Saint Charles started as a mission congregation. The first Episcopal services in the Fort Morgan area were held in 1887-1888 and were led by the Rev. John T. Protheroe of Greeley. Rev. Protheroe was a Nashota House graduate and had the reputation of being a fine preacher. The first recorded service as on November 15, 1887 at the new Presbyterian Church of Fort Morgan on the corner of State Street and Beaver Avenue. Rev. Protheroe also had responsibilities for a church in Fort Collins. The next recorded meeting was held on Tuesday, February 21, 1888 when the diocesan Bishop John F. Spaulding and Rev. Protheroe held evening services at the Presbyterian Church. They stayed with the J. E. Brown family. A New church was proposed and the Bishop contributed $300 to the project. Services were again held on April 30 and a wedding was held on June 27 for Louis J. Bartlett and Hattie A. Farnsoworth. The last service reported was on Sunday September 9 and in the evening, members of the Oasis Masonic Lodge were present in full regalia to hear his address on “Masonry and Christianity.” In 1889 Rev. Protheroe assumed responsibility for St. Luke’s in Fort Collins in addition to his ministry in Greeley and the Morgan area.
Between 1890 and 1902, diocesan journals show Fort Morgan as an unorganized mission. Apparently the Archdeacon visited somewhat regularly, the twenty families living in Fort Morgan, Sterling and Julesburg. It is unknown whether these were just visits or actual services conducted in a communicant’s home. A Diocesan Journal report of June 3, 1902 shows Saint Charles as an unorganized mission of six families and five individuals for whom five services were held.
Saint Paul’s Mission was established in Fort Morgan by the Venerable Maurice Bywater, Archdeacon of the Diocese of Colorado on April 26, 1903. He was trained in England and was Archdeacon of the diocese until 1906. At this time, Fort Morgan was a bustling railroad center with a dozen or so Burlington Northern trains going through daily. Father Bywater and Mr. William Henry Clatworthy obtained permission from the school board to hold services at the local high school at 300 Lincoln Street, at least until summer when the building was closed for cleaning and repair. There were 12 communicants at this time. Services were later held in the Women’s Relief Corps Halls, the Farnsworth Hall, upstairs at 216 Main Street. During this time, Mr. R. F. Baker sold Lot 9, Block 13 of the original town of Fort Morgan, to the diocese for the church at the cost of $250.. Judge Tyler D. Heiskell was the senior warden of this new ministry and would continue to be that lay leader for nearly 20 years. It is believed that he was involved in the successive efforts over time to establish a strong Episcopal church in this area. He homesteaded land northwest of Corona in Weld County and married Wilmena Bricken in January 1876. A choir was formed consisting of Mrs. Frank E. Baker,the pianist, Miss Edna Saunders, two other young women, Frank Wagner, Moses Wagner, and Maurice Brown. A second choir was formed composed of Hazel Wagner, pianist, Daisy and Alma Heiskell, Harriett and Inez Gillman, and Florence Baker. The Archdeacon left a complete choral setting for the Holy Eucharist, which he had arranged and had been approved by the Bishop of Kansas. Mrs. M. H. (Arleen) Merril was the choir directory.
The official date of existence was April 26, 1903, when it was decided services would be held regularly on the last Sunday of the month, a Bishop’s Committee was elected and a ladies guild discussed. The Sunday services would be both morning and evening. On December 27, Archdeacon Bywater held a Knights Templar religious service.
In 1904, Priest-in-Charge of the Mission, Rev. Charles McLean, led the services and led the drive to build a new church building. Rev. McLean was also responsible for All Saint’s Episcopal in Sterling Colorado. He and his family arrived in January of that year. He had a PhD and had read privately for his ordination. Weekly services included Morning Prayer and Sermon at 11 a.m., Church School at 2:30 pm, and Evening Prayer and Bible Study at 7:30 pm. The Ladies Guild formed in April with Mrs. Mary Johnson as president, Mrs. Wilmena Heiskell as vice-president and Mrs. Alice Kinkel as secretary. Their first project was sunbonnets for sale. Sewing was the primary activity to help raise funds. Membership was $.50. From October 1904 to March 1905 the local Fort Morgan Times shows the name of the mission as St. Mark’s Episcopal in ads for musical settings for the various canticles used along with the offertory with one of the Heiskell girls having a solo part. There is no mention of Holy Communion. December 11 is the last advertised services for Dr. McLean.
From 1905 through 1907, The Venerable Thomas A. Schofield, Archdeacon, conducted the services. The first church cost $1687.30, was made of cinder blocks, was approximately 25 x 50 feet, and was erected on the northeast corner of Prospect Street and East Kiowa Avenue in 1905. There were 118 names that donated to the building, including many non-Episcopalians, as the church only had twenty-seven communicants. It would serve as the primary church for 52 years. Construction began in February of 1905. Bishop Olmstead was to have been present at the laying of the cornerstone on May 11th, but as he was ill, Archdeacon Bywater presided. There was a partial basement so the heat from the furnace could come up through a grating in the center aisle. The altar was at the east end of the church with the choir along the walls on either side. The sacristy was in the northwest corner, the choir/acolyte dressing room in the southwest corner, and a small vestibule in the church. The door lay at the west end and the windows on both sides had gothic arches over them. The stained glass window over the altar had been given by a Denver attorney. The building was complete by December. The first service was conducted there on January 21, 1906 led by Bishop Charles S. Olmstead, second bishop of the Diocese of Colorado. The church was never dedicated or consecrated. The mortgage was held by the American Church Building Fund Commission for $800. The congregation was very surprised when the notice came for payment of the first note, as they had understood that no payment was to be made, except for interest, for five years. Later, arrangements were made with Mrs. Louis L. Schott to borrow the balance of the mortgage from her and pay such amounts as possible at any time whenever there was enough to make a payment. A second mortgage of $650 was made on June 29, 1909 to Mrs. Schott, which paid off the mortgage to the American Church Building Fund Commission. Apparently Archdeacon Schofield set up the mission record books, backtracking to include the tenure of Father McLean. That service record book for the years prior to 1911 apparently is no longer available, if it ever was. The Ladies Guild had 14 members that met quarterly at teas to raise money for church pews. Some of the sewing was on choir vestments for the small boys in the choir. The first annual bazaar was held on December 6 raising $55.96.
The Vicar Rev. W. H. DuMouolin led the church from November 1906 to September 1907. He had several baptisms, confirmation students and held the first burial of the mission, an infant. Altar hangings from the guild of St. Peter’s in Chicago were received. The cement sidewalk along the south side was given by Mr. James P. Curry in memory of his recently deceased daughter Vera. Rev. DuMouolin left to go st St. Paul’s in Central City.
The Rev. Roscoe A. Clayborne began on October 1st. He suffered with tuberculosis. He left a guild meeting on November 13th, and never returned. He died in 1911. Apparently a mission clerk was assigned at the beginning of 1908, Mr. L. O. Trowbridge.
The next Vicar served from 1908 through 1910. This Vicar, the Rev. Harry Harman Clement. He was an excellent carpenter as well and engineered the building of the rectory at 311 East Kiowa Avenue during 1909. He came to Fort Morgan from a ministry at Grace Church, Georgetown, Colorado. He was a deacon who had read privately for his ordination, being ordained into the priesthood in June 1909. The Ladies Guild was formed shortly after his arrival. It was to be the driving force in the congregation for many decades, raising money for many diversified needs of the church, supporting the mission work of the church, and helping provide continuity when there was no priest. The guild secretary recorded in the minutes of the first meeting Rev. Clement attended that it was wonderful to have a priest who was so versatile that he could build a house and operate a sewing machine.The rectory was built despite efforts to meet the payments on the mortgage and the need of other things for the new church. Apparently Father Clement did most of the work on the rectory himself. Bishop Olmstead confirmed six young people on November 29th 1909 and there were several weddings there as well. The guild moved at a rather fast clip to raise the money needed for the church. The guild elected Mrs. Wilmena Heiskell as vice-president, Mrs. L. O. Trowbridge as treasurer and Mr. H. H. (Aurora) Clement as secretary. This is the first mention of a St. Martha’s Guild. It is possible that this was a group of younger ladies and may have met in the evening. The guild launched as paper drive using a Clathworthy shed for storage. The Commercial Club dinner is the first indication of what was to be a long history of putting on dinners for other organizations. The sewing continued with the making of shirtwaists and other items for a bazaar. The bazaar was so successful that $130 was paid toward the church debt and another $200 pledged to be paid by the following May. The guild bought an organ for the church from Mrs. Layton and they began making payments on it.
1909 saw a period of growth under Rev. Clement. The size of confirmation classes at St. Paul’s and at All Saints in Sterling grew during this time with classes being held in June and December. The vicar felt that there should be a local unit of the Women’s Auxliary of the Board of Missions and Mrs. Clements filled this position. The Ladies Guild became known as the Women’s Guild with Mrs. S. H. Rathbone as vice-president, Mr. J. A. (Ernestine) Maxwell as secretary and Mrs. M. N. (Clara) Wagner as treasurer, a position she held for 20 years. In January, the ladies decided to have food sales every two weeks. They continued to collect papers, needing additional storage until they could find a buyer in Denver. They received an offer for the paper from a Kansas City firm, but the price offered would not have cover the freight charge. The men helped to collect and load the freight carload of paper. Bids to tint the interior walls of the church for preservation were solicited and Fred Quackenbush’s bid of $50.00 was accepted. This year’s bazaar netted onl $66.95 and it was decided to put $50 either toward the church debt or toward the new church furnace, whichever need was greater. Despite major efforts by the congregation, the debt on the property was slow to be reduced. They also had the rectory of pay for. It was at this time that the mortgage was given to Mrs. Louis L. Schott (as described above). The Women’s Guild elected Mrs. Grace Cameron as vice president and Mrs. H. H. (Aurora) Clement as secretary. Direct community outreach occurred early in the year when the guild furnished coal to a destitute family in the area. A system was set up whereby each lady in the guild was responsible for checking on newcomers in a designated four block area. Women got the material for a white dossal behind the altar, a carpet for the center aisle of the church, a bathtub for the rectory, which was paid for by a special chicken pie supper at the Clatworthy home, and they finished paying off the church furnace. The September 22nd guild meeting met at the rectory and the ladies were transported out to the Fred Baker home in the country, in brand new automobiles owned by Messrs. Johnson, Clathworthy, White and Hurley, a special treat for the ladies. The vicar left for Emmanuel Church in Denver on December 31, leaving a congregation of 40 communicants, 80 baptised members, and 30 youth in the church school.
The Mission Clerk Trowbridge and his family moved to Denver at this time and Mr. Moses N. Wagner took over as mission clerk, a position he held for several years.
On February 1, 1911, Father Clement was replaced by the Rev. Frank G. Rickard, Vicar, who served until 1912. He came from St. George’s parish in Leadville and was originally from Ontario Canada. He also served churches in Alberta Canada before coming to Colorado. He began the habit of recording the services which he conducted. He conducted Sunday Morning Prayer and Sermon at 11:00, with Holy Communion and Sermon on the first Sunday of each month and then Evening Prayer and Address at 7:30 pm on Sundays. Twice a month, he traveled to Sterling for Sunday evening services at the Masonic Hall, every three months held an 11:00 service there. In September, he began conducting a 3:00 pm service at the Presbyterian Church in Brush, alternating with his Sterling schedule. He conducted services a couple Sunday afternoons at Grand View School, 1 mile north of the intersection of Morgan County Roads W & 17. In September, the Johnsons moved away and Mrs. Rachel Rathbone became the guild president and Mrs. W. H. Clatworthy became vice-president. The first meeting of each month at the guild became a social meeting, not a sewing meeting. There was a White Sale in May, cooked food sales, the serving of businessmen’s lunches, and in December they held their bazaar in the Elk’s Hall. In addition to conducting services in Brush and Sterling, Rev. Rickard prepared confirmation classes in both places.
On March 21, 1912, Bishop Olmstead baptised 2 adults and confirmed 12 people at the German Evangelical Church in Sterling. He was back on Monday, April 1st to confirm seven people at the Presbyterian Church in Brush. Rev. Rickard left the parish somewhere around his last service on July 7, 1912. There are no records of any services being conducted during the rest of the year. The guild elected Mrs. J. C. Anderson president and Mrs. C. W. (Maude) Hammond as secretary. The Clatworthys hosted a parish social at the home on May 21st and then a supper at 25 cents a plate in the evening of December 3rd after the bazaar. Food sales were part of how the church raised money for the $112 interest payment on the mortgage. The two guilds merged formally in October. Every fourth meeting would be a social meeting with members asked to bring a guest, evidence of evangelism at work. The size of the congregation fell by 40 baptized members.
In 1913, The Rev. Jasper W. Hard arrived on February 1st from Saint Barnabas church in Glenwood Springs.He was a graduate of Western Theological Seminary and had three small children. This was the first year there was a service of Holy Communion on some of the Holy Days and at an 8:00 am service on some Sundays. The 2nd and 4th Sundays were for services in Sterling. Bishop Olmstead officiated in Sterling on May 25th in the morning and that evening in Fort Morgan. There was a junior warden at this time, William H. Clathworthy, who was a long time vestry member. The last vestry member to have been a junior warden was Robert F. Taker at the time the church was build. Mrs. H. W. (Freda) Clatworthy was president of the guild, Mrs. S. H. (Lucy) Prince was vice president and Miss Corinne Bullis was the secretary. The ladies decided to have a social meeting every fourth Saturday afternoon so that the teachers could attend. The merger of the guilds lasted until the summer. Women continued to sew and tie comforters, cook for the food sales, and held the bazaar at the Cocoran and Whitney store in December. The mortgage was paid down another $300 and the vicars salary dropped from $800 to $600 a year. The vicar was being subsidized by the diocese at this time. Rev. Hard left on May 28th, 1914 for Montana. His wife had been hospitalized in Denver for surgery and didn’t join him or the family until later summer after World War I started.
June 1, 1914 saw the Rev. Charles A. Burritt arrive to be the Vicar. He was the first longest serving Vicar as he served until 1920. He had read privately for his ordination and come to Fort Morgan from st. Stephen’s in Monte Vista Colorado. He had three children, two of whom were teenagers. The rectory was too small and the attic was converted to bedrooms. The Clatworthy’s donated $25 of lumber toward the project as a thank offering for their son being saved from drowning. During his time at Fort Morgan, he expanded his missionary work to Brush, Akron and smaller communities around Fort Morgan. Judge Heiskell was a lay reader regularly at the 11:00 am service in Fort Morgan on the Sundays the vicar was in Sterling. Rev. Burritt aded a regular 8:00 am Holy Communion Service on the third Sunday of each month. The Bishop conducted two confirmation services on November 15, 1914 with the offering to the “Bishop’s Tent.” A reception for the Burritts was held by the Guild in October with members of the community clergy in attendance. Food sales continued, and the women began taking in plain sewing. The social meetings started to be held in the evenings and the first guild card party of record was one held at the Clatworthy’s on November 18. The annual bazaar was held at the armory on December 12 and included a cafeteria style lunch and evening entertainment. The net was $83.63 cents and $25 went to the rectory lumber. Another $200 was taken off the mortgage.
He also led All Saints in Sterling, helping them to build a church building, leaving service there in 1918.
In 1917, the mortgage to Mrs. Schott was released on May 24. In August, at a gathering at Mrs. Helen Warren White’s, members burned the mortgage on the church and rectory. In 1919, the church building had to have rods placed in the church to help support the building, which was falling down. The walls had begun cracking and started to spread outward with the gables following suit. A plan for a new church was drawn up for approximately $1500 to raze the church and used the materials to build a slightly larger church with a full basement for social use. Father Burritt vetoed the plans. The Bishop, who was technically the rector of the church as well as Bishop of the Diocese, stated he would not approve a new church building with a basement for social activities.
From 1921 until 1929, services were led by the Rev. Edward C. Johnson of Greeley. He also taught as a professor at Saint John’s Seminary in Greeley and would often send seminarians to preach at the church. The Ladies Auxillary build the Guild Hall at 307 East Kiowa Avenue in 1922 for use by the Sunday School, youth group meetings and social gatherings. The Bishop sent $500 for use in paying for the Guild Hall.At the same time, attempts were made to get a new church built as well, but only the Guild Hall was built. The Guild Hall was designed so that the new church could be attached to it. During his time at Saint Charles, 46 people were confirmed into the Episcopal tradition. When Judge Heikell died in 1921, William H. Clatworthy began a 22 year period as senior warden. One of Rev. Johnson’s changes while at Saint Charles in 1923 was the institution of an 8:00 am church service on Sunday mornings from March to October to accommodate the golfers of the parish. During Lent he would do a Litany service on Friday evenings in the Guild Hall. Father Johnson was remembered by parishioners as a brilliant man, one whose sermons made people stretch intellectually. In 1924, the Ladies Guild was very active. There were food sales on the second Saturday of every month and card parties on the fourth Thursdays. They put on many group luncheons, dinners and breakfasts for groups such as the Friday Club and the Lions Club. They held an annual bazaar and dinner in November, raising $93.15. They saved empty bottles and cold cream jars for a project at the Navajo Indian Mission and supported the Campfire Girls as well. The Guild Hall rented out at $7.50 to $8.00 a time. In 1929, the Rev. Harold T. Shay, Deacon, became the Vicar. He lived in Greeley.
As was typical of the time, the 1930’s saw priests coming out of seminary and staying for short periods of time. He was replaced in 1930 by the Rev. Nelson L. Chowenhill. In 1934, The Rev. Russell E. Potter became Vicar. In 1935, he was replaced by the Rev. Carl R. Ericson, who served until 1940.
From 1940 until 1942, the Rev. Leonidas W. Smith was Vicar. There was no minister from 1942 until 1945 due to the war. During this time, the Rev. Carl Ericson would conduct services here. He was also the rector at All Saints in Sterling at the time.The Rev. Leon E. Morris became the Vicar in 1945 . In 1946, the City of Fort Morgan Fire Department declared the church building as unsafe for public use. A wooden brace was put up on the outside of the west wall of the church to help stabilize it. In 1947, the Rev. Paul E. Healey was Vicar.
1950 was a banner year for Saint Charles. In 1950, the Rev. Marshall V. Minister became Vicar. Rev. Minister was a WWII veteran and student at Greeley State College. He had served as a lay leader here during the spring of 1947, had preached for a time in 1949 as a seminarian, and then was assigned as vicar. Under his leadership, on April 24, 1951, Saint Paul’s Mission became The Parish Church of Saint Charles the Martyr Episcopal Church. The church is dedicated to the royal martyr, St. Charles the First. The status of the church to a parish was elevated by the Right Reverend Harold L. Bowen, Bishop of the Diocese of Colorado at the time. Rev. Minister served until 1962. He designed and led the building of a new church at the corner of Lincoln Street and East Eighth Avenue on land donated by Vera Curry Davidson, its current location. The church was built and was dedicated on April 26, 1957. The building was considered contemporary as the time, but there are many details of Anglican catholic church customs in its architecture and design. There are 12 consecration stones set into the walls, a traditional confessional and a Deacon’s step. The Jerusalem cross is used throughout and the walnut crucifix was imported from Oberammergau, Bavaria. There are stained glass windows across the east and west walls of the church. The church grew steadily during this time frame, with 138 confirmations. This was a period of oil exploration in the community which helped lead to growth in the congregation.
In 1962, the Rev. Lorin A. Paull became the second rector of Saint Charles. During his tenure, the old church property on East Kiowa Avenue was sold, and a rectory at 907 Grant Street was purchased in 1964. An annex to the church was also purchased that year at 515 East Eighth Avenue. In 1970, some ladies of the parish established a Nearly New Shop, a thrift shop, that helped support the churches ministries.
When Rev. Paull left in 1970, the Reverend Allen D. Johnson became rector for two years, followed by the Reverend Charles Larry Day who took over in 1973. In 1978, the Very Rev. Fred F. Kin, became the interim Rector. He was also the Dean of the Northern Deanery of the Diocese of Saint Charles.
In 1980, the Rev. Robert L. Thompson became rector and in 1984, the members burned the second mortgage on the church building. In 1989, the Rev. Robert McLeod became rector, but served only a short time. During Father McLeod’s time, the church split as he was somewhat charismatic and a fundamentalist at the same time. In 1992, The Rev. Thomas A. Neyland became the interim rector and then became full-time rector in 1993. He served until 1996. The Annex and rectory were both sold during this time, with the money placed into an investment account for improvements to the church building. The Nearly New Shop closed in 1997. From 1996 through 1998, a series of ministers supplied at Saint Charles. In 1998, the Rev. Carmen M. Stansberry became the first woman rector at Saint Charles, although on a part-time basis.
In 2001, the Rev. Nancy L. Malloy became Rector. During the Rev. Malloy’s tenure, the church saw growth in their outreach. Two mission trips to the Dominican Republic were undertaken by members, who built a school library and a home during these trips. A couple of members discerned their callings to the ministry during this time, one for the priesthood and another into spiritual direction. Also during this time, a change of focus from the very high catholic style of services to a more relaxed, but still very prayer filled service occurred. Two gardens, both a meditation and a memorial garden, were planted during this time. The Memorial Garden is to honor Irving Heath, a very faithful member of the parish. Rev. Malloy left in 2007.
From 2007 until 2010, the Rev. Bill Kindel was the Priest-in-Charge. He was followed by the current minister, the Rev. Lyn Burns.