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 Transfiguration.

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 Markley.

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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