The Origin of the Relationship between Saint James’ and First Bapist Church

By Richard Gookin, Parish Historian

As a young clergyman in 1812 or 1813, the Rev. William Mead, who would later become the Bishop of Virginia, visited Hamilton Parish and found that there was no house of worship in Warrenton of any denomination.

Soon thereafter, he wrote that the Episcopalians were determined to build a church, and in 1816, a group of like-minded residents built a house of worship on the Alexandria Turnpike.

Continue reading “The Origin of the Relationship between Saint James’ and First Bapist Church”

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.

Continue reading “The 1789 Book of Common Prayer”

History of Saint James’: Reconstruction and the African-American Community

Parishioners will recall that a vital part of our 19th century history came to light in July 2015.  It was revealed in a slim, inconspicuous notebook-style Parish Register containing essential information for the years 1859 through 1871, a period before, during, and after the Civil War.  Owing to the absence of Vestry Minutes for that tumultuous time, and an incomplete reference file, it was thought that no records existed within Saint James’ for those years.

Continue reading “History of Saint James’: Reconstruction and the African-American Community”

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;

Continue reading “Resolution Commending Richard Gookin”

History of Saint James’: El Camino de Santiago

Saint James, aka Saint James the Greater, Saint James the Elder, and James, son of Zebedee

Fellow parishioner Jim Timberlake is now on a walking pilgrimage – the route is called “El Camino de Santiago,” or “The Way of Saint James” as its often called in English – to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain, believed to be the burial place of Saint James.  One of the Twelve Apostles, James was distinguished as being in Jesus’ innermost circle and the only apostle whose martyrdom is recorded in the New Testament (Acts 12:2).  Born in Galilee, Palestine, he died 44 CE in Jerusalem by order of King Herod Agrippa I of Judea

Medieval Christian legends tell us that Saint James had traveled widely on the Iberian Peninsula, bringing Christianity to the Celtic peoples.  Following his martyrdom, his relics were supposedly taken back to Spain and enshrined. During Roman persecution, however, the early Spanish Christians were forced to abandon the shrine and with the depopulation of the area following the fall of the Roman Empire, the location of the shrine was forgotten.  In 813 CE, so the legend goes, a hermit led by a beckoning star and celestial music discovered the location of the buried relics.

Continue reading “History of Saint James’: El Camino de Santiago”

History of Saint James’: Hadow Memorial Tablet, Part II

Readers may recall the previous article in which the memorial tablet to Ian Lindsay Lunsford Hadow was described.  Although Ian was born in England and died there at age 7, his mother was from a Warrenton family and had married an Englishman.  When Ian came from England to stay with his Warrenton grandparents, he was baptized at Saint James’, the family parish.

Fortuitously, fellow parishioner Eileen Burgwyn kindly wrote on March 10 informing of the origin of the quotation on the memorial tablet —

No star is ever lost we once have seen

Continue reading “History of Saint James’: Hadow Memorial Tablet, Part II”

History of Saint James’: The Agnes Wise Memorial Window

PEACE: The Agnes Wise Memorial Window

Two memorial windows were saved from the fire that destroyed the church on October 29, 1910 – the fourth and fifth windows now on the right-hand aisle (south), near the chancel.  Volunteer firemen successfully pried the stained glass windows from their frames.  The fourth window – the Saint Agnes window, was designed by Lamb Studios in 1903.  It depicts a young woman standing quietly, cradling a dove, and bears the following inscription:

To the glory of God and in memory of AGNES WISE Obit. March 25, 1902 – Met. 18 years Continue reading “History of Saint James’: The Agnes Wise Memorial Window”

History of Saint James’: A Poem for Easter

Last week, we introduced Mildred Grace Street (1880-1956), chorister at Saint James’ Church for 28 years, and her husband, T. “Willie” Street, organist.  As a team, Mr. and Mrs. Street were very much a part of the Saint James’ family, dedicating their lives by glorifying God through musical talent.

Mildred was also a gifted poet; her love of nature, the good earth, and her faith are reflected in her verse.

Reprinted here is an illustration of her work, appropriate to the season. Continue reading “History of Saint James’: A Poem for Easter”

History of Saint James’: Organists

In 1982, the late Jeanne Davis compiled personal reminiscences of Saint James’ congregants, mostly elder, as part of a nationwide Episcopal celebration reminding us that our church is a body of people with rich and varied gifts.  The following is taken from these recollections found in “Gifts of the Generations” (St. James’ Church, September 1982).

“Many remembrances of personalities center around the organists and choir members.  Among the organists was Charlotte Holt, daughter of the Rev. George Washington Nelson, Rector 1880-1903.  Also, Dr. Bromley, organist during the early tenure of Mr. Bowden, organized a boys’ choir made up in part of boys from Stuyvesant School.

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History of Saint James’: The Organ and Other Music

For many, music is at the heart of worship.  The Church’s great occasions and major feasts are enhanced by beautiful music, just as they have been throughout the ages.  God is glorified through the music in our worship, and worshipers may experience a touch of the holy when church music is done well.  Most of us have strong opinions about it, and usually rank it with preaching and ceremonial as important elements in our worship. The Living Church

The Organ – A History


  • 1853 – Saint James’, Culpeper Street – a reed organ           
  • 1870 – Purchase of Baptist Church’s pipe organ in Washington           
  • 1912 – New pipe organ            
  • 1922 – Rebuild of the 1912 organ            
  • 1970 – Overhaul the 1912 organ, expand, and replace console              
  • 1987 – Rebuild, revoicing, and expansion of the 1912 organ           
  • 2011-13 – Major organ renovation

Continue reading “History of Saint James’: The Organ and Other Music”

History of Saint James’: Hadow Memorial Tablet

“No Star is Ever Lost / We Have Once Seen”

In the nave, on the right-hand wall between the first two windows, is a marble tablet in memory of Ian Lindsay Lunsford Hadow.  Placed there in October 1935, it memorializes a young boy, age 7, who was born and died in England at the home of his parents.  Ian Hadow’s short life was from 1927 to 1935.  On his mother’s side, he had roots in Virginia.

Ian’s parents, Robert Henry Hadow and Elizabeth Lindsay Lomax, were married at Saint James’ Church on June 30, 1925, with the Rev. Paul Bowden officiating.  The Parish Register shows the groom’s residence as Srinagar, Kashmir (India); the bride’s residences are shown as Washington, D. C. and Warrenton, Virginia. Continue reading “History of Saint James’: Hadow Memorial Tablet”

History of Saint James’: Rev. David Greer

The Rev. David J. Greer

11th Rector of Saint James’ Church (1964-1980)

GreerIn 1964, David Jay Greer succeeded Paul Bowden as Rector of Saint James’ Church.  Mr. Greer resigned as rector of Christ Church, Gordonsville, to come to Warrenton.  Noteworthy is that recruitment of a successor priest was different then.  Reflected in an oral history taken in 1997, David Greer spoke of the manner in which the call to take the pulpit at Saint James’ came about.

“One of the fascinating things that happened several years before Paul Bowden retired was that he came to clergy conference at Roslyn (diocesan center) and I was sitting across the table from him; he leaned over and said, ‘David, when I retire, how would you like to come to Warrenton?’  I thanked him – I thought he was a wonderful man and appreciated what he had said – and I said I had never been to Warrenton and appreciated the suggestion.”

“Next, a group of people I didn’t know came to church every Sunday for at least six weeks.”

Continue reading “History of Saint James’: Rev. David Greer”

History of Saint James’: The Barrys (Part II)

Having lived in New York City, Wilmington, N.C. and Norfolk, Va. and by then with substantial means, Major Robert Peabody Barry, his wife Julia and children, settled at “Clifton,” the large farm they acquired in Fauquier County in 1879 from the Payne family – landowners who were also members of Saint James’.  Later, renamed “Dunnottar,” the Barrys operated a successful working farm.  Tragedy befell, however, in the great blizzard of 1899 when their house burned to the ground.  Undaunted, they moved to another house on the farm, raised their children, and lived there the rest of their lives.

The Barrys were a well-educated cosmopolitan couple and were among those Americans and British who, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, traveled to Europe on the Grand Tour and often acquired works of art.  During one such tour, the Barrys purchased copies of several masterpieces by great artists in the collection of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.  The paintings were brought to Clifton farm and some years later two of the works were given by the family to Saint James’ Church, where they are treasured today.

Continue reading “History of Saint James’: The Barrys (Part II)”

History of Saint James’: The Barrys (Part I)

The Ascension Window donated by the Barry Family
The Ascension Window donated by the Barry Family

Seated in the nave, the focus of our worship is the Altar, the Altar Cross, and the great east window depicting the Ascension of Christ.  At the base of the Ascension Window is this inscription:

In memory of my dear Wife, Julia K. Barry

The Barrys

Major and Mrs. Barry were parishioners of Saint James’ Church soon after they came to Fauquier County in 1879 and purchased “Clifton,” a large farm near Warrenton, later renamed “Dunnottar” after the ancient family seat in Scotland.

Mrs. Barry, in whose memory the window was given, was from New York City.  Born Julia Kean Neilson in 1843, she was descended from prominent figures in early American history, including Governor Peter Stuyvesant and Robert Livingston, a Founding Father.  She was the great grand-daughter of General John Neilson and granddaughter of Colonel Nicholas Fish, both officers in the Revolutionary War.

Continue reading “History of Saint James’: The Barrys (Part I)”

History of Saint James’: Rev Paul Bowden, Part II

The Rev. Paul Delafield Bowden

10th Rector of Saint James’ Church (1920-1963)

Part II

Early Years and Family (cont’d)

On taking up his ministry in 1920, Paul Bowden moved into the recently completed next door Rectory, and on his marriage in 1924, he and Mrs. Bowden resided there and made improvements to the house.  However, in 1927, Mrs. Bowden purchased “Innes Hill,” a 150 acre farm near her parents and other family properties on Springs Road.  The Bowdens proceeded with plans to build a Neoclassical-style mansion and outbuildings, renaming the property “The Oaks.” Paul and Margaret did not discuss relocation plans with the church until October 1931 when construction was well underway.  Vestryman Harry C. Groome of “Airlie” believed that the Rector should live in the Rectory, which had been a major project and financial outlay for the church. Mr. Groome felt strongly and resigned from the Vestry over the issue.  The Bowdens moved into The Oaks in January 1933, relinquished the Rectory and that portion of his salary back to the church.

Paul and Margaret Bowden lived happily at The Oaks for the rest of their lives, dedicating themselves to Saint James’ Church, their family, and beyond.

Continue reading “History of Saint James’: Rev Paul Bowden, Part II”

History of Saint James’: Rev. Paul Bowden

BowdenThe Rev. Paul Delafield Bowden 

10th Rector of Saint James’ Church (1920-1963)

Part I

On taking up his ministry in 1920, Paul Bowden wrote in the Parish Register:

“Having accepted the call to succeed the Rev. W. G. Pendleton as rector of St. James’ Church, Warrenton, Va., I took charge of the parish on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 1920 and preached my first sermon on the following Sunday. The parish had been without a rector or resident minister for six months. The report showed about 250 communicants. The equipment consisted of the church building, a small parish house and a rectory.  There was a debt of some $9000 [$100,000< in 2015 dollars] on the rectory. May the spirit of God aid me in the work among His people. – Paul D. Bowden”

Born in 1893 at Napoleonville, Louisiana, Paul Bowden was raised as an Episcopalian and followed his father and maternal grandfather into the ministry. He graduated from the University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee, in 1916, and entered Virginia Theological Seminary.

With the declaration of war against Germany on April 6, 1917, Paul Bowden informed the bishop of West Texas of his intention to interrupt his studies and join the Army. The bishop replied within days on April 11, 1917, in part, “….  While the commission to service in the United States Army is one of great dignity and of high opportunity for the discharge of sacred duties, yet the commission to preach the Gospel of peace is higher and it has greater power for the nation’s good.” Paul accepted the bishop’s plea, completed studies at Virginia Theological Seminary in 1919, and was ordained a priest that year.

At age 27, Mr. Bowden came to Saint James’ in 1920 from San Marcos, Texas, where he had been rector of St. Mark’s Church.  Thus began the longest continuous service – 43 years in a single pulpit in the history of the Diocese of Virginia (at least up until that time). He was often considered for larger churches and for other responsibilities, but with the bishop’s consent, he chose to remain at Saint James’.

In 1924, Paul married Margaret Primrose Spilman, daughter of General Baldwin Day Spilman and his wife, Annie, of Warrenton. Through the combination of the Rev. Bowden’s visionary leadership and his wife’s considerable resources, Saint James’ Church grew as it never had before. A major achievement was the family’s gift of the Spilman Memorial Parish House in 1929. Where he saw a need, Mr. Bowden filled it, paying for alteration of the Chapel, adding pews in memory of his parents, supplementing the salary of the church organist, adding memorial windows and financing many everyday church expenses.  Fundraising campaigns and bazaars became less necessary.

Saint James’ was truly his church. A hard worker who did almost everything himself, he had no regular secretary or assistant, and often only one acolyte. He ran the choir and Sunday school. He hand-addressed all mailings and often decorated the church for special occasions, bringing in cedar trees for Christmas and flowering branches for Easter.

The Bowdens’ lifetime generosity extended beyond the aesthetic into college scholarships for needy youths and providing food and clothing in the Depression. During World War II, Mr. Bowden made the parish house available by opening its doors to hundreds of soldiers, which included USO entertainments. He had showers installed in the basement for soldiers’ use; rooms were used for first aid classes, training air raid wardens and Red Cross activities. He personally hand-knitted mittens and socks for men in uniform.

In 1945, at war’s end, Mr. Bowden was honored for 25 years service at Saint James’ by a speech of tribute and gift of silver and glass. Along with spiritual growth and outreach, the church had been freed of debt, the church plant enlarged and the parish house built.

(to be continued)

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’: 1611 King James Bible

King James BibleFound, Lost, Found

One of the treasures of Saint James’ Church is a folio edition of the 1611 King James Version of the Bible, kept in a display case in the reception room.  First printed over 400 years ago, the Bible of King James “molded the English language, buttressed the ‘powers that be’ and yet enshrined a gospel of individual freedom.  No other book has given more to the English-speaking world.” citation

The King James Bible, also known as the Authorized Version, relied heavily on the translations from the Greek and Hebrew by William Tyndale (circa 1492-1536) who played a critical role in the development of the English language from a mixture of French, Anglo-Norman and Anglo-Saxon.

“Our” King James Bible appears to be an amalgamation of several editions.  There were five folio editions from 1611 to 1640.  In the opinion of a scholar, the Saint James’ copy is a composite of at least four and possibly all the folio editions.  It is known as The Great “he” Bible because of the printing error in the Book of Ruth, Chapter III, verse 15: “’he’ went into the city.” instead of “’she’ went into the city.”  Over time, various errors crept into editions of the Bible.  For example, in the so-called “Wicked Bible” edition of 1631 it was printed in Deuteronomy 5:24 – meant to celebrate God’s greatness – “And ye said, Behold the Lord our God had shewed us his glory, and his great asse.”  The same edition left out a crucial word in Exodus 20:14, which as a result read, “Thou shalt commit adultery.”  The printers were heavily fined.

On the flyleaf is the name Richard Wallor, born 1652.  We can speculate that he and his wife, Anna, obtained the Bible on their marriage about 1680.  Also on the flyleaf is what appears to be a recipe involving quantities of brandy, frankincense and other spices.

In the 1930s, parishioner Frank (Buddy) Edwin Bowman, Jr. (1909-1965), purchased the Bible in a rare book shop in London and donated it to Saint James’, perhaps because of the similarity of the Wallor name with that of a local family, the Wallers who came to Fauquier in the 1700s.

In December 1987 “our” King James Bible was stolen.  In September of the following year, the Rev. Prentice Kinser, III, Rector of Saint James’, received a letter signed only “Harold,” who said he took the Bible because it had been “deeded to him,” but he was dying and wished to return it to the church.  Enclosed with the letter was the key to a locker in the Amtrak station in Richmond.  Mr. Kinser and a Warrenton police officer went to Richmond to retrieve the package.  After some hesitation, fearing that the locker may be booby-trapped, they opened it to find the book wrapped in a green trash bag.  A reward had been offered for the safe return of the Bible, and “Harold” asked that the reward be used for research into the cure for AIDS, a request that the Rev. Kinser honored.  In addition “Harold” was added to the prayer list of the church for a time.

A scholar who examined and researched “our” Bible concluded that “even with its faults, this copy of the King James’ Version of the Bible is a valuable book.  It is acknowledged as the Bible of the English-speaking nations throughout the world.  And, it is complete even if some from various editions.”  Readers will recall that there were major celebrations, exhibitions, and extensive coverage of the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible in 2011. In one small English church, parishioners and fellow villagers read the entire Bible non-stop, 24-hours a day, for three days and nights.

Footnote:  The King James Bible was used in the inaugurations of George Washington and other presidents.  Further information on the Bible is available in church archives that may be accessed through the History Committee.

– Compiled by Richard Gookin, SJEC History Committee

Christmas Poem by Betsy Keith


Many parishioners will remember Elizabeth C. Keith “Betsy” (1911-2011), a member of the Keith family that has been a part of Hamilton Parish for nearly 300 years.  Betsy’s career as a teacher at Ashley Hall in Charleston, South Carolina was marked by high standards of excellence.  She was Head of the English Department and Director of Dramatics.  On retirement, Betsy immersed herself in the life of Saint James’ Church.  She left a legacy of giving of all sorts, including her poetry, one of which is particularly meaningful at this Christmas time.

Only in Silence

The wind that shook the rafters night and day,

And lashed the woods, and drove the clouds along

At sunset now has died and passed away.

Low in the rosy light of the western sky

The golden crescent of the moon descends:

The nights are very long: the year is old.

The evening star shines forth, the short day ends,

The moon slips down behind the purple hills,

And darkness settles over all the earth.

But the moon will shine in splendor on the night

We celebrate our blessed Savior’s birth. …

Sometimes at Christmas only stars are seen,

Glittering and brilliant with a frosty light,

And once I came from church on Christmas Eve

When snow was falling, soft and feathery white.

One needs to get away from city lights and noise

To know the beauty of a Christmas night

In moonlight, starlight, or the hush of snow.

God grant to you such beauty and such silences to know:

Only in silence do inner angels sing,

“Glory to God on high, glory to Christ the King.”


ECK, 1988

History of Saint James’: Pew Kneelers

Mackie, KathleenIn 1978 several members of St. James’ Church gathered together, calling themselves The Saint James’ Church Needlepoint Guild.  As a group they took on a ‘mission to restore’ the 300 original plastic covered pew kneelers and transform them with colorful needlepoint design coverings.  With the $500 seed money donated by Mr. and Mrs. Benny, members of Saint James’, the project took flight in memory of long-time and most beloved parishioner, Sally Harris Laing.  Yards of red velvet fabric to cover the sides and make the piping were purchased.  This velvet fabric was to be the only thread of sameness in the entire project.

Next came the fun part of creating the designs and stitching the canvas.  Our rector at the beginning of this launch was David Greer.  He offered the suggestion that each kneeler be designed to reflect the individual to whom the kneeler was dedicated…either honored or memorialized.  Therefore, today as we look around the nave and chapel we find the wide variety of needlepoint designs telling the story of the Saint James’ parishioners.  It was Mrs. Kathleen Mackie who took on the mantle of leadership in creating this multitude of canvas designs. When a parish member wished to give a kneeler, Mrs. Mackie would meet with the donor, chat about the one being honored, and offer her design suggestions to express their hobbies, interests, and/or distinctive personality traits.  (No unreasonable limitations were put on the canvas designs.)  One morning this past summer Mrs. Mackie shared the story that many of her designs had been inspired and gathered from books, art, and often travels she and her husband made while abroad.  She stated that she never left home without a pencil and paper…just in case she would come across an idea she wished to capture and/or sketch.  One of the designs she created and stitched in 1988 was in honor of Mary R.S. Day or “Polly”, as she was nicknamed.   As Polly was an ardent conservationist, the design Mrs. Mackie created for her was a red-breasted hummingbird with a vine of morning glory against a bright blue background.  Today you will find that kneeler located in the nave on the outside left aisle where Polly would often sit during the worship service.  Mrs. Mackie continued by saying that before this or any completed kneeler was placed in the pew it was photographed, assigned a number, and added to the guild catalogue book, now kept in the Archives Room.  This was the arduous procedure taken with each kneeler…all 296.  Our most recent kneeler was given to honor Donna Ingersoll when she retired as Saint James’ Church Hand Bell Choir Director.  It was designed by Bonnie Zacherle, stitched by Karla MacKimmie, and presented during our worship service this past spring by our rector, Ben Maas.

Following the initial placement of several newly covered kneelers the awareness and interest of this undertaking grew.  With that the membership in the guild also grew…to fifty ‘stitchers’.  Wednesday mornings became the ‘gathering day’ where Mrs. Mackie and other experienced needlepoint ladies shared their skills and the necessary techniques with interested beginners.  It was a fun and social time with needles, yarn, and fingers madly working away.   At the 1978 project inception each kneeler donor was asked to offer $35 for the expense of yarn and canvas.  When a canvas was completed, it was taken to be finished or ‘mounted’ to cover the original kneeler form.  With the initial seed money soon exhausted, the women of Saint James’ Church donated a one-time offering of $300 to purchase some additional red velvet fabric.  By 1989 the guild realized that a charge of $45 was necessary to cover the increase in costs of the canvas and Persian or tapestry yarns.

There are several areas within the church where kneelers of a specific size are necessary.  So in 1962 Mona Spoor of New York designed the main altar and the chapel altar kneelers.  Four ‘stitchers’, including The Reverend Paul Bowden, former Rector of Saint James’ Church, donated and stitched those pieces.  Within the choir pew area you will find kneelers that display the first lines of hymns along with some musical notes.  The reader’s kneeler exhibits Biblical verses.  Then around 1993 Mrs. Munster of Hume, Virginia offered a wedding kneeler.

So by 2000, 296 individual pew kneelers had been stitched, finished, and catalogued ready for placement within the church.  These kneelers often show a particular aspect of a parishioner’s life.  Take time some Sunday after the service to notice the different gifts and talents that were…and still are, within our midst.  We know you will appreciate the beauty each kneeler offers.  We ask that you respect these precious gifts…and use them only for prayer.

Finally, it must be stated that this mission was handled with great perseverance.  Mrs. Kathleen Mackie was the guiding light throughout this memorable project.   She added, “I just wanted to share my love of stitching”.  Mrs. Mackie along with all the Saint James’ Church guild and stitching friends leave a beautiful legacy.