St. Thomas Episcopal
At the turn of the 20th century, the area in Richmond, known as Ginter Park, was a growing suburb developed by a wealthy tobacco merchant, Major Lewis Ginter. He envisioned his planned community as having schools, churches, and a community atmosphere. Upon his death, his niece, Miss Grace Arents, was instrumental in the development of St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church.
Miss Arents built a rectory and a school house with chapel for the new St. Thomas’ Mission. The first service was held May 17, 1907 with nineteen communicants. The vicar was The Rev. Frank Ridout appointed by the bishop at the request of Miss Arents. By the 1940’s, the congregation had reached 750 members, of whom 131 served in World War II and six gave their lives.
In 1961, the one-story complex to the north of the church grounds was constructed to provide additional office and Sunday School space, as well as a small chapel. The same year, the Day School was opened which continues to serve the community today. In 1967 The St. Thomas’ Endowment Fund was begun to provide financial security for the church.
St. Thomas views itself as a community based church, serving the homeless community of the area, and housing both an active preschool and private boys school in the building. With approximately 1000 members, the activities center around children and families. There are a variety of viewpoints at St. Thomas, but diversity is encouraged and celebrated. The services at St. Thomas are traditional, with traditional music and an Anglican liturgy. The congregations is characterized as theologically moderate to liberal.
St. Thomas holds an annual winter street festival, and an annual dinner/dance/auction for fundraising purposes. The services are in the high tradition, yet the theological viewpoint of the congregation is of the low church tradition. Centered in theological moderacy, the congregation is rich in diversity and openness.
Food Pantry: Assist in the organization and distribution of food through St. Thomas weekly food closetSt. Thomas’ distributed 18,965 tons of food in 2003; Saturday Morning Drop-In Ministry: The Drop-In Ministry serves the adult-home population on the North Side of Richmond. It provides a Saturday morning of fellowship, activities, and food for this population, and it welcomes and serves adult-home residents who attend worship at St. Thomas; Sewing Guild: Participate in the design and creation of baby quilts that are given to new babies in the church and donated to those in need; CARITAS: Congregations Around Richmond Involved to Assure Shelter. Help provide food and shelter (at the church) for homeless families during one week in December or January; Souper Bowl of Caring Sunday: Each year, St. Thomas joins 11,129 other churches and organizations around the country to raise funds for hunger projects. Proceeds are donated to Freedom House, an organization that serves homeless people in Richmond; SCAN: Greater Richmond SCAN (Stop Child Abuse Now)
Parish Retreat at Shrine Mont: The parish retreat is held in the fall at Shrine Mont; Annual Auction Fundraiser- The annual St. Thomas’ Gala Auction is held the Saturday before Lent begins each year; Hospitality Outreach: This ministry provides food to be taken to parishioners and guests during time of need;New Member Ministry: Participants in this ministry contact, welcome, and help nurture new members to our parish; Young Adults Group-Members of the group take turns leading an informal discussion. The group meets in each others’ homes for food, fun, and fellowship and take occasional side trips; Supper Clubs usually consist of 1012 parishioners who meetfor a meal once per month at each others’ houses on a rotating basis.
The St. Thomas website at www.stthomasrichmond.org
The Reverend Susan Eaves
3602 Hawthorne Avenue
Richmond, Virginia 23222
Rector: The Reverend Susan Eaves
Indexed by: Perry Threlfall (July 2005)