Standing in testament to an indomitable community of faith is the new Christ Episcopal Church located at 912 S. Beach Blvd. - the fourth church constructed by the Bay St. Louis congregation and the third built on this site. Already a beloved city landmark, the church building was recognized with the 2010 Historic Commission Mayor's Award.
Established in 1889, during the construction of the first church building (on the corner of North Beach Blvd. and Boardman Avenue), Christ Church services were held in the Crowell house nearby. In 1904 the church building was moved to the corner of North Beach Blvd. and Carroll Avenue, where 98 years ago it was consecrated on July 8, 1913.
In 1951 the Church purchased the seven-and-a-half acre property it occupies today and constructed a church/school complex which was partially destroyed by Hurricane Camille in August 1969. For the next twenty months during construction of the new Christ Church - dedicated on April 18, 1971 - services were held in the day school buildings that had survived unharmed.
Then in August 2005, the church buildings were claimed by the capricious Hurricane Katrina, which left only the tattered remains of the bell tower standing.
What to do now was a thought that lingered only briefly in the minds of the determined congregation. The “Revisioning and Reconstruction” committee was formed, led by Corky Hadden and Scott Bagley. Other members were Susan Stevens, Vernon Bourdette, Diane Lind, Sandra Bagley and Malin Chamberlain.
The input of all church members was sought to determine whether to rebuild for a third time on the current site or perhaps find a safer site with higher visibility closer to Old Town. Almost unanimously the congregation, voted to remain and to construct the new Church in a more “coastal” style. To address visibility concerns, the site of the new building was moved closer to the beach.
After visiting many churches in the area, the rebuilding committee decided that the coastal feeling they were seeking was best expressed by the “Carpenter Gothic” style and the committee selected Walcott Adams Verneville Architects, PLLC of Fairhope, AL to carry out their vision.
The building was consecrated by the Bishop of Mississippi, Duncan Gray, in May 2010. Then on July 31st, 2010, Senior Warden Scott Bagley walked his daughter Drew down the aisle during the first wedding held in the new building.
“The first wedding in the church was not only a historic moment, but a very happy moment as two hearts became one,” said a smiling Sandra Bagley.
It has been said that architecture reflects the ideals and principles of the culture from which it emerged. One could say without exaggeration that the new Christ Episcopal Church perfectly expresses its vision that: “as seekers of Christ, we desire to live in a serene, simple manner where we can be ourselves in the presence of God.”
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