EPISCOPAL CHURCH of the TRANSFIGURATION
Compiled by Zenobia Kissinger - 1966
For over sixty years the little brown church "Transfiguration"
has stood on the corner of Nelson and Lexington Streets in Bennington
and today holds its cross high with the same dignity.
On May 5, 1904, Rev. Arthur Griffin, then rector of Minneapolis, Kansas
came down to Bennington to see about organizing a mission there.
After some encouragement, he began services on May 15 in the Odd Fellows
Hall. Despite the inclement weather, a congregation was present
and showed much interest.
As the interest grew, it became evident that the work was to be permanent.
Charles Fisher, through the efforts of Joseph Boyle purchased the corner
lot where the church now stands. The owner, an ardent Methodist
was unaware what was to be built on the site or she would never have consented
to the sale.
On August 7, our Bishop Sheldon M. Grizwold visited the mission and confirmed
a class of 16, accepted the mission and organized it as the Parish of
Steps were taken immediately to build a church. On august 21, 1904,
a Sunday School was organized, with Mrs. Flora Grosthwaite as superintendent.
Each child in her class was encouraged to learn the Catechism. The
writer of this article was one, and clearly remembers much of it yet.
The work on the church was delayed during the winter of 1904 due to the
absence of Rev. Griffin who was in the East. On Ash Wednesday,
March 8, ground was broken and on Easter, April 28, 1905, the cornerstone
was laid. That fall the beautiful little church was finished and
was consecrated by Bishop Grizwold. The membership had grown to
40 communicants. Maude E. Dale and Charles Fisher were united in
marriage on June 8, 1905, the first couple to be married in the church.
The little brown church on the corner is Gothic in structure, has a large
undercroft which the Ladies' Guild have finished into a Guild Hall.
The Chancel, with wall-to-wall carpeting, has a beauitiful marble altar
above which displays its beauty a large stained glass window, depicting
the "Transfiguration of Christ." This window was made
in Italy at the cost of $125.00, purchased by the Ladies' Guild.
The cost now would be several thousand dollars.
On either side of the chancel is a vestry room and a room for the Clergy's
study. The nave of the church seats 150 people. Six beautiful
stained glass windows were donated by individuals. The building
was built by the Lott Brothers.
In 1957, children of the late Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Boyle donated lights,
consisting of hanging lanterns, which add much to the church. In
1958, Mrs. Maud Fisher and family presented the church with a baptismal
fount and pulpit honoring her late husband, Charles Fisher.
In memory of her late husband, Dr. Earl Baxter Briney, Mrs. Doris Briney
gave the church a beautiful prayer book for the altar. Gold vases
for the altar and alms basins were given by Mrs. C. C. Nielson in memory
of her late husband, C. C. Nielson. Mr. and Mrs. Junior Orner
presented the church with a large Bible. Mrs. Jessie Fox Smith presented
the air conditioner and two large chancel chairs were given by Mrs. Tillie
A new Wurlitzer electric organ was presented through the efforts of the
congregation to the church in l963. The organist for 31 years, Mrs.
Dan Rehberg, has faithfully performed her duties each Sunday.
The initial cost of this little church was $8,648.00 and much of the labor
was donated; this was built in 1905. The congregation went through
many difficulties paying off their debt, but the small band never gave
up. The Ladies' Guild had ice cream socials each Saturday, quilted
quilts, gave dinners and held rummage sales. The ladies are still
working to keep the church going and making it look attractive.
The following Bishops have served our dioceses: Sheldon M. Grizwold,
John D. Sage, Robert H. Sage, Robert H. Mize, Shirley H. Nichols,
Arnold M. Lewis and our present Bishop, William Davidson - to name some
of them. Through the years ministers have come and gone. Through
the efforts of Rev. Edward Mize, son of the late Bishop Mize, work
with the youth of the church was successfully carried out. Later
Rev. R. L. Clem, now head of St. John's Military School, ably served our
mission for nine years.
One of our local parishioners, Joe E. Boyle of Bronzville, New York, became
editor of the Episcopal Church magazines, "Spirit of Mission"
and "Forth Magazine."
Our Ladies' Guild, with Mrs. Jessie Fox Smith as president, is striving
to keep up the needs of our little
mission and through their efforts help continue the church's participation
in the struggle for fellowship and freedom.
Religion to me is simply the conviction that all human beings must hold
some belief in a power greater than ourselves and whatever their religious
beliefs may be, it must approach whatever their future holds with serenity.
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