The Episcopal Church of Saints Philip and James is the only Episcopal Church in Greenlee County of Arizona, serving the towns of Morenci, Clifton, Duncan and surrounding areas. The first mention of Clifton and Morenci was made by the Right Rev. John Mills Kendrick, Bishop of Arizona and New Mexico, in the Convocation Journal of April 1898. He mentioned that services had been initiated by a licensed lay reader from Las Cruces, New Mexico, by name Mr. George R. Bowman. Services were being held every other Sunday evening. In 1901 Bishop Kendrick visited Clifton and Morenci and by 1902 there were ten communicants in Clifton. Church was being held in Library Hall. Some accounts indicate that the Rev. Frederick Solomon Eastman from Globe served both Morenci and Clifton between 1901 and 1903.

On April 18, 1915 Archdeacon James Rockwood Jenkins from Phoenix started monthly services in Clifton and Morenci. On February 27, 1916, the congregations in both Clifton and Morenci were organized as missions by Bishop Julius Walter Atwood: Saint Philip’s in Clifton and Saint James’ in Morenci. (A letter from Archdeacon Jenkins to Mr. George Hearn in 1955 lists the date as Sunday, May 6, 1916. However this date was not a Sunday. The February 27 date is taken from Diocesan documents) .Bishop Atwood appointed Mr. Charles J. Brooke, Warden, and Messrs. Lewis Burch and Frank B. Laine (or Lynde) members of the Executive Committee for Saint Philip’s; and Mr. Charles Mater as Sr. Warden of Saint James’ with Messrs. Robert Ross and William Donohue as members of the Executive Committee. Archdeacon Jenkins continued monthly services after the missions were created.

In 1917, St. Philips was meeting at the Princess Theatre next to the bridge over the San Francisco River (where the deserted furniture store stands now). Later that year, a double house was purchased and later renovated into two rooms, one for church services and one for the missionary in charge and other guild purposes. This building, the first Episcopal chapel in Clifton, was located near the river about where the current Rode Inn Motel (formerly Coronado Motel) stands. Archdeacon Jenkins started the first Sunday school in Clifton on October 3, 1918. At the end of 1918 there were 50 Sunday school pupils in Clifton. The first resident priest for Clifton and Morenci was Fr. Benjamin Johnson Darneille who served the two missions from 5th December 1920 to October 1921. Archdeacon Jenkins resumed services, being assisted by Mr. Edward Clark, a lay reader from Tucson. Services were held in Morenci and Clifton every fortnight. On April 1, 1922 Fr. U. E. Brown was sent to serve Clifton and Morenci. He lived in Clifton until April 1923. In the summer of 1923, the church building in Clifton was destroyed by fire from a cleaning establishment next door. Fr. Guy Oliver Theodore Bruce became Vicar of the two congregations from October 3, 1923 until his death on October 12, 1938 – Fr. Bruce was the first full-time priest for the area. After the fire, services were held at the Woman’s Clubhouse until a new guild house was erected. The lot was purchased from J. T. Quinn by the Protestant Episcopal Church Corporation of Arizona for $325 on March 29, 1924 and the building was completed in the summer of the same year for less than $5,000.This building was located on 2nd Street opposite the present First Baptist Church of Clifton. The first recorded service in the new guild house was on September 25, 1924 with Archdeacon Jenkins. The guild house was dedicated by Bishop Atwood on March 29, 1925. The Clifton-Morenci church was served by various priests on a regular basis until St. Philip’s in Clifton closed and joined Morenci in the early 1960s.

In Morenci, services were held in various places between 1912 and 1928, including the Court House, High School, Morenci Hotel, Morenci Club and Theatre, Morenci Chapel and in private homes. When a new high school was built in Morenci in 1928, the upper floor of the old high school building was used as a church. Frank Ayer then general manager for Phelps Dodge was responsible for obtaining the building for the Episcopal Church. The first service in this building was March 11, 1928 with Guy O. T. Bruce (vicar) and Bishop Walter Mitchell conducting the service. Rev. Bruce held regular services at St. James until his death in 1938. The building was used until 1961. The Episcopal Church used the downstairs floor of this building for Sunday school, guild meetings and other meetings in conjunction with the Presbyterian Morenci Chapel. From 1951 until the church moved, this floor was used exclusively by St. James. In September 1941, Fr. Oliver Wallace Nickle arrived in Clifton to be vicar of Clifton, Morenci and Safford. This is the first mention of Safford in the Diocesan convocation journals. Also, several of the priests that came after Fr. Nickle served Safford too. In 1942, the Board of Directors of the Protestant Episcopal Church Corporation of Arizona “Approved the application for a loan from the revolving fund of St. Philip’s Mission at Clifton and St. James Mission at Morenci, for the purpose of repairs to the vicarage”, a building purchased in Morenci. Hereafter, the vicar for Clifton-Morenci resided in Morenci instead of Clifton. So Fr. Nickle was the first Episcopal priest to reside in Morenci.

Fr. David E. Pettengill was rector of St. James when the congregations of Saints Philip and Saints James were combined to form a parish, the Church of Saints Philip and James in Morenci on October 13, 1961. The current A-frame church building was built soon after Fr. Pettengill combined the churches. The building was started on January 8, 1962 on land leased from Phelps Dodge Corporation to the Episcopal Church Corporation of Arizona. Ground breaking services were held on January 15, 1962 at the new church site at the corner of Sunset and Reservation, now Mountain Ave. The building cost less than $29,000. Some members of the vestry at that time were A. L. Alexander, Senior Warden; Robert F. Doerges, Junior Warden; Wendell Fisher, Secretary; and William A. Griffith, chairman of the building committee. The first service in the new building was held on Palm Sunday, April 15, 1962. There was Holy Communion with seventy-six present. The Church of Saints Philip and James was dedicated on Easter Sunday, April 22, 1962, at 6am with Holy Communion by Bishop Arthur B. Kinsolving. The new church was furnished with many items from St. Philips in Clifton and St. James in old Morenci. In January of1971, the church made the last payment on the mortgage for the building. A mortgage burning service was held on January 10, 1971 by Rt. Rev. Joseph M. Harte to consecrate the church. This date is stated in a framed declaration at the church. A 1974 write up of the church history by Rev. Dr. John Hanna puts the date in 1972.

In 1987 the church lost its parish status and returned to a mission status. The Rev. Ken Williams was rector. After Fr. Williams, the church was served by Rev. Bernard A. (Bud) Williams, Rev. Derrick Wedderburn and Rev. Dr. Eugenia M. Durham. Rev. Durham, the first female priest to serve the area, started as a transition deacon serving St. Luke (Wilcox), All Saints (Safford) and Saints Philip and James (Morenci) in October 1993. She lived in Safford. On January 6, 1994 she was ordained priest and became vicar of the three congregations. She travelled to Morenci for services at 8:00am and returned to Safford for 11am service. On July 27, 1999 a lightning strike caused fire that damaged the sanctuary of Saints Philip and James – the damage cost about $25,000 to repair. The church maintained a mission status throughout Rev. Durham’s time.

By the end of 2010, the congregation had dwindled to two families, Bill Cuthbertson’s and Samuel Tachie-Menson’s. Attendance at services was at most, ten. The Morenci congregation had started joining All Saints in Safford on special occasions like Christmas and Easter, and on days that only one family would be present. In 2011, the remaining families decided to stop meeting in Morenci and join All Saints for services. Rev. Durham was about to retire at this time. The last service held by Rev. Durham here was on May 1, 2011. It was the baptism of Gabriel Tachie-Menson, the third child of Samuel and Kate Tachie-Menson. A letter was sent to the Bishop Rt. Rev. Kirk Smith by the Bishop’s committee weeks after this last service to inform him of the decision to cease services at Saints Philip and James. The Bishop’s committee was made up of Samuel Tachie-Menson, Senior Warden; Bill Cuthbertson, Junior Warden; and Suzanne Cuthbertson, Treasurer/Clerk.

When services were ceased in Morenci, the telephone and post office box services were cancelled and all utility bills were forwarded to the diocese for payment. Also the diocese took over the maintenance of the building. Rev. Durham retired from All Saints and left Safford in November 2011. The Tachie-Mensons stopped by the church periodically to check on it. The families from Saints Philip and James worshiped with All Saints in Safford. Kate Tachie-Menson did Sunday school with the kids during services. It was only her three children in Sunday school most of the time.

In January 2012, Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc., the owner of the Morenci mine at this time demanded to take back the land on which Saints Philip and James chapel sits since no activity was going on there. The company wanted to build houses there as part of a housing expansion program. Bishop Kirk Smith asked Mr. Samuel Tachie-Menson to start holding morning and evening prayers at the church. Fr. Allen Breckenridge of Tucson was assigned by the Bishop to give some guidance to Samuel. At that time, Safford did not have a priest so was relying on supply priests to officiate on Sundays. Fr. Allen Breckenridge was one of the supply priests. Samuel held the first Morning Prayer at Morenci on Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 9am – there were thirteen people. Jackie Hale assisted in monthly morning prayers for two more months and then they changed to evening prayers on Wednesdays. The congregation continued to worship with All Saints in Safford on Sundays. By the fall of 2012 weekly evening prayers were being held at Morenci on Wednesdays by Samuel, Jackie and Julia Madden. Samuel continued in conversations with the Bishop on plans for the church.

In December 2012, All Saints hired a new part-time vicar, Rev. Gail M. Carlsen who relocated from Tucson to Safford. The diocese asked her to hold monthly services in Morenci. Her first service in Morenci was on Christmas day, December 25, 2012 at 10:30am. There were twenty-two people in attendance including a few that come from All Saints with Rev. Carlsen. On Epiphany Sunday, January 6, 2013, the Rev. Timothy Dombek (Canon to the Ordinary at the diocese) visited Morenci and held Holy Eucharist. This was his first visit to Morenci and it was in response to Mr. Tachie-Menson’s request for the diocese to get more involved and come up with a plan for the congregation.

Rev. Carlsen held Holy Eucharist on the third Sunday of the month at 2pm from January to March 2013. On all other Sundays, Morning Prayer was held at 10:30am. In March 2013, the diocese appointed Rev. Allen Breckenridge as part-time vicar of Saints Philip and James. The diocese also arranged with the company to provide hotel accommodation for the priest during his visits. Fr. Allen lived in Tucson and spent two or three weekends a month in Morenci during which he celebrated Holy Eucharist and provided pastoral care to members of the congregation. He often came with his wife, Donna. Fr. Allen’s first service was on April 7, 2013 at 10:30am. This was also his 61st birthday. The congregation celebrated their new priest and his birthday after service. As of June 2013, Fr. Allen continues to be Vicar of Saints Philip and James and is working with the congregation to grow the ministry both spiritually and numerically. In-between Fr. Allen’s visits, morning prayers are held – Samuel Tachie-Menson, Jackie Hale, Julia Madden and Richard Ward share in leading morning prayers. The Bishop’s committee at this time is made up of Samuel Tachie-Menson, Senior Warden; Bill Cuthbertson, Junior Warden; and Suzanne Cuthbertson, Treasurer; and Jackie Hale, Clerk.

This narrative of the church’s history has been compiled from various sources including

  • Notes from Diocesan Convocations
  • Letters written by bishops, priests, lay people
  • Old Church Reports
  • Newspaper clippings
  • Previous write-ups of the church’s history
  • Oral narratives from past and present members

If you find any of this information to be incorrect, please send email to the church email address at the bottom of the page.

Chronological List of Priests and Lay leaders of Saints Philip and James

1902-1903Frederick Solomon Eastman Visited Clifton from Globe to do services every three months.
06/19/1912 – 11/4/1920Rev. J. Rockwood Jenkins (Archdeacon of AZ)Part-time. Visited from Phoenix to hold regular monthly services. Served Saint Philips and Saints James. Saint James met in Morenci Chapel, Morenci Hotel, High School, Morenci Club and Courthouse. Rev. Jenkins started the first Sunday school in Clifton on October 3, 1018.
12/5/1920 – 10/1921Rev. Benjamin Johnson DarniellePart-time rector. Lived in the new vicarage in Clifton.
10/1921 – 4/192Rev. J. R. Jenkins and Mr. Edward ClarkArchdeacon Jenkins covered the Clifton-Morenci churches with help from Mr. Clark, a lay reader from Tucson. Services were held every other week.
4/1/1922 – 4/1923Rev. W. E. BrownPart-time. He was licensed for work in Arizona. He lived in Clifton and served Morenci too.
4/1923 – 12/1924Rev. J. R. Jenkins and Mr. Edward ClarkAgain, Archdeacon Jenkins covered the Clifton-Morenci churches with help from Mr. Clark, a lay reader from Tucson. Services were held every other week.
11/12/1924- 10/12/1938Rev. Guy Oliver Theodore BrucePart-time rector. When the upper floor of the old Morenci High School was given to the church, Fr. Bruce was held the first service there with Bishop Walter Mitchell on March 11, 1928. During the 1930s depression when many people left town, Fr. Bruce was the only minister other than Catholic remaining. He attended to the needs of people from all denominations. He died suddenly on October 12, 1038. Bishop Mitchell praised him as being, “One of God’s saints and noblemen”
1/7/1939 – 9/1/1940Rev. Ernest C.TuthillPart-time rector
9/7/1940 – 7/29/1945Rev. Oliver Wallace NicklePart-time rector. Was assigned to serve Clifton, Morenci and Safford. He lived at the rectory in Clifton with his wife and four sons. When the rectory was sold, they moved to 18 Cedar in Stargo.
10/14/1945 – 9/15/1946Rev. Hector ThompsonPart-time rector. Assigned to serve Clifton, Morenci and Safford after Rev. Nickle resigned. Rev. Thompson also resigned n 1946.
6/1/1947 – 6/30/1948Rev. Henry Butler MoorePart-time rector. Appointed minister-in-charge of Morenci and Clifton. He resigned in 1948.
2/1/1949 – 6/30/1950Rev. John Donald DayPart-time rector. He resigned in June 1950 and was deposed by the Bishop the following month.
7/1/1950 – 10/1/1956Rev. J. W. DonaldsonPart-time rector. Served Safford too starting on December 1, 1950. He came from Canada with his wife and daughter. The lived in Stargo near Morenci. He resigned and transferred to California.
2/19/1956 – 3/11/1956Dave StevesSupply Lay Reader
3/17/1956 – 6/10/1956Bill LewisSupply Lay Reader. Bill Lewis and his wife Gwen continue to be members of All Saints, Safford.
10/7/1956 – 3/1957Rev. Robert G. TatumPart-time. Served Safford too. He came to Morenci with his niece Miss Mildred Love, who was helpful in buying a new organ for the church. Sunday school attendance jumped from seven in 1955 to twenty-two in 1957.
6/2/1957 – 6/1958Rev. Walter P. CrossmanPart-time supply priest. Lived in Safford and but was also responsible for Morenci
10/5/1958 – 10/26/1958Rev. W. Candless-ShannonPart-time supply priest from Saint John’s in Globe.
8/3/1958 – 11/22/1959Rev. James E. HayesPart-time rector. Served Safford too.
12/13/1959 – 2/21/1960Rev. James E. FosterPart-time
2/28/1960 – 6/12/1960Rev. George G. BillingsPart-time supply priest
6/19/1960 – 2/26/1964Rev. David E. PettengillFull-time rector. He came to Morenci with his wife, Lois and son, David. Combined Saint Philip and Saint James into Saints Philip and James. A-frame church in Morenci was built during his time. The church became in parish in October 1961 and he was rector. Left for Tucson in 1964.
3/15/1964 – 5/1/1966Rev. William H. L. WestPart-time rector. He lived in Morenci with his wife and son.
11/13/1966 – 7/1/1968Rev. Warren T. ErnestPart-time rector. Also served All Saints in Safford. He lived in Safford with his wife and two sons and came to Morenci a couple of days a week.
7/1/1968 – 2/1975Rev. Dr. John B. HannaFull-time rector. He came to live with his daughter, Mrs. Ruth Shaw, a high school teacher in Morenci.
9/1975 – 12/1977Rev. Vance VidalSupply priest from Safford
12/10/1977 – 2/22/1987Rev. Lee StevensFull-time rector. Served Safford from 9/1978 to 4/1982
3/8/1987 – 3/22/1987Rev. Frederick R. SmythePart-time. The church returned to mission status.
4/18/1987 – 1/13/1991Rev. Ken WilliamsPart-time
3/16/1991 – 3/28/1992Rev. B. A. (Bud) WilliamsPart-time. Started at Saint Luke’s in Wilcox and also served Safford from 4/1988 to 1/1994
4/2/1992 – 8/1/1993Rev. Derrick H, WedderburnFull-time rector. Came from Jamaica.
10/1993 – 5/1/2011Rev. Eugenia M. DurhamPart-time vicar. Served Safford and Morenci. Lived in Safford. Last service in Morenci was May 1, 2011. Continued to serve Safford until November 2011 when she retired and moved to Texas.
5/8/2011 – 3/18/2012 No services held at Saints Philip and James. Remaining families at Morenci joined All Saints Safford for services
3/25/2012 – 12/24/2012Samuel Tachie-MensonLay leader. Held morning and evening prayers.
12/25/2012 – 3/17/2013Rev. Gail M. CarlsenPart-time vicar for Safford. Held services once a month in Morenci
4/6/2013 – presentRev. Fr. Allen BreckenridgePart-time vicar for Morenci. Lives in Tucson and comes to Morenci two or three weekends in a month