By Harold Fuller
Devine services were held for the first time in Hawthorne at the school house on April 15, 1883. The house was rather small for a meeting house and was so crowded that the publicans and sinners sat on benches or stood along the wall. The proceedings were strange to a great many but they paid strict attention to the service and joined in with the singing. As the tunes were generally unfamiliar, the sinners could not render much assistance, but one hymn, sung to the tune of Lily Dale received hearty support. One inexperienced church visitor was heard to remark, after dismissal “that was worth half a dollar to sing at church.” Although there were plenty of sinners in attendance there were no scoffers, and it was evident that a church was a feature many would like to see added to the town.
Among mining communities there seemed to be a prejudice against places of worship, so stated John Campbell of the “Walker Lake Bulletin”. Many had the idea that the building of a church was but the precursor of the decline of the camp. That this was an unfounded prejudice is shown by experience of Virginia City. The biggest Bonanza of all was not fully brought forth until after completion of two fine churches. Campbell went on to state that “ a church has never done any place any harm, and people should bear in mind that there is often as much bigotry in opposing religion as the opponents charge against the pious. Without assuming to have more than its share of godliness, the Bulletin would like to see a church established in Hawthorne, to show that while our houses are built upon the sand, the community is established upon the firm basis of faith in God and the belief in our future.”
Early religious services were held in this community, in private homes, the school, the old Knights of Pythias Hall and the old courthouse. During March 1890 the Chinese built a Joss House in Chinatown for religious use and invited the citizens of Hawthorne to attend but it was not until 1930, forty nine years after the towns founding, that the first Church was built in Hawthorne. This was Saint Phillips Episcopal Church, located at 7th and C Streets, which is now closed.