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History of Christ Church

Christ Episcopal Church celebrates 165 years of ministry and mission in Blacksburg during 2023. Its story begins with the creation of Montgomery County in 1777. As the Church in Virginia (i.e. the Church of England in the colony of Virginia prior to the formation of the Episcopal Church in the U.S.A.) was established by law, parishes were created concurrently with counties, and thus, Montgomery Parish was established by the same act in 1777. Given the situation of the times, nothing was done to promote the founding of Anglican/Episcopal churches on the Virginia frontier. The Church in Virginia languished throughout the Revolutionary War period and into the early nineteenth century. The Acts of Disestablishment passed by the General Assembly forced the newly founded Protestant Episcopal Church to make its own way.

The Reverend F. D. Goodwin, missionary priest of the Diocese of Virginia, reported for the Annual Diocesan Convention of 1857, “There is no church organization in this place but half of my time is devoted to it and its vicinity where a few devoted friends of the Church are making efforts to sustain our services and erect a house of worship.” On July 19, 1858 the mission that would become Christ Church was organized. Almost twenty years would pass before that mission came to fruition in the building of Christ Church, because the war years of 1861 to 1865 curtailed missionary work in the New River Valley.

Bishop Johns' report to Annual Council of the Diocese of Virginia for 1874 included a note that a church was about to be built at Blacksburg. By the Annual Council of 1875, forty-two communicants were reported at Christ Church and fifty-six teachers and children were involved in the Sunday School. The next milestone for Christ Church came on September 25, 1887 when the Right Reverend Alfred M. Randolph, Assistant Bishop of Virginia, consecrated Christ Church.

Montgomery Parish has been divided two times, portions of which are presently known as Radford Parish, Radford and St. Thomas Parish, Christiansburg. Christ Church, Blacksburg retains the geographic area still known as Montgomery Parish, roughly the northern one-third of Montgomery County. Christ Church also has been part of three dioceses during its history: first the Diocese of Virginia until 1892 when the Diocese of Southern Virginia was created, which was divided roughly in half in 1919, forming the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia.

As the community of Blacksburg grew, so did Christ Church. The bell tower was added in 1934, and the parish house was built in 1942. In 1972 a new educational wing was completed, and the present parish hall was completed in 1990.  The Memorial Garden was created about 2000, and the labyrinth was built during Lent 2009 by parishioners, with a grant from Episcopal Relief and Development, as our parish’s response to the tragic shooting on the Virginia Tech campus on April 16, 2007.  A major exterior restoration and refurbishment was completed in 2012, and the interior of the church was refurbished in 2015.

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