By Russell Hancock
Photos courtesy of Russell Hancock and Christ Church
As the sound of the whistle became louder and louder, anticipation grew for the residents of Fort Meade, Florida, as they anxiously awaited the arrival of the very first train into town on that 2nd day of March, 1886.
Two of the passengers on that train were Luke and Alicia Flood, who had traveled from Enniscorthy, County Wexford, Ireland, to make their new home in Fort Meade and unknowingly play an important part in the history of the quaint Florida town.
After getting settled in their new home, the Flood family, as well as other new residents were lead to start a new church, a church that would carry on the Anglican tradition of their homeland and the Church of England, to be the focus of their life in America.
On September 26, 1886, a missionary priest of the Episcopal Diocese of Florida, led a small group of Christians of the Anglican tradition in the celebration of Holy Communion within the parlors of the Bullock residence in Fort Meade.
In addition to new residents from the Northern States, many in this young congregation, were new to the United States, coming from England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and Canada. Shortly after their first meeting, Luke and Alicia Flood, along with the other founding members of Christ Church were invited to meet in the Fort Meade Methodist Church.
The Rt. Rev. Edwin G. Weed, Bishop of the Diocese of Florida, made his first visit to Ft. Meade on December 22, 1886 to visit the new congregation.
By early 1887, the congregation’s numbers had grown enough to consider the building of a church of their own. It was during this time that Bishop Weed appointed the Rev. George S. Fitzhugh, missionary to South Florida, as a priest in charge of the congregation; thus the Church was formally organized as a mission of the Episcopal Church.
In March, 1888, Bishop Weed visited the congregation, bringing with him a donation of $1,000 toward the cost of building the church. Christ Church was designed by the Rev. J.H. Weddel, architect, in a Carpenter Gothic style familiar to Florida while maintaining the essentials of the Anglican tradition as found in English churches.
With Luke Flood on the building committee, construction was started and completed in 1889 and was fully furnished in 1890. Completed cost of construction was approximately $1,600. The church bell was ordered in 1891, cast in West Troy, New York, by Meneely & Co., and hung later that same year. To this day, it remains the only church bell to ring every Sunday in Fort Meade.