Statement from Diocese of Virginia on the Charleston Shooting

Today we grieve with our brothers and sisters in Charleston, South Carolina, as news of last night’s tragedy at Emmanuel AME Church continues to unfold.

We pray for all of those affected by this tragedy, for the nine lives lost, for the families now so deeply plunged into grief, for those who allow hate to prevent them from seeing humanity, and for a community now left to pick up the pieces. 

We stand with and offer our prayers for our brother, the Rt. Rev. Charles vonRosenberg , bishop of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, as he seeks to lead our Church’s witness and ministry in that land with strength and understanding.  

The tragedy in Charleston reminds us yet again the importance of our diocesan work on racial reconciliation. This work that began in April with the first three Hand-in-Hand Listening Sessions and will continue this fall with additional sessions. 

We as a diocese are especially suited, and divinely charged, to be facilitators of reconciliation, both within our own walls and in the broader community.

As we witness this tragedy and the many instances of racially motivated violence in our nation, may we serve as agents of change and as pillars of strength and comfort for all involved. 

A prayer for social justice:

Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Expanding Saint James’ through its History

View of Saint James' c. 1912.
View of Saint James’ c. 1929.

Looking Back: Growth and Enlargement of Saint James’

Historically – since the doors to Saint James’ were opened in 1853 on Culpeper Street, there have been four major enlargements to the building complex; the most recent was 50 years ago.  They are:

1874 – Extension of the main body of the church by 18 feet, to which a recessed chancel was added; church capacity increased by 100 sittings.

1929 – A new and commodious Parish House was built.

1949 – Removal of wall separating Chapel and the main body of the Church.

1966 – The Education Wing built for the Sunday School, Children’s Chapel, choir rooms, meeting rooms, offices.

Previous essays have dwelt on the 1874 and 1949 improvements; this essay focuses on the 1929 Parish House.


The Spilman Memorial Parish House

In 1920, when the Rev. Paul D. Bowden took charge of the parish, the property consisted of the church building, a small parish house, and a rectory; on the latter there was a debt of $9,000.  In 1921, there was a threat of a beer hall and night club to be built on the vacant lot next to the church.  Fortunately, a parishioner, Mr. Preston, bought and made a gift of the property to Saint James’, on the condition that a new Parish House would be built for the Sunday School.  There was considerable pressure on the Vestry to meet this obligation, but it delayed action for some years on account of the rectory debt.

In 1926, General Baldwin Day Spilman died.  He had long served as vestryman; he with his family, had been faithful members and supporters of Saint James’  In 1927, his widow wrote to the Vestry of her – and the family’s wish – to give a  new Parish Hall to the church in General Spilman’s memory.  The offer was accepted and the new Parish House was completed in April 1929.  The architect, Irwin Fleming, designed the building in the Tudor Revival style with a cloister-like porch on the side.  Within the porch is a bronze tablet bearing the inscription:

“To the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of Baldwin Day Spilman /Erected by his Family. 1928.”

On the formal opening and dedication, it was written:  “A large congregation assembled for the opening service, which consisted of a simple religious service and dedicatory prayer by the Rector.  Bishop Tucker (The Rt. Rev. Henry St. George Tucker) then made an address, accepting the building on behalf of the parish and the entire church.  He referred to General Spilman and his deep interest in all church affairs, and special desire that the parish should have a house of this kind.

“At the close of the Bishop’s talk, all present went through the building, inspecting and admiring it, and delicious refreshments were served by the Ladies’ Aid, tables being set in the porch and on the lawn.”

General Spilman (1853-1926) was the son of Judge and Mrs. Edwin M. Spilman of Warrenton.  He was appointed to West Point by Col. John S. Mosby.  Later, he was a veteran of the so-called “Indian Wars,” and called by the governor of West Virginia to improve the National Guard.  Spilman commanded a West Virginia regiment in the Spanish-American War.  It was written, “He was every inch a soldier and a man.  He was even more the latter than the word carries – he was a gentleman.”

In retirement, General Spilman built “Elway Hall,” then the largest house in Fauquier County – completed in 1907 outside Warrenton, where he and Mrs. Spilman lived the rest of their lives, and raised their children.

Postcard depicting Saint James' c. 1913.
Postcard depicting Saint James’ c. 1913.

More about General Convention 2015

Below is a letter written to the parishioners of Emmanuel, Delaplane by their rector, Rev. Amanda Knouse. (her husband, John, is our new Director of Family Ministries at Saint James’)

Dear Emmanuel,

I have always believed that a healthy and vibrant congregation is an informed one. Recognizing that we are part of something bigger than ourselves and paying attention to important events and happenings in The Episcopal Church is just one of our responsibilities as members.

In less than a week, bishops, priests, deacons, and laity from all 109 dioceses who make up the Episcopal Church will gather in Salt Lake City, Utah for General Convention. They will worship together, elect a new presiding bishop, work through resolutions and budgets, and continue the work of re-imaging the Episcopal Church.

This year, I’d like to invite you to participate in this important gathering. I’m including in this email two attachments and various links that I hope you will find useful. The first attachment is a booklet that explains the purpose and breakdown of General Convention. It’s a very easy read. (read it here)

The second attachment includes a biography of each of the 4 nominees for Presiding Bishop. I encourage you to pray for each of these gifted and qualified candidates.  Pray, also, for the Spirit to move among the hearts of those who will elect our next leader. (read it here)

Lastly, I’m including the following links which address different aspects of Convention. This is going to be what I would consider a “church changing convention.” So, please join me as we witness and participate in the resurrection of The Episcopal Church. – this includes an abundance of information about resolutions, nominees, the budget, and worship – Written by members of the Diocese of VA, the centeraisle will include numerous blog posts about convention – This is the media hub for Convention. You can view the livestream during legislative sessions, worship, and press roundups –  The Acts8 Moment is a Missionary Society made of lay and clergy members of the Episcopal Church and was formed during the last General Convention. Follow prophetic voices in the Episcopal Church as they share their insights, stories, and ideas on changing the conversation in The Episcopal Church from death to resurrection.

I remain faithfully yours,

Amanda +

What on earth is the General Convention?

general convention pano

You may have heard something about the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, which starts next week. But what is it? 

Basically, bishops, and elected members of the clergy and laity the Episcopal Church (The arm of the Anglican Communion consisting of the United States, as well as 15 other nations) gather as a legislative body every three years.

This year’s convention is particularly important, as attendees will elect a new Presiding Bishop for the entire Church. He or she will serve nine years and replace the Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, who has served as Presiding Bishop for the last nine years.

The convention this year will be held in Salt Lake City from June 25th through July 3rd.

This is an extremely important event and time for the Episcopal Church. From the national Church down to each parish, we are grappling with our relationship with the worldwide Anglican Communion, our responsibilities to the disenfranchised and to the oppressed both in America and abroad, the nature and effect of ecumenical efforts both within our church and from other faith groups, and how best to reflect the love and do the work of Christ in this time in history and with the resources we possess.

The next Presiding Bishop, in particular, will have to be a spokesperson for Christ in the world, and this convention must wrestle with poignant issues which affect our national Church.

You are the church – be informed! Here are some resources: 

A Great time was had by all at our 1st Annual Parish Retreat!!

Shrine MontShrine@ ShrineMont

We went to Shrine Mont, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia’s Conference Center, nestled in the mountains roughly 90 minutes from Warrenton in historic Orkney Springs. We arrived in time for dinner on Friday, June 12th, and departed following lunch on Sunday. We stayed in beautiful cottages with spacious porches, enjoyed delicious food and beverage, and participated in the myriad of activities from swimming, volleyball, tennis, great hiking, a labyrinth, and planned group activities. We relaxed with new and old friends. We worshiped Sunday morning in our diocesan cathedral, the beautiful outdoor Shrine of the Transfiguration. For more about Shrine Mont visit their website: 

If you missed it, sign up next year!! It was GREAT FUN!!

Improvements to our Audio-Visual Equipment

vb-1Recently, we’ve been able to make some major improvements to our sound system!

Last week a sound engineer spent two days in the church installing a number of upgrades to our system. Sound will always be a work in progress given our church’s architecture, but along with last year’s improvements, the quality should be noticeably better. Let Fr. Ben know what you experience.

Here are the recent improvements:

New amplifier and mixer – This brings our entire audio rack (the black box in the side chapel) up to current digital standards, which will improve the quality of the sound as well as provide more channels for additional microphones. The entire audio system is now controlled by software on a new dedicated iPad which operates from a new Wi-Fi router. This iPad allows us to adjust the sound in real time from anywhere in the nave.

New transmitter for our Hearing Assistance Equipment – This new transmitter sends a stronger signal to our four individual devices, which are stored in the front of the nave near the roll top video desk. Each device can be used with a simple ear plug or it can be used with a “T-coil” loop which works well with digital hearing aids. Ushers will provide them for you, and let Nancy know if you would like someone to help you use these devices.

Two additional microphones and stands – These will greatly amplify our children’s voices when they sing, as well as be used for individual musicians who need amplification.

Side Chapel speaker – This speaker has not worked for years, however with the extra channels now available, this speaker was able to be connected and is operational.

Lyn’s microphone – Everybody had heard its annoying crackle. The sound engineer was able to isolate the problem, and the ear piece is being replaced (under warranty!).

Finally, all of these significant improvements were made possible through the same generous gift that enabled last year’s upgrades and video installation. The enhanced sound and video ministry have exceeded expectations with a broader reach and application than originally envisioned.



Welcome back to Saint James’ Softball!

Thank you to everyone who has tracked us down asking about summer coed softball. We are working to have a short series of ‘exhibition’ games against local opponents later this summer.

First up will be a double header against the Church of Latter Day Saints on Tuesday night, July 14, starting at 6:15pm.  We’ll play two games that night – one hour each.  If your schedule does not allow for the 6:15start time, come out for the second game and we’ll work you into the lineup.

We’ve also set a double header with our cross-town rivals, Oak View National Bank, on Tuesday night, July 21, starting at 6:15pm.

After the second game each week, we will adjourn to Foster’s Grille in Warrenton for fun and fellowship (and ice and ibuprofen!)

We are working to secure a few other games, possibly some on Sunday afternoons for those who cannot make a weeknight game.  More information to follow when those dates are announced.

Games will be played at Taylor Middle School in Warrenton – close to the church with plenty of parking and a playground for the kids.

As in previous years, we have an age-limit of 14 and up for safety reasons.  Even though it’s slow pitch, the balls come off the bat pretty hard and we don’t want any injuries.  There’s no upper age limit though, so let’s find the all of the octogenarian players hiding in our pews – No experience necessary!

Make sure to pass this along to anyone from the church or school who you think would be interested in playing.

Please let either Debbi or I know if you are able to play on these dates so we can get a head count.  

Find your gloves, cleats, and bats and plan to join us at the fields – PLAY BALL! 

— Colin and Debbi Borgstrom  

540.270.3285 (Colin’s Cell), 540.270.4249 (Debbi’s Cell)  

540.351.0113 (Home)

Proposed Building Expansion: What, Where & When

Capture (1)

WHAT: The main door from Culpeper Street will return predominantly to church space. Signicant proposed changes include the addition of a ramp, elevator, larger accessible restrooms, flower guild room, altar guild room, additional office space, and a music wing with instrument room (where bell rehearsals will take place), and larger rehearsal and changing area for choir. Proposed for the lower level, the space will be recongured to provide additional school offices, the children’s chapel restored, and an entry area added to enhance security and provide a clear point of welcome. The basement level will remain relatively unchanged.

WHERE: The proposed expansion is roughly 9,200 square feet elbowing from the end of the 1966 expansion (far stairwell) toward 3 rd street. The hallway will run along the fence, which currently separates the parking lot from the playground. We intend to move the playground over below the black top and continue to use the neighboring property for an open play area already fenced and replete with swings. The main door will provide seven classrooms, a library, and a meeting room in addition to storage and restrooms. The basement level will provide potential recreation space .

WHEN: If the project is determined feasible, we envision construction beginning in the Fall of 2017 after completion of a successful capital campaign. Renovation of our existing space would follow expansion, and the project should be complete by the Fall of 2018. At this point, the scope suggests an estimated cost of between $2 and $4 million.

Again this is the proposed vision of the vestry and school board and will be further shaped and made possible by you and our collective community.  Please reach out to a vestry member, school board member, Stacey Irvin our Head of School, or Fr. Ben to learn more.

(from the vestry)

History of Saint James’: Building Enlargement, 1949-1950

Early Nave picture

1949-1950 Project for the Enlargement of Saint James’ Church

In light of present day proposed improvements to the church, it is interesting to note a previous project:

The Chapel, as we know it today, was originally designed and used as a parish hall.  An inner door led into the church proper.  In 1929, with the gift and construction of the large, new parish house, the original parish hall was subsequently converted into a chapel, although still separated from the main church by a wall.

Twenty years later, in 1949, a Committee on Renovation, composed of nine members, and with Vestry approval, saw the needs of a growing congregation and proposed to the congregation a plan for enlarging the seating capacity of the church by removing the intervening wall, and thereby opening the arches so that one space flowed into the other.  The proposal included other work that needed to be done.

A brochure, explaining the proposal and the costs involved, was sent to all parishioners.  Apparently, some members were concerned about the preservation of the beauty and architectural integrity of the original church.  However, sufficient support allowed the project to proceed.

On April 27, 1950, on completion of the work, journalist M. Louise Evans wrote:

“The alterations which have been recently completed and which even those who were opposed to the changes have agreed are most pleasing to the eye, were really necessary, owing to the increased membership and attendance at the church, and in the opinion of your Old Timer, largely due to the present rector Rev. Paul D. Bowden.

“With the attendance from the two (private) schools, the church has been taxed to seat the congregation on many occasions and the far-seeing rector and vestry undertook the changes.  It has been well done and certainly presents a mellowed and graceful picture and as someone aptly put it ‘looks as though it had always been that way’.”

Compiled by the History Committee, June 2015

A Look Back at Saint James’ in the late 19th Century

A photo of the nave taken in the 1890s.
A photo of the nave taken in the 1890s.

Assuming the Rectorship

Statements recorded in the Parish Register by newly arriving rectors

To review – Until the 1960s, it was the practice of the new rector to write a statement in the Parish Register of his findings on arrival at Saint James’ Church.  The earliest such record was written on May 15, 1876 by the Rev. John S. Lindsay, and carried in this series of essays on March 22, 2015.  The following entry was written by his successor, the Rev. George Washington Nelson ten years into his ministry:

Mr. Nelson –

“I succeeded the Rev. John S. Lindsay as Rector of this Parish and took charge on the 1st Sunday in January 1880.  The official acts of my Ministry from January 1880 to the first Sunday in Advent 1889 are recorded in the Parish Register begun by Rev. J. S. Lindsay.

“The debt remaining upon the church for the enlargement under Rev. J. S. Lindsay was all paid in 1884 and the church is now free from debt.  This book is opened the 1st Sunday in Advent 1889.  The first recorded act is the Baptism of Heyward North Spilman on the 23rd day of December 1889.

            Geo. W. Nelson, Rector

Jan 1st. 1890”

Oct. 18th, 1898 (a further entry) –

“Rt. Rev. R. A. Gibson, Bishop Co-adjutor consecrated “Christ Church” Chapel at Baldwin’s Ridge.                Geo. W. Nelson, Rector.”


Note: As to the debt noted above, in 1874 – only 9 years after the Civil War, Saint James’ was enlarged during Dr. Lindsay’s ministry.  The main body of the building was extended 18 feet, to which a recessed chancel was added (see early photo).  The capacity of the church was increased by 100 sittings.
The entire chancel, its furnishings, and the triplet stained glass window (a memorial lost in the fire of 1910), were given by Dr. David C. Gordon (1836-1917) of “Dixie” on Culpeper Street – now known as ‘Menlough.”  He engaged a young Baltimore architect, T. B. Ghequiere, to design the chancel.  Some of the furnishings survived the 1910 fire and remain in use today, e.g., the lectern, as seen in the photograph.

Education at Saint James’ Episcopal Church

“Follow Me”
Education at Saint James’ Episcopal Church

Saint James’ Episcopal School is about to graduate its first Fifth Grade Class. This is a major milestone for the School and another educational landmark in the long history of Saint James’ Episcopal Church. From 1929 to 2015 Saint James’ Episcopal Church has housed and fostered education, not only on Sundays as is traditional, but during the week, raising generations of young people who practice the Christian virtues of service, compassion, and respect.

The Warrenton branch of the Calvert School, founded in 1928, was housed at Saint James’ from 1929 to 1943 with the support of the Rev. Paul Bowden. Several members of Saint James’ Church today were also students during this time. Deeply woven into our education was our connection to God and to the Church. We recited The Lord’s Prayer in assembly each day and at Christmas we always had a Nativity pageant. Our monthly recitations were often drawn from Scripture; as First Graders our assignment one month was the opening chapter of Genesis and we each stood in church holding rather naïve drawings of the days of creation and reciting the appropriate verse. The Calvert School left Saint James’ in 1943 and in 1957 its name was changed to Highland School; however, their eighth grade graduation ceremonies continued to be held at Saint James’ until early in this century.

From 1978 to 1982, Fresta Valley Christian School used Saint James’ as its campus.  The school had grown from six to 28 students and needed more space with little funding.  The Church graciously offered the use of its campus until our own preschool was established.

A preschool opened at Saint James’ in 1982 under the guidance of Rev. Prentice Kinser and vestry members of the Church. With four classes and a staff of five, the School eventually grew to more than eleven classes and 150 preschool students. Often voted “The Best Preschool in Warrenton,” it continued to thrive and shared more and more space within the Church. As early alumni grew up and married, many sent their children to Saint James’ Preschool. In 2007, during the tenure of the Rev. Christian Pierce, a kindergarten class was introduced and the School changed its name to Saint James’ Episcopal School (SJES). First grade was added in 2010 with an additional grade each year up to Fifth Grade in 2014-15. Saint James’ was accredited by the Virginia Association of Independent Schools in the fall of 2013 and is a proud member of the National Association of Episcopal Schools.

When Calvert School moved on to a new location, it had 39 students in grades one through seven. SJES today has 206 students in preschool through fifth grade.  Education continues to be an integral part of the fabric of Saint James’ Church. At this time, SJES classrooms occupy all three floors of the building.  The Parish Hall is the location for hot lunches several days a week and for plays at special times during the year.  Services are conducted daily in the Side Chapel and on Wednesdays both School and Church members celebrate Holy Communion together. Students enrolled in SJES serve at the altar as torch-bearers and crucifers for Sunday services and as junior altar guild members for occasional services.

The motto of the School, “Follow Me,” is the injunction given to all of us by Christ. The Pioneers, as the first Fifth Grade Class is known, stepped out into the unknown, saying “Follow Me,” and now successive classes will do just that until, one hopes, elderly members of Saint James’ Church will say, “I remember” and recount their years of education within these sacred spaces.

Aileen Laing, Calvert School Class of 1948

Favorite Hymns…on 3rd Sundays

This summer we are asking the congregation to submit Favorite Hymns to sing on the 3rd Sunday of each month this summer! (June 21, July 19, & Aug 16). There is a box in the hall in which you can put your requests for favorites. Several kinds of hymnals from various denominations are also available to help you with your selection. Just fill out a card with your hymn(s) & put it inside the box, and perhaps you will hear it on a 3rd Sunday!

From the Vestry – Why Should We Build?

 From the Vestry – Why Should We Build? (Part 2 of 4) 

Can we exist as we are? Yes, but we cannot fully thrive and be the best representation of who we are. This expansion is predominantly about living fully into who we are right NOW. 

We are an institution committed to the town of Warrenton and Fauquier County, but we lack the space to say “Yes” to all that is asked of us much less reach out and invite support groups or proactively meet community needs. We are a community committed to inclusion. We beautifully represent the spectrum of age, backgrounds, ideologies, and we are committed to extravagant welcome. 

We treasure all of our members, especially our aged and infirm. However, our church plant defines how far that hospitality and care extends. Someone in a wheelchair can attend worship or make his or her way into our parish hall but cannot use our restrooms or access our program areas. Ramps, restrooms with entrances, stalls, and turning areas ample enough for a wheelchair, and an elevator would drastically express God’s open arms. 

Our music ministry has flourished while the spaces available to them have shrunk dramatically. In order to continue to enjoy the fruits of a vibrant talented music program we need appropriate facilities. 

Our formation groups and committees squeeze into insufficient space or gather in the cavernous parish hall. The proposed project would dedicate specifically designed space to enable vibrant large, medium, and small group discussions. 

Our school has committed to remaining a Pre-Kindergarten through 5th grade Episcopal School. The number of proposed classrooms reflect far more the desire to return space to the church and to have space appropriate for the age of their older students than room for additional growth. The addition would keep space from limiting the effectiveness of our programing and impeding opportunities such as our preschool initiative. The expansion would allow our children’s chapel to be restored, and free space for the aforementioned church improvements to be possible.

As you can see, the vision that necessitates this project is not a fuzzy optimistic hope but one already being realized. Again, please seek members of the vestry, school board, our Head of School, or our clergy to learn more and express your thoughts.

Volunteers Needed – for Summer Coffee Hour

Volunteers Needed: After Sunday, June 7th – it’s summer vacation for our hard-working Cafe’ crew. A sign-up sheet has been posted on the bulletin board asking for volunteers from our various ministries and/or individuals in the church to supply snacks for “Coffee Hour” following the 10:15 a.m. service. Please sign-up to bring cookies, donuts or similar (approx. 2 dozen) to the Parish Hall. If you have questions, please contact Patti Reid or Nancy Duggan. Thank you.


Saint James’ Possibilities

Saint James’ Possibilities 

Saint James’ Episcopal Church is turning 200 years old next year and we are not just looking back but contemplating our place in her story, the contribution we will leave for the generations to come. 

While we have certainly done yeoman’s work shoring up our current plant, 2016 will also mark fifty years since our last significant expansion and renovation. 

The leadership of the church and school has been studying our current needs and possibilities and envision beginning our next 200 years with a facility that is accessible to all and equipped for the ministry of today and tomorrow.
This would include: 

An elevator, ramps, and larger fully accessible restrooms to allow full accessibility to all.  Fresh updated bathrooms would also include changing tables.

Ample meeting spaces equipped for audio/visual presentations.

A music wing that would allow instrument space for bell rehearsals, room for choir rehearsals, changing areas, music storage.

Flower guild room and an expanded sacristy.

A nursery located closer to worship area.

Rededication of children’s chapel.

Sufficient office space for church staff. 

In addition, the vision under consideration also provides the space for Saint James’ Episcopal School to continue to thrive in harmony with the growing church community. 

Please help us discover what is possible at Saint James’.   Engage a member of the vestry or Fr. Ben with your questions and your dreams for tomorrow

Stay tuned for additional pieces regarding why we believe this project is critical to our future, the logistics (when/what/where?)  of what is being discerned and the fruitful partnership b/n the church and school that has us entering the next century on uniquely remarkable footing.

Vestry Minutes April 27, 2015

St. James’ Church
Vestry Minutes April 27, 2015

  • The Treasurer reported that we are in good financial condition with both plate and pledges coming in a bit over budget… but don’t let the summer months get us behind! 
  • Two new swing sets have been added to the playground and two new water fountains replace the old, broken ones. Trim painting on the church, the lattice work on the bell tower, and the shutters of the Residence will begin soon as will the repair and renovation of the windows in the church clerestory. 
  • There will be two bishop visitations this year. Bishop Johnston will come on May 31 to confirm the adult class before he goes on sabbatical. Bishop Gulick will come in the fall to confirm the younger group when they have completed their confirmation classes. 
  • Constant Contact has been introduced and will be administered by the Parish Administrator. With this program the congregation can be kept informed from any location, especially important during inclement weather when events must be rescheduled or cancelled and the office is closed. 
  • The last major renovation of the church facilities was 50 years ago and many areas need to be updated and expanded to accommodate our growing population. Since 2007 St. James has grown by 31% while the national church is down by over 10%, an increase that coincides with the opening of the school in 2006-7. We should also be proud of our demographics; we are a very young church unlike most in the diocese. 
  • The Vestry approved the School budget for 2015-16 and also approved the slate of nominations to the School Board. 
  • The real estate left to St. James in Tom Moore’s estate is being prepared for sale. 

        Aileen H. Laing