Home News and Features ‘Restore and Explore’ at Post-Flood Christ Church Episcopal 

‘Restore and Explore’ at Post-Flood Christ Church Episcopal 

The Rev. Kevin Holland Sparrow and Rev. Beth Ann Maier conduct the service in the memorial garden next to Christ Episcopal Church on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023, the first time they gathered at the church since the flood of July 10, 2023. Photo by John Lazenby.
This is part of a series of articles examining the current status of Montpelier churches that were impacted by the flood in July 2023.

The congregation at Christ Church Episcopal, at 64 State Street, has been spending the months since the July 2023 flood to not only restore but to explore how the historic sanctuary can be used in new ways. 

Senior warden Elizabeth Parker describes the process as not only fixing the damaged building, but also experimenting with new ways to reconfigure the space. 

“Tim Parker from the graduate department of architecture at Norwich and our priest Rev. Kevin Holland Sparrow presented a five-part series on the history of church architecture, which led us to consider the many ways worship space has evolved over the centuries. We have been discussing how we might make updates in the layout in the church and parish hall.”  

Since July’s flood, the basement, which formerly housed offices and meeting space, has been closed. Church leaders have been considering the wisdom of dry flood proofing, with a report expected in late June. 

In the sanctuary, the 1866 white pine subfloor and the 1930s red oak remain in need of work, but to warm up the space and to make walking less perilous, parishioners have brought in colorful rugs from home. Quilts cover the flood damage at the bottom of some pillars.  The damaged original pews are stored on the side of the sanctuary since the flood — but one has been restored with rollers to allow the space to be reconfigured if needed. The organ and grand piano are undamaged and used for concerts and worship. Simple chairs were obtained for seating on Sunday mornings. 

“We have been able to use the sanctuary in many ways: Red Cross blood drives, concert series, and gatherings as well as for worship services throughout the week. There’s an engineering study ongoing with Stevens Associates of Brattleboro, so we are still in the process. A call for proposals will go out in June.  We are also repairing the benches in the courtyard for community use.” Parker explains.  

In Christ Church’s parish hall, weekday community meals are offered by area churches sharing the kitchen, which was undamaged, until a new location can be determined.  Other meetings and church school use the space. Upstairs, groups use the Taplin auditorium throughout the week. (A meeting of the Mexican consulate will gather there next month) 

The process requires patience and creativity, Parker muses, with many moving parts —  financial, legal, aesthetic, technical — with the involvement of many people and agencies. 

“We are still in a stage of  exploring and experimenting with ways to move forward and thrive,” she adds.