In September of 1801 Abraham Marland and his wife, Mary Sykes, sailed from Liverpool, England, to America to establish themselves here. The only resources Marland had to sustain him were some bales of woolen cloth in the hold of the ship and, in his pocket, his mother’s Book of Common Prayer. Although Mrs. Marland had died when Abraham was only four, his mother’s faith had become part of him. He vowed to establish his mother’s church if he prospered in the new world. In 1807, after successful ventures, he came to Andover to live.
In 1834, the Marland Manufacturing Company was established in Andover. Abraham Marland’s dream of an Episcopal Church became a reality. At his urging, Episcopal services began as early as 1833, but it was not until August of 1835 that the proposed parish began to take shape. On August 6th the Episcopal Society of Andover appointed its first wardens and vestry with Abraham serving as warden.
The first church was a neo-classical wooden building with four fluted columns crowned by a wooden bell tower. Bishop Alexander Griswold consecrated it on October 31, 1837. On November 1st, the Rev. Samuel Fuller, Jr. was instituted as the first rector. The Rev. Fuller used the Rose Cottage across the street from the church as the rectory. It was from the steps of the Rose Cottage that Lafayette addressed the residents of Andover in 1825.
On February 28, 1886, the original church building burned to the ground. Parishioners rushed in and saved the original communion table. All else was destroyed. Wind and extreme temperatures were factors in the total loss of the church. The architects for the new church were Hartwell and Richardson, well-known Boston architects. The parish met in the Town Hall during the construction of the new church, which was consecrated on January 4, 1887.
The Rev. Frederick Palmer ushered the parish into the twentieth century, serving as rector from 1888 to 1913. The Rev. Charles W. Henry, rector from 1913 to 1937, conceived the idea of a community church to serve the residents of Shawsheen Village. He received permission from Bishop Samuel G. Babcock to organize and officiate with other Protestant clergymen, at “nondenominational” services. The Rev. Albert C. Morris, rector from 1937 to 1941, encouraged the establishment of the Andover Thrift Shop.
In February of 1941 a small group of women opened the Andover Thrift Shop to benefit Christ Church. It has become one of the church’s most enduring and successful ministries, while at the same time raising significant amounts of money for the church’s capital needs. A chapel was completed in 1959 and named for The Rev. John S. Moses, rector from 1942 – 1959. During the term of the Rev. J. Edison Pike (1959-1980) the town and the church grew rapidly. A new education building was built to accommodate the expanding parish. The Rev. James A. Diamond (1981-1999) emphasized the sacramental nature of faith through increased offerings of Holy Communion and Healing services. Under his leadership Christ Church expanded outreach programs such as Bread & Roses, Neighbors in Need, and Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity. A midweek service was begun on Wednesday mornings and continues today. In January of 2001, the Rev. Dennis Jarry became the thirteenth rector of Christ Church. His service to Christ Church was cut short by his death in December of the same year.
The following year, The Rev. Jeffrey Gill began his ministry at Christ Church. He was instituted as the fourteenth rector in September 2005. Under his leadership the parish has begun to develop more focus on parish growth and the importance of small group ministries within the parish. The Rev. Jeffrey Gill has helped to establish the Esperanza Academy in Lawrence, which graduated its first class in June 2009. The parish has made a commitment to excellence in music and worship. The long-term needs of the parish are also being addressed through a strategic planning process and a capital campaign for some much-needed building improvements, including a new organ that was installed in the Fall of 2011.