History of Christ Church
Christ Church was the oldest church in Joliet until its closing on January 11, 2004. On May 15, 1835 at a meeting held in the home of Dr. A.W. Bowen with eight people in attendance, Bishop Chase celebrated the Holy Eucharist and Articles of Association were drafted. The Bishop formally named the new missionary station “The Wardens and Vestrymen of Christ Church, Joliet in the diocese of Illinois.” It was the sixth Episcopal parish in the state. Dr. Bowen provided two lots for the eventual construction of a church edifice.
Over the next fifty years, two church buildings were constructed at the corner of Van Buren and Joliet St. The first, a wooden structure constructed in 1855 under the leadership of Dr. James Locke, rector, was razed in the mid 1880’s for the construction of the present Joliet limestone church building and rectory. The new structures were consecrated by Bishop McLaren while Rev. J.H. White was rector. The facilities were expanded in 1926 with the addition of the St. Margaret’s Chapel and Sexton’s quarters.
In 1935, Christ Church celebrated its Centennial. Included in the activities was the publication of a booklet commemorating the first one hundred years, They Have Builded Him An Altar, which lists the rectors’ names for the first one hundred years as “Officiating Clergymen
In 1955 several men of the parish initiated a drive to renovate the parish hall and funded it through Sunday morning pancake breakfasts which they prepared and served themselves. Their efforts resulted in a modernized kitchen and a deeper sense of connection among the leadership of the parish.
The foresight of some of these men extended to financial planning. A fund was started to provide interest income to supplement the operating budget. For a parish that had faced bankruptcy more than once, it was a relief to have an endowment that eventually exceeded a half of a million dollars.
As had been the case in many of the traditional denominations, church attendance began to decline to the point where continued ministry was compromised.
In late 2002, representatives of the diocese brought the Christ Church Vestry and St. Edward’s vestry into conversation. After a year of collaborative ministry, the two parishes merged. The last services were celebrated at Christ Church on January 11, 2004.