Christ Episcopal Church of Dearborn has served the community of Dearborn since the 1860's. At that time Dearborn was primarily a farming community. In the Detroit Arsenal at Michigan Avenue and Monroe the first regular services were held in the carpenter shop and Sunday School was held in the basement of the Commandant's Quarters. In the early 1860's the first services were held by The Reverend Rufus Murray. In 1865 The Reverend Chaucey W. Fitch, the chaplain at Fort Wayne, Detroit agreed to be the minister.
Under Dr. Fitch's leadership, the parish was organized and Articles of Agreement were signed on December 29, 1866. Christ Church was accepted as a parish by the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan on June 7, 1867. Members of the first Vestry included prominent farmers, including Henry Ford (older cousin of Ford Motor Company founder Henry Ford), two storekeepers, a doctor and the Commandant of the Arsenal.
In November 1870 the cornerstone for a new church was set on its Michigan Avenue location. A beautiful English Gothic style church made of red brick was consecrated in 1874. This Church served the congregation until 1949.
The Church struggled for years after the new Church was built. In 1872 the Arsenal closed taking as many as fifty men and two officers from the community and in 1874 Dr. Fitch retired. The Reverend Henry Brown took over in 1876 but the parish found itself unable to pay his $300.00 annual salary in 1886. Following brief stays by The Reverend T.J. Reid and The Reverend C.A. Cary, supply preachers and lay readers kept the church open until 1893 when regular services resumed with the help of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew of St. Peter's Church, Detroit.
In 1896 the parish could once again support a rector. Under The Reverend Edward Collins the parish grew and a parish house was built. In the early 1900's however, under Reverend Collins and two successor ministers, the village of Dearborn remained small. In fact, in 1912 the congregation considered converting from an independent parish to a mission.
Development of the Dearborn area resulted in dramatic growth of Christ Church and its congregation during the pastorates of The Reverends Frederick Hewitt (1916-1918), Philip L. Schenk (1919-1925) and Hedley C. Stacey (1925-1951). A fine organ was added, the church building was improved and a Rectory was built. As Dearborn became one of the largest cities in the state, the 1870 building on Michigan Avenue could no longer accommodate the congregation.
On May 3, 1948 Mrs. Henry Ford broke ground at the site of the new church building at Cherry Hill and Military. The site had been donated by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Ford (Ford Motor Company founder). The first services were held in the new building on April 10, 1949.
The Reverend Dr. Edward R.A. Green succeeded Reverend Stacey and was the Christ Church minister from 1951 to 1970. In that period two missions were founded, St. Andrew's, Livonia and St. David's, Garden City. A parish house, Stacey Hall, was completed in 1955, an addition, including a Chapel, was dedicated in 1961 and a new organ was dedicated on Palm Sunday, 1962.
The Parish Centennial was celebrated in 1967. In connection with that historic event, a comprehensive history of the Church was written. "A Christian Heritage - The Centennial History of Christ Episcopal Church of Dearborn Diocese of Michigan" is a wonderful, lively and informative history of the Church. The history, which is filled with photographs and factual detail, was prepared by Katherine Moore Cushman, a skilled historian and writer. This 107 page hard cover book is available for review in the Murray Stover Library at the Church.
The Reverend Carl S. Shannon, who succeeded Dr. Green in 1970 was followed by The Reverend Ward Clabuesch, who was the minister from 1976 to 1992. That period saw development of the educational programs and mission outreach of the parish, further evolution of a team approach to pastoral ministry within the parish and the development of a well rounded ministry of music and of the family service concept. In 1984 the organ was refurbished and the office modernized (including the purchase of computer equipment) and in the early 1990's improvements were made to the Church building including refurbishing the undercroft, improvements to the sound and electrical systems and making the church accessible (elevator and ramp). The Memorial garden was created and dedicated on May 31, 1992.
The Reverend Daniel Appleyard was called to Christ Church in 1993 and served until August of 2009. Dan was instrumental in organizing the Dearborn interfaith community response to the destruction of the twin towers in New York City and plane crashes of September 11, 2001. His goal was to reach out to all members of faith, in particular to our Muslim sisters and brothers, and forge relationships of support and understanding instead of ignorance and hatred. This effort, in collaboration with Lucinda Mosher, then working for Episcopal Relief and Development, Eide Alawan of the Islamic Center of America (Dearborn), and Claude Jacobs of the University of Michigan, Dearborn, launched the Worldview's Seminar. This seminar is offered to university students and community members at large each June and is an intensive course on world religions. It's purpose is to build bridges across the many faiths that live side by side in SE Michigan and foster deeper understanding of one another in order to live in relationships of hospitality.
The Reverend Robert L. Hart, served as Interim Rector from the fall of 2009 through April of 2001.Under his steady hand the parish did the intentional work of discernment in preparation for calling a new rector.
The Rev. Terri C. Pilarski was called as Rector and began her ministry in May of 2011. She brings her gifts for ministry in pastoral care and spirituality tending to the people of Christ Church, to those who are curious about the Christian faith and this community, as well our interfaith community of Dearborn.
As we look forward to the opportunities to spread God's love in the new century, the rich heritage and the many gifts of time, treasure and talent from the laity and clergy of Christ Church throughout its history strengthen us.