The Episcopal Church

churchSt. James’s Episcopal

In 1831 a group of Episcopalians living on Shockoe Hill, petitioned Bishop Richard Channing Moore for permission to establish a new parish in what was then, the western most edge of Richmond. The Reverend Adam Empie, president of the College of William and Mary, was called to be rector in 1835. The first service was held in November, 1837 in the Sunday school building, which had been built in 1833, and the cornerstone for the main church was laid on April 2, 1838. Consecration services were held on June 23, 1839. St. James’s was the third Episcopalian church to be established in Richmond.

In 1854, the Reverend Doctor Joshua Peterkin, was called to service by the vestry. He was active in establishing many other churches in Richmond. During the Civil War, he ministered to Confederate soldiers. Two windows in the present church are memorials to communicants General J. E. B. Stuart, whose funeral service was held at the church, and Captain Sally Tompkins, who was the only woman officer in the Confederate Army. He died in 1891, and the brass pulpit, currently in use at the present church location, stands in his honor.

The gradual western movement of many communicants prompted the vestry to envision a new location, and this vision was realized in 1912, when the cornerstone of the present church was laid at Franklin and Birch streets. In 1926 the St. Andrew’s Chimes added to the new building, which ring at worship times on Sunday, as well as at noon, 3:00 pm, and 6:00 pm daily. The Reverend Richard Royal Baker III (in residence from 1951-1978) conceived the idea of the Stuart Circle Parish, established in 1970 with St. John’s United Church of Christ, First English Lutheran Church, Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, and Cathedral of the Sacred Heart “to be an instrument for common work and mutual inspiration.” His legacy also includes a strong tradition of lay person involvement in the leadership and pastoral services of the church, which is the inspiration of the moniker “doers” that the St. James’s congregation holds to this day. In 1982, the Children’s Center was established which serves as a preschool program for both handicapped and abled children.

In July of 1994 lightening struck the church and a great fire destroyed the roof and much of the interior of the building. The funds were raised to restore the church, and additional funds were used to build a parking deck.

The Congregation
St. James’s hosts a large congregation (1800+ members), which is characterized as theologically traditional, although moderate diversity exists and is welcomed amongst the leadership. The congregation consists of mostly middle and upper middle class families of all ages, and most congregates are of European descent. The church employs three full time ministers.

The services are generally of a high tradition, with a wide variety of musical and worship styles between the three services each Sunday. There is also an evening prayer service of a Wednesday and a healing service of a Tuesday. There is an annual mission trip for youth and adults, and an active adolescent youth group. Sunday education includes study for all ages.

St. James’s usually does two mission trips annually. One to Honduras for adults and youth, and a Youth Mission Trip.

St. James’s is involved in many projects aimed at serving the community in Richmond from
• CARITAS houses 35-40 homeless in the church for one week each year.• Five “Food Force” teams meet monthly to prepare and deliver meals for Freedom House.• Stuart Circle Parish Meal Ministry program prepares and serves meals to the hungry in the Stuart Circle Parish community.• The Mentoring Project – a tutoring and mentoring program for at-risk students at Whitcomb Court Elementary• Assisting Families of Inmates program, which prepares and serves a hot dinner for family members after they return from visiting an incarcerated loved one.

The Vestry of St. James’s allocates a significant amount of the church’s operating budget to be awarded to a variety of outreach programs in the community, including (but not limited to) • the Shepherd’s Center, • Meals on Wheels, • Central Virginia Food Bank, • Fan Free Clinic, • Peter Paul Development Center. The Episcopal Church Women (ECW) of St. James’s also raises funds through their annual Bazaar in November and allocates those funds to organizations in the community as well.

The motto of St. James’s comes from the Biblical passage “But be ye doers of the world, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.–James 1: 22” This lesson serves as the driving force behind the proactive practices of the congregation and vestry.

St. James’s Website at
Additional information provided by Ms. Anita Lisk- Parish Coordinator

1205 W. Franklin St.
Richmond, VA 23220
Telephone: 804-955-1779
Fax: 804-353-4837
Rector: Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith

Indexed by: Perry Threlfall (July 2005)

Updated: — 10:00 am

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