A Brief History of Christ Church Episcopal – Beatrice, Nebraska
There is over 140 years of history to cover briefly here. But first, you are asked to imagine another time, only ninety years ago, the advent of automobiles, and the lack of air conditioning and paved streets. The front doors of Christ Church Episcopal were open in warm weather to allow in whatever breeze was available. The Reverend Mulligan, who will appear in the history from 1896 to his retirement 35 years later, and for another 18 years until his death in 1949, was opposed to the automobile because of the noise and the dust.
In June of 1909, one year after the start of his newsletter, The Message, he wrote: “Auto be more Thoughtful. If the individual who drives a noisy automobile up North Fifth Street between eleven and twelve on Sunday mornings realized how much he annoys and disturbs two congregations in church, he would undoubtedly go quieter.” (The other congregation was the Presbyterian Church that is in the same location two blocks south.)
A year later he wrote: “Not many years ago North Fifth Street was a favorite residence street, and with its splendid trees, and beautiful lawns presented a very inviting appearance. Since becoming a speed way for gasoline cars all this has been changed. Residents must keep their door shut to keep the dust out of their houses. Pedestrians who venture on North Fifth are blinded with dust and strangled with gasoline smoke. One of two things ought to be done. Either those driving cars ought to be compelled to drive them at a speed that would not raise the dust, or be required to keep the street wet. Why not all who drive cars over North Fifth contribute a sufficient amount to keep it sprinkled? If automobile owners or the city do not do something to reduce the nuisance, the residents will be obliged, in the interest of self protection, to take some steps.”
At some time after this, Reverend Mulligan was given an automobile ride to conduct services at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Wymore, Nebraska. He wrote that it was amazing how quickly he arrived as compared to his horse and buggy, and how nice it was not to face the long, slow ride home. Soon after that he was provided an automobile to conduct services in Wymore and DeWitt and to visit those parishioners when needed. He never again wrote of the disadvantages of the automobile.
The point being made is that we often object to change until we feel the benefit ourselves. Eventually, of course, the street was paved, a speed limit was imposed, automobiles became quieter and air conditioning now requires that the doors remain closed in the summer.
There have been major additions to Christ Church, but only a few changes from what was envisioned when this building replaced the original frame church in 1890.