162 5. Main St.

Location *E* on Church Map of Oberlin

(Oberlin Historical and Improvement Organization)


First Church was the only house of worship and the only organized congregation in Oberlin for twenty-five years. But there were enough Episcopalians living in the town in 1852 to warrant services held in Oberlin homes conducted by the Rector of St. Andrew's, Elyria. The Rev. Francis Granger, Rector from 1855 to 1858, helped organize the formal Association of the Friends of the Episcopal Church in Oberlin and raised money for the building, which was consecrated May 11,1859. The church was designed in Roman Normanesque style with a Sarum altar (vestibule and chancel were added later) by Frank Wills, a New York architect. This building - as First Church is - is a surviving institutional structure from the pre-Civil War era. The parish of Christ Church thrived and became well established under a series of Rectors. It was in 1918 that the Rev. Louis Daniels brought with him musical skills and enthusiasm that established for the parish a reputation for services outstanding in music and liturgy. The boys' choirs which he recruited and trained added much to the services. Among Fr. Daniels' many publications are two books on church music and a hymnal. A series of Rectors continued to add to the established musical and liturgical traditions introducing drama, and encouraging art student Margaret Kennedy to design and create from a workshop in the basement of the church the rose window and stained glass windows. The Courage window in honor of his father was designed and executed by Kenyon Cox, using a layered technique developed by John LaFarge of New York City. The church steadily added members, both students and townspeople, and enlarged its outreach programs. In the early 70's there was intense national TV coverage of Christ Church's leadership role in recognizing the ordination of women.


After 107 years of second hand organs, the church mounted a campaign in 1961 to buy an instrument from the Dutch organ builder, Flentrop. Two instruments prior to this were one made by physics professor Churchill and an 1890 Johnson organ brought from Toledo in 1921. When the Johnson was installed an addition was built on the north side to hold it and the quartette was brought down from the balcony and placed in front of the church, gradually enlarging into a choir. In addition to Fr. Daniels, many renowned church musicians served the parish while they were students here - David Hurd, Calvin Hampton, Jerry Meachen, and Haskell Thomson. Daniel Moe played an active role in Christ Church while he was Choral Director at Oberlin Conservatory.

The current Rector is Rev. Fr. Brian Wilbert; Organist/Choir Director is David Kazmir. The hymnal in the pews is Hymnal 1982; favorite hymns of the congregation are "Hail thee, festival day"; "Lift high the cross" and "Christ is made the sure foundation".


Mr. Richard Lothrop, Archivist, supplied much historical data.

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Click here to return to the historical preservation page on Christ Church.