouraging Times

Mr. Robertson had actually a many disheartening endure with his congregation. It is videotaped that “the missionary experienced tiny sympathy; and finding the nothing to be done towards erecting a church or offering for a minister, the retired at the close of 1835 to his plantation in Jackson County.”

For seven years no further effort was made come organize a parish. One wonders what came to be of those gentlemen who had expressed themselves together so keenly interested in the establishment of a church. The is not tape-recorded that any kind of delegates attended the Diocesan Conventions throughout those years. Episcopal Church life in Huntsville went to sleep.

Another Start

Finally, 2 clergymen went to Huntsville in December 1842, and also through your efforts, a conference of the Episcopalians to be held and an company of a parish effected top top December 17th. Mr. George P. Beirne presided at the meeting, and, in enhancement to himself, over there were elected on the Vestry the adhering to men: Henry M. Robertson, john Ogden, James Penn, and J. Withers Clay. The Parish was named the “Church the the Nativity” since of the draw close Christmas season.

Beginning of official life

A Church is not an Episcopal Church till it is received into a Diocese under the authority of the Bishop. Therefore the official life of the Parish started when a delegation from the newly chosen Vestry to visit the Diocesan Convention in might 1843, and also asked that the Church that the Nativity in Huntsville it is in received into the Diocese. Of course, the inquiry was acceded to, and shortly after that the Vestry chosen as the an initial Rector of the Church, the Rev. F. H. Laird, who arrived to take up his duties in November. The Parish was not self-supporting at this time. The plank of residential Missions of the nationwide Church helped with the maintain of Mr. Laird. This Rector likewise found challenge in the issue of securing a ar for worship. The Presbyterians lent your church structure for the first services.

Then the congregation venerated for a if in the schoolroom the Mrs. Mrs L. Childs. And also then, the Church seeming to it is in on some much better terms through the Law, the U. S. District Court Room in the basement the the Court house was secured as a location to worship. Throughout Mr. Laird’s rectorship in 1845, the lot at the edge of Eustis and Green roads was bought from john Y. Bassett for $500.00 and the construction of a church building was begun. However Mr. Laird resigned in 1846. That never conducted a service in the new church for which that planned.

New Rector – job of Progress

In 1847 the Rev. Henry C. Lay, of the Diocese that Virginia, was elected Rector. After a few more months of services in the Court House, the church structure being completed, the congregation very first worshipped over there in respectable of 1847. Within the exact same month, the Vestry asserted the Church to it is in self-supporting and also thereafter no missionary funds were provided for the support of a minister in Huntsville. The Rev. Mr. Lay offered as Rector because that twelve years. Those twelve year prove us to have been the duration of greatest progress the the Church the the Nativity ever before experienced in so short a time. It is stated in the records that at the moment Mr. Lay came to Huntsville as the Rector, there were but twelve communicants in reality resident or available, and also of the twelve there was just one masculine member. No doubt there to be a number of interested members the the congregation who had actually not been confirmed and also were not noted officially together communicants. At the time, apparently, it was not forced that a vestryman be a communicant the the Church.

Missionary Activity

During Mr. Lay’s rectorship, the Church, realizing the for plenty of years it had actually been an object of the missionary interest of others, set out to repay the debt in some measure by engaging ~ above missionary activities. In 1851 the congregation started to furnish fifty percent the assistance of the Rev. T. A. Morris who was a missionary in this ar of the Tennessee Valley. Mr. Lay came to Huntsville as a deacon, and also he left twelve years later on as a .bishop, having actually been chosen Missionary Bishop of the Southwest by the basic Convention the the Church held at Richmond in 1859. During Mr. Lay’s rectorship, the membership grew so quick that the was important to plan for a new building.

When Bishop lay severed his link with this Parish in 1859 the left the present church building as an motivating memorial come his labors. The Church to buy a Rectory on environment-friendly Street, the contrary the existing church building, during that time. A Parish college was established. All debts to be paid through the exception of $2,606, which was still owed on the new church structure. As is so frequently the fate the ministers, he was no privileged lengthy to enjoy the fruit of his labors. The first service was performed in the present building on Easter, 1859. It to be the adhering to November the Bishop Lay moved away to carry out his brand-new jurisdiction,—”the Southwest.” He wrote humbly of himself; “The Rector has actually ministered on regular basis to this people, with much less success 보다 he might desire, through infinitely more than he has actually deserved.”

The Church Building

 It is a issue of amazement to plenty of of us that a building of such size and good beauty might have been constructed by the members so shortly after the establishing of the Parish. The document is fairly clear as to how it to be done. The money was elevated by subscription among the members. Sixty-three members made cash contribute amounting come $29,291,93. The separation, personal, instance amounts listed range native $4,000 come $10.00. Trinity Church, Wilmington, Delaware, sent out a donation of $25.00. Other money was obtained from the revenue of some property. The full cost the the church building and furnishings price to $37,565.13. Every cent that this was paid through the exemption of $2,606.00 by 1861. It appears that the balance the $2,606 was the chief object of conversation at the Vestry meetings for plenty of years thereafter, A glance roughly the church in ~ the names inscribed ~ above the home windows tells of many families significant in the congregation in those early days.

The Patriarch

It remained in July 1860, that the Rev. Man Munro Banister, the Greensboro, Alabama, was dubbed to it is in the Rector. That is construed that when Mr. Banister concerned Huntsville native Greensboro, the Rev. Richard Hooker Cobbs, who had been Mr. Lay’s assistant, and who to be in temporary charge that the Parish, moved to Greensboro to it is in the Rector there. Dr. Banister is thought of by the members that the Parish together the Patriarch. He was rector for forty-six years, and rector-emeritus for almost two years. All through the trying job of the War between the States, he administered the work of the Parish. Plenty of lived and died and also knew no various other minister yet Dr. Banister.

During the War, in Dr. Banister’s time, the is associated that when Huntsville was lived in by Union soldiers, a non-commissioned officer of the Union pressures was instructed to seize the church and use it because that a stable. Once the force arrived to take it possession that was lugged to an abrupt halt prior to the door. Above the door were inscribed on the marble slab the words: “Reverence my Sanctuary.” once that engraving was report to the commanding officer, that ordered the the church be not molested. Because that a period in 1864, the church was closed by order of the commanding general, and also the Rector was ordered to overcome the river and remain within the Confederate lines.

During Dr. Banister’s rectorship, we keep in mind some exciting changes. One more Rectory to be purchased on Adams Avenue and the old one sold. At the time of the structure of the brand-new church the resource of every the earnings for the support of the Parish to be the renting that the pews. Top top the Monday ~ Easter annually the members would bid because that the pews. No offerings to be taken during the services until 1864 when the Rector was requested by the Vestry come announce the an providing would be tackled every Sunday. That mechanism lasting till 1903. It was at that time the Vestry considered it way to abolish pew rents as a an approach of Church support, and also instead, come raise the spending plan by annual subscription. The initial church structure was sold to the fancy Methodist Church in 1878 because that $ 700.00. The structure was razed at the time and also the products used to build the fancy Methodist Church structure which tho stands on phibìc Jefferson Street.

In 1886 the existing chapel was completed—a gift native Mrs. Wilson Gary Bibb together a memorial to her husband, Wilson Gary Bibb. At the time of Dr. Banister’s resignation in 1905, he came to be Rector-Emeritus. V his fatality in 1907, a long and dearly remembered thing in the life that the Parish was carried to a close.

Two brief Term Rectors

The following Rector to be the Rev. Willoughby N. Claybrook. Mr. Claybrook concerned Huntsville from Tyler, Texas, to it is in the assistant to Dr. Banister in 1904. As soon as Dr. Banister resigned “because of ongoing age infirmities” in 1905, Mr. Claybrook was chosen Rector in his place. Mr. Claybrook was a young male of great energy and initiative, however he did no remain lengthy as Rector. The resigned in 1907 to i think the duties the missionary in the Diocese. Doing well Mr. Claybrook as Rector there concerned Huntsville the Rev. Alexander C. McCabe, Ph. D., that assumed his duties in July 1907. Dr. McCabe resigned in 1909.

Mr. Gamble

After Dr. McCabe’s resignation the Vestry referred to as the Rev. Gary gamble from the Diocese that Virginia to it is in the Rector of the Parish. Mr. Gambling took up his residence in Huntsville top top July 1, 1909. One point that attractive Mr. Gamble to Alabama was the fact that his twin brother was at the time Rector the St. Paul’s Church, Selma. Both clergymen continued their faithful ministries in Huntsville and also Selma, respectively, until the time of their retirement from the energetic ministry. Throughout Mr. Gamble’s rectorship, a rectory on Franklin Street to be purchased. During this duration it to be increasingly evident that there was not sufficient an are on the church properties because that the Sunday School and also other activities of the Parish. And also so, in 1912, the store structure which adjoined the church many on Eustis Street to be bought and also converted into a Parish House.

Mr. Gambling retired in 1938, and, due to the fact that that time, he has been of an excellent service in the Diocese doing supply work wherever he to be needed. Mr. Gamble is the just living previous Rector that the Church the the Nativity. That is with a great deal of satisfied that us welcome here today this faithful and also fearless maid of God that was the spirituality leader of the Parish for an ext than a quarter of the Century the its existence.

The Present

The Rev. Randolph R. Claiborne, of Macon, Georgia, was next referred to as to be the Rector. Mr. Claiborne began his set in Huntsville top top September 1, 1938. Throughout his rectorship, a brand-new rectory has actually been constructed on McClung Street, top top a beautiful lot of which has housed the Rectors that the Parish in the critical one hundreds years. The is viewed from this brief sketch the there room a an excellent many points in the background of the previous One century of i beg your pardon the Church the the Nativity might be justly proud.

The Church has actually taken its place as a spiritual pressure in the community. It has actually assumed its obligations in the to work of the Diocese. That is generously supporting the missionary occupational of the Church in ~ home and abroad. There are right now on the main communicant perform 325 names. Several of our members no much longer live in Huntsville, yet for reasons of strong sentiment wish to save their name on the it is registered as communicants. Some of them space attending schools and colleges. Plenty of of them are serving in the equipped forces that the Nation. Over there are plenty of factors that make us feel the the future holds good progress in store for the Church that the Nativity.

The Future

With humble hearts, let us all deal with that throughout the next One hundred years our chief aim will certainly be the unselfish offer of our Heavenly dad in grateful thanksgiving that He has blessed us with so fine a heritage. At the moment of the Nativity of our Lord 2 thousand years ago, God revealed himself in person form. Life true to the name of ours Church our objective rightfully will certainly be the revealing the God’s goodness, God’s mercy and God’s love in the day-to-day life we live. Insofar as we space true to the purpose, then, we, too, will be tools of God’s blessing. In our very own Parish life and fellowship, we will discover a foretaste that His Kingdom.

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