Fr. Theodore Gibson
Father Theodore Roosevelt Gibson came to Christ Church on the first Sunday in October, 1945. The Gibson ministry left a legacy, not only for the leadership of Christ Church, but also, for the quality of life in Dade County. Father Gibson’s influence in getting the City of Miami to pass an ordinance requiring all property owners in the City to install inside water and sanitary facilities, was just one of a string of civic accomplishments he achieved for the people of Miami. His political struggle to have equal rights for all people effectively changed the way Dade citizens educated, enjoy their leisure time, purchase and maintain real estate, follow zoning restrictions and ride public transportation. Father Gibson became one of the most outstanding leaders in South Florida, extending his ministry to the people of the entire community, as well as the members of his own congregation. Christ Episcopal Church became a parish, and the Articles of Incorporation were filed under his administration. In the nearly thirty-six years he pastured Christ Church, Father Gibson did much to improve the church in every respect. He instituted the Vestry as a governing body of the parish. He persuaded the Bishop to designate a parcel of land for the express purpose of building a nursery school and kindergarten (also named St. Alban’s) for the children of the community. He purchased as much property surrounding the Church as possible, eventually building a rectory, new parish hall, multi-purpose room, and an office for the Rector. (In fact, the “coffee hour” was begun as a fund-raiser to help defray indebtedness created from modernizing the church property.) Always intent on beautifying the facilities and grounds, Father Gibson encouraged his members to purchase memorial windows and doors, pews, hymnals, and other church furnishings. A devoted clergyman, Father Gibson also challenged the Episcopal Church by leading the way for Blacks in leadership positions. Appointed Canon in 1968, he was instrumental in getting Blacks appointed to the Diocesan’s powerful Standing Committee. He was the first to appoint women as lay readers and chalice bearers (the late Verneka S. Silva and Iva M. Hopkins) in Southeast Florida; and he inspired two young men from the congregation to enter the ministry, The Reverend Austin R. Cooper, Sr. and the Reverend Percival George Brown. In September 1982, after thirty-five and a half years of service to Christ Church, Father Gibson passed away.
Fr. Ronald Fox
In April, 1982, after months of negotiations, the Reverend Ronald N. Fox was selected as the second rector to continue a leadership role steeped in tradition. He came to Miami from Raleigh, North Carolina where he served as chaplain of St. Augustine’s College. Within months of his arrival, he worked with members of the congregation to raise enough funds to air condition the sanctuary. Father Fox further improved the church’s facilities by modernizing the light fixtures in the sanctuary, adding a marble wall to the altar, converting the rectory into a second location for St. Alban’s Nursery, and installing a fence around the entire church grounds. Father Fox established and directed an area “food bank” and was instrumental in helping to secure the land and building for more than a dozen homes for low-income Coconut Grove residents. During Father Fox’s era, Ruby Taylor Cruz was ordained a deacon in Christ Episcopal Church. On November 23, 1996 Barbara Baptiste-Williams was ordained a deacon in Christ Episcopal Church. Wanting to improve the church’s internal communication and involve more members in the active life of the church, Father Fox encouraged the establishment of more church organizations and created a Parish Council. He left Christ Church after ten years of service to work with the Bishop of Southeast Florida as the Canon for Youth and Social Concerns. Father Fox spent ten years as rector of Christ Church.
Fr. Bernard Griffith
On November 1, 1994, The Reverend Father Bernard M. Griffith, a native of Barbados became the third Rector of Christ Episcopal Church. Prior to arriving at Christ Episcopal Church, he was rector at St. Simon the Cyrenian Episcopal Church in New Rochelle, New York. He came with nearly twenty years of service as an ordained priest. During his tenure, he enhanced the worship service by providing a choral Eucharist each Sunday morning and conducted celebratory masses for all church holidays. He tripled the size of the choir, revised the Parish Council and professionalized Vestry operations as well as oversaw the purchase of real estate property adjacent to the church. Although negotiations had begun before his arrival, the purchase was completed soon after his arrival. That was his first official signature for and on behalf of Christ Episcopal Church. During Father Griffith’s tenure, he sponsored two persons to the Sacred Ministry-Reverend Vivian Hopkins (Deacon) and Father Terrence Taylor (Priest). As a part of his pastoral duties, he twice visited Cuba as a member of a special multi-denominational Christian group and successfully re-established a link between Christ Episcopal Church and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. He beautified Christ Episcopal Church with the addition of impact resistant stained glass windows and marble tiles. The Founders’ Window was installed on November 6, 2004 and 14 stained glass windows were installed in December 2007 and 2008. Father Griffith modernized the air conditioning system; upholstered church pews, replaced old sanctuary furniture and re-established a Rector’s Stall. The placing of national flags of various countries on the wall of the Narthex, demonstrated the diversity of the nations from which our worshippers had come. He also coordinated the purchase of numerous banners in the church’s Chancel, celebrating the variety of ministries in which worshippers are involved. He purchased a Memorial Book and a special stand in which that book is placed, honoring our dearly departed pioneers. A different page is displayed every Sunday, especially on anniversaries of their deaths. Father Griffith was appointed Dean of South Dade Deanery, Chair of World Mission Commission and was appointed Secretary of the Diocesan Convention of Southeast Florida in 2003 and served in that capacity until 2006. He always sought ways to make his congregants feel special and loved. In 2001, he appointed the oldest member of Christ Episcopal Church-Syble Minus Rolle Hawes as “Madam President” of the year. Syble wore the special sash every Sunday. She died on April 1, 2010-her birthday. His legacy will always be remembered because of his establishment of the church’s endowment fund.