"Let Us Keep the Feast": The History of Christ Episcopal Church, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 1828-1998

Article excerpt

HENRY WALKER, "Let Us Keep the Feast": The History of Christ Episcopal Church, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 1828-1998. Tallahassee, Florida: Sentry Press, 2000. Pp. xvi + 320, illustrations, appendices, index. No price.

We should never forget that our nation was built through the settling of frontiers. When the pre-revolutionary Anglican Church was but an eastern coast reality, the frontiers were "out there" to the north, south, and west. Following independence, the gifts of "space and opportunity," significantly cotton, called many from both New England and the Middle and Southern states, into Alabama.

The Rev. Robert Davis, an agent of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society in New York City, arrived in Tuscaloosa, the new state capital, in early 1828 and met with prominent laymen to establish the congregation to be named Christ Church. For the most part, these were professional and merchant types, some of whom were helpful m the move to statehood.

As with most frontier congregations, whether in the Middle or Far West, the early decades for Christ Church were a continual struggle to get clerical leadership and to keep it. The building and maintenance of properties were fitful concerns since very often the costs far exceeded the income. And the mission of community building, for both the church and the social climate of the capital and the new state, was even more challenging.

Mission, ministry, and maintenante bring the rhythm and resonance to this comprehensive history of a great congregation which, for the most part, has been involved in both secular and faith affairs in local, regional, and national church doings, sometimes as innovator, and at times as dissenter.

For the most part, Walker has been dependent on parish records, i.e., vestry minutes, newspaper reports, and some correspondence between bishops, clergy, and lay leaders. When it has been possible, he has interviewed the recent church leaders and incorporated their insights into the history.

We know of no parish history which uses pictures and building plans more comprehensively than "Let Us Keep the Feast," including a section of color photos of the church's stained glass windows with an explanation of their symbols-good educational material indeed.

Schools were to be built, including the University of Alabama, and through the years the parish has had a major ministry in that academic community. It has sponsored such chaplains as George Murray, later bishop of Alabama and eventually the Central Gulf Coast, and Dr. …