Old Christ Church restoration project highlights local mission work in Vermont

[Diocese of Vermont] When asked to describe the Old Christ Church in Bethel, Vermont, two parishioners recently wrote, “just pulling in the driveway you get the sense that this is no ordinary building.” Built in 1823, the historic structure lacks electricity, heat and plumbing, which certainly contributes to its uniqueness. But there is something more, an indescribable energy that attracts people to the maple-lined drive off Route 12 for worship and respite.

Now the building that has been a source of spiritual restoration for so many is being prepped for a restoration of its own.

Planning is underway for a series of projects aimed at securing the foundation and repairing the steps, windows and clapboards. The members of neighboring Christ Episcopal Church, stewards of Old Christ Church, look forward to implementing the updates so that the historic building can continue to accommodate seasonal worship, weddings, funerals, special services, concerts, book discussions and community events.

The restoration, however, comes at a steep cost for the small congregation, which has embraced a model of ministry that relies on volunteer clergy, musicians and lay preachers and has no paid personnel. To date, Christ Episcopal Church has set aside $28,000 and won a $7,000 grant from the State of Vermont Division of Historic Preservation. Additionally, the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont has approved a $21,000 diocesan loan. While this only begins to cover the estimated expense of $56,000 to $109,000, church members remain hopeful that a combination of fundraising and competitive bids will enable them to bring their plans to fruition.

“At Christ Church Bethel, we continue to grow in faith and in our impact on the wider community,” said Nancy Wuttke, senior warden. And she gives numerous examples to back her claim.

“Our liturgical minister was recently ordained as transitional deacon. … Our Local Ministry Support Team has also received five new members, two of whom are…

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