History of Our Church


A Brief History of St. John's Episcopal Church

Chester, Virginia

Prior to June 1879, some Episcopalians in Chester asked the Reverend Dr. Churchill Gibson of Petersburg to hold services in the Chester Hotel. This was the beginning of the Episcopal Church in Chester. A location was selected on which to build and on March 30, 1880, a cornerstone was laid with Masonic ceremonies. The cost of the original building was $1,500. The Right Reverend Francis McNeece Whittle, D.D. , Bishop of the Diocese of Virginia, consecrated it on December 23, 1880. When the Diocese of Southern Virginia was created in 1892, St. John's became a mission of that diocese.

By the mid-1950s, the congregation had grown significantly, to the extent that it was established as a parish by the Diocese of Southern Virginia in 1956, with the Rev. Gordon Bell Davis as the first rector. During this period, two additions were built onto the rear of the original building, providing space for church school activities and office spaces. The church and the two additions were destroyed by fire on November 2, 1975. The vestry, acting quickly, appointed a Steering Committee that oversaw the tasks needed to rebuild and by April 1978 permanent access to our Church and a new Parish Hall was gained. A colonnade connecting the church to the Parish Hall was dedicated in November 1984, bringing to completion the original building plans for the church complex. We have remained in the same location since the original building was consecrated in 1880.

By January 2001, another addition was made to the office spaces to accommodate anticipated staff growth. We have recently purchased adjoining property that will provide us with additional space for church school and youth activities.

As a vibrant entity in our community and beyond we have a strong calling to reach out helping hands to those in need. Our congregation offers a warm welcome and we invite you to join us in worship, study, prayer, and fellowship as we seek to spread the good news of God's love which we have come to experience and know through our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.

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