FEATURED ARTICLE

 

BISHOP MOODY’S CHURCH

I contend that one cannot understand the present or prepare for the future without knowledge of the past.

This is why anniversaries are important. Today we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of St. Hubert’s Church which was founded on November 3, 1969.

 When I was asked by Father Smith to give a brief history of the Diocese of Lexington and of Bishop Moody’s years as diocesan and his founding of Saint Hubert’s Church, I had not seen the excellent booklet entitled “Saint Hubert’s Episcopal Church, 50 years of serving the community and God”, lovingly prepared for today’s occasion. As I read it while sitting in my pew I realized that I needed to change some of what I had planned to say at the luncheon in order to avoid too much repetition.

It was named St. Hubert’s Church by Bishop Moody in honor of the patron saint of hunters and of the hunt itself, and originated in France where the hounds were blessed in the hope that it would prevent them from contracting rabies.

It is difficult to talk about a particular church in a diocese without knowing the history of that diocese. The Anglican Church had its Kentucky beginnings in the Lexington area during the latter part of the eighteenth century, and the earliest churches were located in the central and northeasterly part of the state. The Diocese of Kentucky, then including the entire commonwealth, was organized in Lexington. Thus it came about that the seedbed of the Church in Kentucky became the “younger” diocese. The Great Elm Tree, Heritage of the Episcopal Diocese of Lexington, which I co-authored with Rebecca Smith Lee in 1969, covered the years 1775-1895.  Ripe to the Harvest, History of the Episcopal Diocese of Lexington, 1895-1995, details the one-hundred year history of the Episcopal Church as a separate jurisdiction in the eastern half of Kentucky.

The Reverend William Robert Moody, a native of Columbus, Mississippi, was elected Bishop of Lexington in 1945 and served until 1971. When he became bishop there were 6,000 baptized members and 4,000 communicants in the diocese. There was a little over $10,000 for the missionary program, a grossly inadequate sum. The depression of the 1930’s and World War11 had taken such a toll on the diocese that not only would the new bishop have to start anew to rebuild many of the existing institutions but he would need to rebuild almost every aspect of diocesan life. There were 14 parishes, 16 missions and 16 clergymen in the diocese. There was only one clergyman in the mountains with the rest of the work being carried on by lay readers. Many of the mission churches were in such a state of disrepair that services could not be held in them, many of the larger city parishes were in need of refurbishing, and rectories and new parish houses were needed. The bishop pointed out that the rapid achievement of self support brought about by Bishop Abbott had cost the diocese dearly and there was not enough money to carry on aggressive work in this time of tremendous and opening opportunity.

In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s expansion began in earnest as Bishop Moody established more and more new parishes. His plan was to have the city of Lexington “ringed with archangels.” The first church to be organized was St, Michael’s, a mission of Christ Church, organized in 1955 in the Zandale area, the second was St. Gabriel’s on Clay’s Mill Road and the third was St. Raphael’s on Parker’s Mill Rd. Soon five more new churches were established in different parts of the diocese.

  Two unique institutions came to life in the Diocese of Lexington during the first five years of Bishop Moody’s episcopate – one created, the other re-created. He felt that both were needed to insure the future of the diocese. The bishop considered them to be the” pinnacles” of his episcopate.

 One was the Cathedral Domain. It began in a small way as a simple outdoor shrine in the forested hills of Lee County. Later when funds were available he planned to build a rustic chapel there to serve the needs of a camp and conference center. Before long, however, he envisioned a great cathedral church on the mountain, one that would draw people from all parts of the diocese. What began as a dream eventually became a reality. He named the property the Cathedral Domain and placed it under the charge of a cathedral foundation. Explaining that the operation would be “missionary in nature, but unconventionally broad in scope,” he named it the Cathedral Shrine of St. George the Martyr after England’s patron saint. It was to be the chief mission station of the diocese and the seat of the bishop. During the remainder of Bishop Moody’s episcopate and during the episcopates of succeeding bishops of the diocese, the domain has been a treasured camp and conference center and it has grown both in importance and in scope.

The other “pinnacle” was the Episcopal Theological Seminary in Kentucky. The bishop knew that Bishop Benjamin Bosworth Smith, first bishop of the Diocese of Kentucky had established a seminary in 1832. He discovered that its charter was perpetual and that all he had to do was reactivate it. This he did. A board of trustees was elected and a three-year curriculum was developed, and in September 1951 the reactivated seminary opened its doors with four students entered. For the first three years the bishop and several priests carried the entire preaching load, all serving without pay. There was no tuition. The Episcopal Theological Seminary was reborn. The Church of the Good Shepherd offered its resources for the training of young men for the ministry – a relationship which continued for many years.   Within five years every mission church and aided parish had its own minister, either ordained or on the way to ordination.  Without the Episcopal Theological Seminary in Kentucky this would not have been possible.

There is one church which is unlike the other churches in the diocese.  That church is Saint Hubert’s Church in rural Clark County. Bishop Moody called it a “peculiar church” and likened it to Westminster Abbey because it did not belong to any Church body or financially support any Church body. St. Hubert’s Church serves a tri-county area and is a community venture as well as an Episcopal church. The bishop did the original drawings for the church, modeling it after a typical English country church. It is built of native Kentucky limestone and all of the wood in the interior was grown in Kentucky. John Jacob Niles carved the massive oak doors, chiseling the 84th psalm with ivy and tobacco leaves as a border. The freestanding bell tower beside the church is of the same stone as the church. The “Bell Clarence” was a gift from parishioner Clarence Lebus. It was rescued from a cornfield where it was buried to save it from meltdown during World War11. Saint Hubert’s, the last church to be built while Bishop Moody was diocesan, was financed entirely by gifts from interested persons rather than by diocesan funds. Mrs. Caddis Morris of Clark County gave the five acres of land on Grimes Mill Road, and all of the furnishings were gifts.

There is a beautiful graveyard down the lane to the right of the church. It is dominated by a large statue of Jesus, a gift of William Mussett, a parishioner in 1973. The graveyard was dedicated in1974. Bishop Moody and his wife Cordie Lee, who died in 1978, are buried here, as are St. Hubert’s first rector, the Reverend John K. Barnes and his two children, Francine and Johnny, who were tragically murdered in 1973. The graves of many of the original members of the church are here. Many parishioners are buried in the cemetery and many more have designated their desire to have the cemetery as their final resting place.

The 1928 Book of Common Prayer has been in use since the church was founded in 1969. “Order and beauty in worship create an atmosphere congenial to prayer, make easier the realization of the Presence of Almighty God,” wrote Bishop Moody. The beauty of Holiness remains intact today through the continued use of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer.

 The music of St. Hubert’s under the direction of two accomplished organists has added greatly to the beauty of worship in this place. Don Trivette was the organist from 1987 until his death in 2005, and James Fitzpatrick became organist after Trivette’s death and remains so today.

Bishop Moody retired in 1971 but continued to serve as bishop emeritus and to live in Lexington in his home on Eastin Road for six more years. He remained rector of the seminary and maintained his office there and taught both Old and New Testament. He continued to attend St. Hubert’s Church. He preached within and without the diocese speaking out vigorously with both voice and pen in defense of the Church. He continued to attend the General Conventions of the Church and his voice was heard often in the House of Bishops. He remained active in the Society for the Preservation of the Book of Common Prayer, the Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen and other conservative organizations. On December 12, 1983, he left Lexington for Richmond, Virginia, to be close to his daughter Ann and her family.

 He died in Richmond, Virginia on December 21, 1985 at age 85. A service of Choral Evensong and the Order for the Burial of the Dead was held in Christ Church, Lexington, Kentucky on December 23, 1985 with the Rt. Rev. Don A. Wimberly, Bishop of Lexington, and the Rev. James Harris, rector of St. Hubert’s Church, officiating.

Bishop Moody was succeeded by the Rev. Addison, Hosea who had been rector of St. John’s Church, Versailles, Kentucky, for sixteen years and was well known in the diocese where he was considered one of its own. He was elected bishop coadjutor in 1970, becoming diocesan a year later upon Moody’s retirement. The diocese remained pretty much the same during Bishop Hosea’s episcopate of fifteen years, for shortly after his election he made it plain that he did not plan any change in policy or action within the diocese in the future, only a change in emphasis. Like Bishop Moody he was born to teach. He continued to teach in the Episcopal Theological Seminary. He held his “School of Religion” both within the Diocese and in other dioceses. He was much sought after as speaker and preacher. As a preacher he set forth from the pulpit, naturally and with gentle reasonableness the great truths of the Christian faith.

 The period in which Addison Hosea was bishop—during the 1970’s and 1980’s – has been called the most divisive period in the history of the Episcopal Church in the United States. He felt, as did many thousands of Episcopalians, that the Church had departed from its basic precepts as it embraced controversial changes and movements. He considered the new Prayer Book to be one of the most severe issues to arise during his episcopate. He made no secret of the fact that he preferred the 1928 book but the 1979 book was in every church, so he did his best by authorizing the continued use of 1928 in parishes which desired its continuation with certain stipulations. He managed to consider the opinions of all of his people and to lead the diocese with a steady hand. He coined a phrase about the diocese which stuck – “the Diocese of Lexington is a good place to be.” And it was. He will be remembered for having unified the diocese in a way that it had never been unified before. He broke down the geographical barriers and gave to it a sense of family, with the Cathedral Domain as the center of unity.  

St. Hubert’s Church has had many wonderful and accomplished priests serve as rectors, assistants to the rectors, supply priests, and visiting priests. Among them: The Rev. John K. Barnes, the first rector, serving from 1969 until his tragic murder in 1973; The Rev. John Cavendish 1973-1974; the Rev. James K. Harris 1977-1987; the Rev. John Madden 1987-2007; the Rev. Dr. Dixon Barr, assisting priest 1997-2009; the Rev. Charles Ellestad, priest pro tempore 2008-2012; the Venerable Bryant Kibler, priest in charge 2010-2012; the Rev. Charles Ellestad, priest associate 2013 and currently serving; and the Rev. Dr. Duane A. Smith, rector since 2013.

Since the retirement of the Rt. Rev. William Robert Moody in 1971, there have been eight more bishops of Lexington. The eighth, the Rt. Rev. Mark Van Koevering, who had been provisional bishop since April 2018, until his election as diocesan on November 1, 2019, was at St. Hubert’s on November 3 for the 50th anniversary feast day, preaching, baptizing, confirming, and celebrating the Holy Communion, and as an honored guest at the catered dinner following the service. We were very happy to welcome Bishop Van Koevering as the new Bishop of Lexington.                                                                                Frances Keller Barr