ADDRESS: 18 1/2 Crescent St.

DENOMINATION/AFFILIATION: Episcopal Church, USA

HISTORY: In 1869, a group from the English province of Lancaster, attracted by the cotton mills in Biddeford, applied to Bishop Henry A. Neely to form a parish. This was to be an English church that was not influenced by other Anglican movements in the United States at the time.

Services initially were held in a rented hall, but the cornerstone for a new wooden church was laid on Bacon Street in 1874.

The first services were held while the building was still under construction. The new church was not completed until 1885 because of a recession and the failure of promised help from England.

As the new church began to thrive, plans were made to build a larger church at Crescent and South streets. The Bacon Street building was sold, and a parish hall for the new church was finished.

The first service in the parish hall was held in 1908. Unfortunately, the larger edifice was never built because of a lack of funds.

In 1915, a new rectory was completed. Soon thereafter, the parish hall was converted into a permanent church, in which a chapel was built and pews were installed.

The mills started moving south and closing, and many of the workers went with them. There were joyful moments, such as installing the rose stained-glass window in the Our Lady Chapel, and hard moments when the rectory was sold and attendance declined once more.

Christ Church has always served the blue-collar working class and the poor and has engaged in outreach to the Biddeford community. These programs included supporting Jump Start with the Biddeford Police Department and establishment of a part-time Protestant chaplaincy position at Southern Maine Medical Center.

In September 2008, Christ Church, with the help of fellow churches and service groups, opened its basement to create the Seeds of Hope Neighborhood Center, a Jubilee Ministry Center of the Episcopal Church. The Jubilee philosophy is to provide mercy and promote justice.

Programs and services of the facility include a drop-in center serving continental breakfast items and providing a lounge with cable TV, a lending library, games and crafts and volunteer support and referrals. The facility also has a Career Center (and a Goodwill Workforce Solutions satellite site) with Internet access and a part-time staff person to coach job seekers.

The church also partners with the In-a-Pinch Non-Food Pantry; TOPS, a healthy lifestyles and weight-loss support group; and Go Greene, a leadership development and community service organization for teenagers and young adults.

WORSHIP SERVICES: 10 a.m. Sundays.

PLANS: Christ Church continues to decline in attendance and budget, but its commitment to its members as a faith community and to serving God’s children through Seeds of Hope increases daily. The church is beginning a process of strategic planning to move both organizations forward in the coming years.

CONTACT: The Rev. Shirley Bowen, 283-1783, [email protected]; www.christchurchbiddeford.org or www.seedsofhope4me.org