In September, Grace Church, Casanova, will celebrate its beginning 150 years ago at the close of the Civil War in 1865. Grace Church, familiar to many, is located 8 miles from Warrenton on the Old Carolina Road and lies on land of the King Carter grant. The congregation first assembled for worship in a brush arbor close to the sight of the present church.
At the time, the rector of Saint James’ Church, the Rev. James. R. Hubbard, D.D., wrote, “A new congregation has been organized in the Parish (Hamilton), and services are held regularly twice a month at Emmanuel Chapel, recently built…. This is a most important and encouraging work. It is a neighborhood where a church has long been needed, and where the services of our Church are very earnestly desired. It is impossible, for the Rector (Dr. Hubbard himself), in addition to his other parochial duties, to bestow upon this new and important enterprise the time, services and care it demands; and it has become necessary to have the services of an assistant minister in the parish, with special reference to carry on this work.”
Later, at the Diocesan Council of 1871, Hamilton Parish was divided and Emmanuel Parish formed from it. Thus, after 6 years of being connected with Saint James’ and Hamilton Parish, Emmanuel Chapel became Grace Church, Emmanuel Parish. Currently, Grace Church is in Cedar Run Parish, with a sister parish, St. Stephen’s Church, Catlett.
There are further parallels between Saint James’ and Grace, two of which are noted here:
(1) the Rev. Edwin S. Hinks served as rector of Saint James’ from 1908-1913, and later as rector of Grace Church from 1927-1932.
(2) misfortune struck Saint James’ in 1910 when the church and parish house were destroyed by fire; Grace Church burned in 1908; its rectory burned in 1911. At that time, the building, now the Parish House, was used as a wintertime church, located in the village of Casanova – with the rectory next door. Regarding the latter, Betty Gookin’s grandfather, G. Thurston Williams, lived close by at “Rockhill,” Casanova. He wrote on February 6, 1911, “Our rectory burnt up last night and is now nothing but a heap of smoking ashes. The fire originated in the dining room. The parson, Mr. Mayers*, was upstairs sick in bed with a bad cold; Mrs. Mayers was upstairs with the children in bed; they were saved out of the upstairs window; they escaped with little more than their lives. The Rector and his family were taken in by the Williams at Rockhill.
Our parish takes this opportunity to renew the bonds of affection and closeness toward our sister parish as it celebrates a joyful sesquicentennial. We at Saint James’ will celebrate our bicentennial in 2016 and hope that Grace Church will join us at an event marking that important milestone.
* The Rev. D. Campbell Mayers, Rector of Grace Church 1909-1915