Although the total number of Episcopalians living in Stanly County has never approached that of some other denominations, Christ Church has a remarkable history, much of which can be traced to the determination of one woman to see that the Episcopal Church had a presence and influence for her family and friends. Although the diocese of North Carolina was formed in 1817, the first services were held in Stanly County in 1886, when Miss Frances Hearne, who arrived in Albemarle during the Civil War, arranged for a visit from an Episcopal clergyman from Charlotte to baptize her daughter. Episcopalians met in homes or in the Legion Hut, with services led by lay persons or by visiting clergy from Salisbury or Charlotte. In 1924 the unorganized mission held three evening services per month, presided over by a priest from Lexington, and one morning service with Holy Eucharist performed by a priest from Charlotte. In 1935, the Rev. John F. Haymaker, rector of Calvary Church in Wadesboro, became priest-in-charge of the Albemarle mission, which soon took the name Christ Church. The cornerstone of the present church building was laid in 1940. In 1963, under Rev. James Walker, Christ Church achieved parish status.
Christ Church’s longest-serving rector, Rev. Phil Byrum, arrived in 1969. His 22-year tenure was a period of growth for Christ Church, marked by service to the community in such areas as a daycare center and madrigal dinners. Our present rector Rev. James Bernacki began his service in 2003.
Because Christ Church is the only Episcopal Church in the county, its members come from a wide geographic area resulting in a rich diversity that is appreciated and serves as a resource for growth and outreach.
Over the years, a number of programs that have been instituted by Christ Church have grown beyond the bounds of the parish and are now supported and administered by the community at large. A program that literally began in a food pantry at Christ Church grew to become Stanly County Christian Ministries, and our Community Christmas Dinner began in our parish hall.
Christ Church, 100 Years by Juanita Kruse