1445 Clinton-Raymond Rd., Clinton, MS 39056, Phone:(601) 924-2261
A History of The Church of the Creator
The Church of the Creator is a beautiful little brick building tucked unassumingly into a grove of stately pine trees about three quarters of a mile south of Interstate 20 on Clinton-Raymond Road. Like many Episcopal churches it has predominately gothic features in its facade. It also has an air of modernity which fits its congregation's conception of itself as a blend between the new and the old, the past and the present, and as a dynamic force reaching into the future. This is fitting as the congregation known as "Creator" has struggled through two centuries of effort, toil, loss and heartbreak to reach this moment of success with a Nave and a Parish Hall built within the last twenty years, approximately 300 communicants, and a full service ministry. It is a growing parish with plans for expanding its present buildings and its opportunities for others.
As a parish, Creator can truly say we have come a long way as we look back at our roots in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The congregation began practically co-terminus with the City of Clinton, then known as Mt. Salus for its health-giving springs. Mt. Salus was incorporated as the City of Clinton in February 1830.
The first church organization in town was a mission formed by the Presbyterians in 1826. It was followed by the Methodists who organized a congregation in 1831 and in 1833 built a small brick church on the corner of East and College Streets. This is the church that later became the Episcopal Church, but the Episcopalians didn't organize until 1837. We always had a special relationship with the Methodists and worshiped in a room of the Methodist Church until that church constructed a new building at East and Main and sold the original building to St. Matthew's Parish.
The Episcopalians in Clinton did not have enough Communicants to form a congregation until under the leadership of the Rev. J. Mc Dale, we decided to form St. Matthew's in 1837. We were received into the Diocese the same year. It was also in 1837 that President Andrew Jackson issued his "Specie Circular" which required gold and silver in payment for public lands. This started a run on the banks and the whole banking financial structure collapsed. It was more than one hundred thirty years before Clinton had a population over 3,000 again. It was a miracle an Episcopal congregation survived at all. The congregation was never large, but in 1857, we were able to purchase the original Methodist Church and promptly renamed it St. Matthews.
The Civil War started in 1861, Mississippi became a battlefield, and Clinton lay in Grant's path on his way to Vicksburg. Grant commandeered St. Matthew's for a hospital and left it practically in ruins. In 1888 the building was repaired and again served the congregation. By 1920 the town of Clinton had a population of only 669, and Episcopal communicants had dwindled to 18. St. Matthews again became an unorganized mission. In the 1930's intermittent services continued to be held in the home of communicants and a small room of the Methodist Church, to whom the pews from St. Matthews had been given. In 1953 the Diocese sold the St. Matthew's property to the First Baptist Church. The communicants had been "transferred" to St. Columb's in Jackson, however, most preferred to go to St. Mary's in Bolton.
A few members of these families were extant when a new congregation called The Church of the Creator came into being in Clinton and bridged the gap. The Rev. James Butler and his successor, Rev. Terrell Griffis, served both St. Mary's and Church of the Creator. It was the Rev. Butler who salvaged one of the bricks from the 1831 St. Matthew's, and in the early services of Church of the Creator, always laid the brick on the altar. The brick is now incorporated into the vestibule of the present Nave. This brick symbolizes our connection to that "great cloud of witnesses" who struggled before us to bring the Episcopal Church to Clinton.
In the 1960's Clinton's population grew dramatically and with this large growth came additional Episcopalians. A group of us, in the early 1970's began meeting in homes. As the group expanded, the meeting places changed - first, Holy Savior Catholic Church, then the American Bank, and finally The People's Bank. Twenty years later one member wrote, "There were ups and downs to worship in a bank. Mostly these involved carrying the altar and chairs up and down the stairs to the storage room." In August 1977 John Fox donated a 4 1/2 acre parcel of land to this new congregation. This generous gift created excitement and great anticipation of what was to come, prompting 45 Episcopalians to petition Bishop Duncan Gray, Jr. to become an organized mission. And in 1978 the Diocesan Council passed the petition.
This newly formed mission cleared the land and borrowed $15,000 from the Diocesan Standing Committee to buy two trailers, which were dedicated by Bishop Duncan Gray, Jr. in 1979. Later a third trailer was added by gift. During these early years, two other priests served the mission, The Rev. Joe Burnett and the Rev. Gil Montjoy. On December 5, 1987 we broke ground for our first permanent building, our beautiful Nave. The stained glass windows, the pews and most of the furnishings were special gifts. The St. Matthew's brick was laid in the vestibule by Sam Hobson and the Rev. Ralph Kelly on May 10, 1988. On July 10th of that year the Rev. Ralph Kelly was received as priest and, substituting for the Bishop, the Very Rev. Canon Fred Bush dedicated the new building.
It had taken 150 years of toil and effort by Clinton Episcopalians to bring that moment into existence, and they celebrated joyously. It was as though the congregation took new courage from that unlikely accomplishment (considering our size). We pressed forward, and within ten years built a new Parish Hall.
In November 1998, The Church of The Creator, under the leadership of the Rev. William Hyde, petitioned the Diocese of Mississippi to be considered for Parish status. In February 1999, during Annual Council Creator was granted Parish status. 2002 saw The Rev. William Hyde answer a call to a parish in Austin, TX and the Rev. Luther Ott took over as Rector of Creator.
Our parish continued to grow under the leadership of Rev. Ott. On October 1, 2006 The Rev. Luther Ott resigned as Rector of Creator. We were fortunate to be assigned an interim Rector, Fr. Michael Dobrosky within a very short time following Fr. Ott’s resignation. We at Creator continue to push forward with the dream of replacing our last trailer with a permanent building that will house additional classrooms, space for our choirs, and our growing youth program.
On September 9, 2007 we welcomed a new Rector, The Reverend Ann Whitaker, to lead us through this next phase of growth. Ann resigned in August of 2011 to become Associate Rector at St. Peter's in Oxford.
Our current Priest-in-Charge is The Reverend Robert M. Blanton. "Pastor Bob", as he likes to be called, assumed his duties here December, 2012. The Rev. Bob Blanton is a retired Lutheran priest who serves this parish as a part-time Priest-in-Charge. Pastor Bob has begun to lead this parish into the future. Our congregation is growing and under his leadership a new education building was begun in 2014.
It seems as though Fr. Joe Burnett, early in this church's history, epitomized this congregation when speaking of two selfless members from the first Board. He said, "The quality of their leadership, their vision for the parish, and their commitment to one another has made this a unique and special community”. We at Creator continue to do our best to carry on this tradition.