Christ Church has a vision — a 2020 Vision for celebrating the 150th anniversary of the first Episcopal church built in northern Wisconsin. Although the church was officially established in 1857, the construction of the Carpenter Gothic chapel was interrupted by the Civil War. The current structure at 125 North Third Street in Bayfield, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was not completed until 1870.
The Rev. Tanya Scheff, priest in charge, recently appointed decade-long Bayfield resident Claire R. Fliess as Chair of the 150th Anniversary Planning Committee.
Fliess is credited with keeping the church open from 2011-2017, following the retirement of Father Dennis Michno. It functioned as a chapel as it did in 1870, being open during the spring, summer and fall. Many of the services were provided by visiting bishops and priests from various parts of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois. Fliess served as Pastoral Assistant under Father Michael Newago in 2016-17, and is currently the Junior Warden.
A “cradle Episcopalian,” Claire is the widow of The Rev. Rex Fliess who died in November 2009. For nearly 30 years, they served churches in Illinois and Wisconsin. They chose Bayfield as their retirement home town.
Fliess has already started staffing the Planning Committee and preliminary plans include a homecoming celebration for current and former church members, development of a church history brochure, restoration work on the historic church and flower gardens, and guided tours of the church and grounds. “I am really interested in finding people who are related to the founding congregation as well as those who want to share their memories of Christ Church,” explained Fliess. “We are doing restoration work on the church in order to celebrate in style and to ensure that this beautiful little church is around for another 150 years.”
“Claire is obviously the right person to lead the anniversary initiative. She knows the church and the community and has a great passion for both. I am so pleased that she has accepted the appointment,” said Rev. Tanya Scheff, who is fondly known as Mother Tanya by her parishioners.
Christ Episcopal Church, located at 125 N. Third Street in Bayfield, has worship services celebrating the Holy Eucharist on Sundays and Wednesdays, and offers a 12-Step Morning Prayer Service on Thursdays at 8 a.m. If you’re interested in learning more about the 150th anniversary, you can contact Claire Fliess by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.