Fr Ben’s Year-End Message

As we enter the last month of our bicentennial year, I find myself quite reflective. One particular thought has occupied my time, especially as we step back and participate in liturgies from the 1789 Book of Common Prayer. In a world so different than the one of our church founders how is our role in the community, our mission changing?

When Saint James’ first opened her doors, James Madison was president, we had only 18 states, and Edison’s light bulb was still over 60 years from conception as was the invention of the phonograph. Imagine the role the church played in that community. What happened each Sunday at Saint James’ was in all likelihood the most significant cultural and social event of the week. The church had little competition on Sunday morning (or any other day of the week for that matter). Imagine the transcendent beauty of listening to the organ and raising your voice in harmony with the gathered faithful prior to radio, records, tapes, cd’s, much less iPods and streaming music…. Contemplate the power of a well-crafted and delivered sermon in an age without film, television, or the internet. The church truly was the center of a community’s life.

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The 1789 Book of Common Prayer

At a service during the bicentennial year, the rite of Holy Communion will be read from the 1789 edition of the American Book of Common Prayer, as used when Saint James’ Church was established in Warrenton in 1816. During the intervening two-hundred years, there have been three revisions of the Prayer Book – the most recent of which was in 1979. The order of service has changed, but much of the eloquent language remains familiar throughout the various revisions.

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Resolution Commending Richard Gookin

Editor’s Note: The following resolution was presented to Richard Gookin, history committee chair, on the occasion of our 200th Anniversary Service.  We are certain that you share the vestry’s gratitude to Richard for his considerable work. You can browse Richard’s informative and entertaining essays here.

Whereas Richard Gookin has served as chair of the Saint James’ History Committee for 20 years, providing thoughtful leadership, thorough research and organization, and a passion for preserving, honoring, and sharing the church’s story;

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History of Saint James’: The Book of Common Prayer

title_pageThe Book of Common Prayer – Its Constancy and Adaptations

Early in our 2016 Bicentennial observance, the liturgy at the main services will be from the 1789 1st American Book of Common Prayer, which was in use in 1816 when Saint James’ Church was established in Warrenton.  Since then, there have been three revisions of the American Book of Common Prayer, the latest in 1979.

Early History

The first Book of Common Prayer was published in London on March 7, 1549.  Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556), the first Protestant archbishop of Canterbury, put the English Bible in parish churches, drew up the Book of Common Prayer and composed a litany that remains in use today.  Cranmer, and like-minded Reformers, insisted that in presenting Christ, obscure languages and rites (e.g.,  Latin) should not stand in the way of allowing people to “hear, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest” sacred truths.  His commitment to English translations of the Bible made it accessible to people in a way it had never been before.  Denounced for promoting Protestantism by the Catholic Queen Mary I, he was convicted of heresy and burned at the stake.  Cranmer left a profound legacy that has come down through the ages.

Modern Times, and development of experimental liturgy in contemporary language 

The American Book of Common Prayer has seen several revisions since its adoption from the Church of England’s prayer book – in 1892, 1928 and 1979 – and not without controversy; however, each revision has provided continuity with the past.  Leading up to the 1979 edition now in use, parishes were introduced to proposed changes as early as 1971.  At Saint James, a liturgy committee was formed by the Rector, the Rev. David Greer, to study the proposals.  For the next 8 years, trial services were held, usually once a month, alternating Rite 1 with Rite 11.  Meetings were held with representatives from Virginia Seminary and the church’s Liturgical Commission; questionnaires were sent to parishioners.

During Lent in 1976, the Piedmont region held a series of Eucharists utilizing ancient forms and more recent practice.  After each service a priest gave a talk pertinent to the form of worship.  The first service was held at Saint James’ in a “catacomb” church at the lowest level of the Education Wing – armed Roman soldiers patrolled Beckham and Culpeper Streets, a password had to be given at the lowest entrance to gain admission.  Curtains were drawn; the only light was a candle on the Communion table.  The service was brief: the words of institution given by our Lord; the communicants received morsels of homemade bread and wine.

The second service was held at Emmanuel Parish House, Middleburg, where stage sets depicted a 4th century basilica.  As Emperor Constantine had made Christianity legitimate (A.D. 330), this service was much longer, with singing.  The third service was at St. Peter’s Purcellville, using an early, mystical, liturgy.   A sheer curtain separated priests and servers from clear view.

At Trinity, Washington, Va., the fourth service was in the form of an Anglo-Saxon Gallic liturgy as might have been held in a 10th century monastery – the choir dressed as monks and singing plain chant.  The fifth service was at Trinity, Upperville (the “Cathedral” of the Region) for a High Mass of the late Middle Ages, according to the Sarum Rite.  There were numerous clergy and servers, a sanctus bell, incense and pax board.

The sixth service was at Leeds, Markham, celebrating Communion such as might have been at colonial Jamestown, using the 1552 Prayer Book.  A seventh service, held at St. Stephen’s Catlett employed the 1928 Prayer Book, with instruction.  For the eighth and final service, a Folk Mass was held at St. James’, Leesburg, using the Great Thanksgiving from Rite II of the new Prayer Book (1979).

At the 1979 General Convention, the revised Prayer Book was adopted.  In May 1980, the Vestry of Saint James’ Church voted to begin using the new Prayer Book at all services and to retire the 1928 Book.

– compiled by Richard Gookin, History Committee, January 2016

History of Saint James’: Anniversary Discourse on Hamilton Parish


by THE REV. JOHN S. LINDSAY, Rector, St. James’ Church, Warrenton, Virginia, August 6, 1876

Lindsay, JohnAs our Bicentennial Year 2016 draws nearer, it is timely to recall the eloquent words of the Rev. John S. Lindsay, rector 1871-1879, in an address delivered on the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, and the 60th year of Saint James’ Church.  Mr. Lindsay’s scholarly work, based on his research into the parish’s history up to that time, ends with a prophetic view of the future. The text is elegant and formal with Victorian sentiment; it is reverent, spiritual, highly informative – and delightful.  Its 15 pages are recommended reading as we, too, look to our past, present, and future – just as he did.  There follows a partial extract from page 8, conveying his faith and that of a parishioner in the rite of Confirmation.

“The first Episcopal visitation (by a bishop) to this parish was made by Bishop Moore in the year 1815 at Turkey Run Church (a year before St. James’ was founded).  He then confirmed fifty persons.  The melting sermon of the Bishop, the large congregation, the numerous candidates for confirmation, and all the incidents of the occasion were deeply impressive.  In the class that assembled around the chancel on that day and received the Apostolic rite of ‘the laying on of hands’ was a young girl of eighteen summers  (Catherine Horner, future mother of Captain John Quincy Marr of Confederate fame).

“Sixty one years have passed away, and with them the Bishop who administered the Holy rite, and his two successors, and perhaps every other member of that class except that young girl, who survives, an aged woman, her head whitened by nearly eighty winters, her powers failing, and memory dropping from its relaxing fingers, one by one, the objects it once firmly held, and yet  holding with a grasp that time cannot break the recollection of that day and that hour, and that rite, and in the hope then first kindled, going down calmly to the grave.  As we to-day turn our eyes to her quiet home, hard by, (the John Quincy Marr house nearby at 118 Culpeper Street), we devoutly pray that when she shall come to the end of life, as soon she must, her sun may set in a cloudless sky—sure, sweet presage of a clear, bright tomorrow. “


Mr. Lindsay then describes the period following Bishop Moore’s 1815 visit as the Revival of the Virginia Church when “she began to lengthen her cords and strengthen her stakes….”  He recounts the beginnings of Saint James’ Church, its development over the next 60 years, and its place in Warrenton and the community.

(to be continued)

History of Saint James’: Ministers and Rectors

Leading up to the 2016 bicentennial year of Saint James’ Church, the History Committee has submitted, thus far, 32 essays on the parish’s rich past.  From the start, the Committee offered to furnish an essay for each Sunday’s bulletin and weekly news – 52 in all.  The essays are meant to stimulate interest through vignettes of earlier times, not to encapsulate all of the parish’s long and remarkable history.  Several essays have touched on the ministries and personalities of former senior clergy.  These were Messrs. Keith, Lemmon, Barten, Lindsay, Nelson, and Laird.  From time to time, future essays will continue in that vein.  Fuller pictures of these clerics, distinguished on the whole, can be the subject of a future project.

At this juncture, it may be useful for readers to have a listing of names and dates of the 19 ministers and rectors of our parish and church, while they served in that capacity.

Ministers of Hamilton Parish (est. 1730)

  • The Rev. James Keith                                    1733-1751
  • The Rev. John Brunskill, Jr.                        1753-1757
  • The Rev. James Craig                                    1762-1800
  • The Rev. Charles O’Neil                                1800-1806

Rectors of Saint James’ Church (1816-present)

  • The Rev. George Lemmon                            1816-1846
  • The Rev. George Hatley Norton, D.D.        1846-1856
  • The Rev. Otto S. Barten                                 1859-1865
  • The Rev. James R. Hubbard, D.D.              1866-1871
  • The Rev. John S. Lindsay                              1871-1879
  • The Rev. George W. Nelson                          1880-1903
  • The Rev. William H. Laird                            1904-1908
  • The Rev. Edwin S. Hinks                               1908-1913
  • The Rev. William G. Pendleton                     1913-1920
  • The Rev. Paul D. Bowden                              1920-1963
  • The Rev. David J. Greer                                 1964-1980
  • The Rev. Prentice Kinser, III                          1981-1992
  • The Rev. P. Lawrence Murphy                      1997-2005
  • The Rev. C. Christian Pierce                          2007-2012
  • The Rev. Benjamin Wells Maas                    2013-present


History of Saint James’: Relationship with Grace, Casanova

The parish house built in 1909 by Grace Church, Casanova. (undated photo, courtesy of Grace Church, Casanova)
The parish house built in 1909 by Grace Church, Casanova. (undated photo, courtesy of Grace Church, Casanova)

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

History of Saint James’: 1930 Bicentennial


Saint James’ has a tradition of marking the anniversary of significant events in its history.

Today, we recall an earlier bicentennial – 200 years of Hamilton Parish, 1730-1930, celebrated 85 years ago with a gift to the church that continues in use and will symbolize the devotion of parishioners for generations to come. The following is recorded in Vestry Minutes:

Wednesday, May 21st, 1930, the Bishop of the Diocese, Rt. Rev. St. George Tucker, D.D. consecrated the Memorial Chalice presented to the Hamilton Parish on the two hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Parish.

This chalice was made of silver, gold and precious stones, given by the members of the congregation, in memory of the following persons:

Mrs. Martha Pickett Brooke | Mrs. Patsy Gordon PerkinsMrs. William Horner | Mrs. Ann Morson Scott Payne | Mrs. Alexander John Marshall | Rev. Upton Beall Bowden | Mrs. Sidney Mason | Gen. Baldwin Day Spilman | Mrs. Eliza Clarkson Marshall | Mrs. Sarah Bryson Sublett | Rev. James Keith | Robert. E. Marshall | Mrs. Sarah Agnes Keith | Mrs. Martha Tyson Marshall | Mrs. Harriet A. Hilleary | The Butler Family of Fauquier Institute | Mrs. May Gaines Bell | The William Sheppard Family | Fairfax Gaines | Mrs. Maria Dawson Pendleton | Grenville Gaines | Thos. C. Thornton | Mrs. Grenville Gaines