8:00am Holy Eucharist, Rite I
10:30am Holy Eucharist, Rite II
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By Julie Ford
Historic Lewisburg, the third oldest town in West Virginia and the county seat of Greenbrier County provides the setting for worshipers at St. James Episcopal Church. The community was originally called The Savannah, then Fort Savannah, later Camp Union, and finally Lewisburg. Lewisburg's name honors General Andrew Lewis whose army assembled at Camp Union for its historic march to Point Pleasant where an early battle of the American Revolution was fought in 1774 and the Indian Chief, Cornstalk, was defeated.
Episcopalians in Greenbrier County were served by missionaries from Western Virginia. In 1881, St. James' first church building was erected on West Washington Street, the town's main thoroughfare, under the Deacon Emil J. Hall, who was succeeded by the Reverend Mr. Francis D. Lee.
The Greenbrier Parish was organized and admitted to union with the Diocese in 1883, embracing in it territory the county of Greenbrier excluding White Sulphur Springs, which was placed under the control of the Bishop, the town of Alderson in Monroe County, and four miles around. At the time of its organization there were two churches in the Parish: St. James at Lewisburg and the Church of the Incarnation at Ronceverte, both nearly complete.
The Reverend Dr. Thomas Hugo Lacy was the first Minister in charge of the Parish. It is not known when Dr. Lacy assumed the duties of the Greenbrier Parish, but records indicate he was at this post until 1888.
It was while the Reverend Mr. Temple G. Wheeler, (1937-40), was serving the Parish that the congregation petitioned the Rt. Rev. Bishop R.E.L. Strider to close St. James. This petion was granted in 1939. The membership and interest had dwindled to such a point that it seemed impossible to carry on the church any longer.
The few remaining members considered themselves a congregation and the church organization was maintained with pledges and the money from the sale of church property put into its treasury.
With the advent of the Reverend Mr. Griffin C. Callahan, 1943-49, services were again held in Lewisburg at the John A. Preston Community House with large numbers of studentsfrom Greenbrier College for Women and Greenbrier Military School swelling the attendance.
The Reverend Mr. Craig E. Eder, Associate Priest in Charge, came to help Mr. Callahan in the widespread parish, which extended into Pocahontas County during the World War II years. These two energetic men and Mrs. M.L. Zimmerman, an outstanding church member, were instrumental in the plans for the rebuilding of a church in Lewisburg. Not only had the membership grown, but there was a pressing need to adequately fill the spiritual life of the students in the two local boarding schools.
Property was purchased for the new building on Church Street with funds from the sale of the previous church property. Ground was broken for the present building on March 10, 1951, under the leadership of Mr. Eder with the Rt. Rev. Wilburn C. Campbell, then Coadjutor of the Diocese, attending the ceremonies. The cornerstone was laid by the Reverend Mr. John C. Henry, Vicar in Charge of the Mission, (1951-53). on St. James' day July 25, 1951; and the completed building was dedicated by Bishop Campbell on the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, January 25, 1952.
June, 1959 opened the new pages in St. James' history when the Reverend Mr. L. Harold Hindricks accepted the call to become its first vicar.
The Canterbury Club became quite active with thirty to forty members at each meeting, These young people became a vital force in the church, helping with all services and adding their enthusiasm to church projects.
The church grew and the annual Christmas pageant presented by the children became a highlight of the Church year.
The E.C.W.'s unique bazaar became a chief money-raising project which enabled the women to make a substantial contribution to the general budget of the church, to give Peterkin scholarships and fulfill Convocation and Diocesan responsibilities.
Since Mr. Hindricks was to retire from the full time ministry in 1964, Mr. Clifford E. Schane, a recent graduate of Virginia Theological Seminary, was called as assistant. After Mr. Hindricks retirement Mr. Schane was made vicar.
Mr. Schane made an immediate impact on the church and the community, and he spent many hours counseling at both Greenbrier College and Greenbrier Military School. The cadets in the latter school made him an honorary member of the their corps.
The need for expanded facilities was great. Not only was church membership increasing but more space was a necessity for church programs and meetings of local groups, such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.
Financing through pledges from church members and later a bequest from the late Cooper Proctor Benedict, St. James was able to erect an activities building containing several class rooms, a nursery and a vicar's study. The Cooper Proctor Benedict Building was dedicated in November 1966, with Mr. Griffin Callahan as speaker and The Right Rev. Wilburn C. Campbell participating. The Rev. Clifford Schane was vicar with Cleveland K. Benedict as Senior Warden.
The Rev. Mr. Schane accepted a call to Christ Church, Point Pleasant, in December, 1967. With the help of Mr. Harold Hindricks, Vicar Emeritus, and Lay Readers such as Horace Goodman of the Church of the Incarnation, Ronceverte, St. James carried on until the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. David C. Jones in June, 1968.
Since St. James had no vicarage, housing had became a problem. Mr. and Mrs. Jones convinced the congregation that a permanent home for its Vicar was necessary. The property, purchased years earlier by the E.C.W., was the site selected for the vicarage, and a three bedroom home completed in 1971.
Mr. Jones accepted a call to St. Stephens Church, Beckley, in the spring of 1972, and was succeeded by the The Rev. James W.H. Sell. Mr. Sell's talent for writing led him to be a most eagerly read columnist in the West Virginia Daily News. During Rev. Sell's Tenure, St. James obtained full Parish status after being a Mission for almost one hundred years. Mr. Sell and his family accepted a call to New Jersey in 1981.
The Rev. Wallace A. Reynolds Jr. and wife Sheila, arrived in 1981. Rev. Reynolds pariciapted in many community projects throughout the Greenbrier Valley, including introducing soccer. In 1987, Rev. Reynolds and family moved to Kentucky.
In 1988, Rev. James Christopher Roberts and wife Darlinda Roberts MD, arrived at St. James. They stayed until 1990 when Rev. Roberts accepted a call to Wheeling. Sadly, Darlinda passed on in 2000 after a valiant battle with cancer.
Rev. Larry Minter and his wife Jane, and daughter Anna, arrived in 1991. During Rev. Minter's ministry, a new addition of a Parish Hall, classrooms and a modern kitchen were added to the church. John Wade Bell III was the architectural advisor; Brown Construction, the contractor and David Nalker, the Building Committee Chariman. Through their leadership the project was completed and dedicated by Bishop Smith on July 13, 1997.
Rev. Minter and his family answered a call to a new church in Huntsville AL. in 1998.
The Rev. James C. Conyers and his wife Deborah came to St. James in November, 1999. The shored up the mighty force that was still gathering at St. James.
When the Rev. James Conyers retired, Rev. Scott Fuir and his wife Joanne blessed us with his arrival. The Rev. Scott Fuir began serving as Rector of St. James’ Church in November 2008. A graduate of Princeton University and The University of the South School of Theology, Fr. Scott was ordained to the Episcopal priesthood on January 18, 1997 in the Diocese of New Jersey. Prior to coming to Lewisburg, the Fuirs resided in Oxford, PA where Fr. Scott was Rector of St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church.
Following Father Scott's departure in November of 2012 Father Joshua Saxe accepted the call to serve in Lewisburg in March 2013. Father Saxe and his wife Catherine came from Trinity Episcopal Church in Parkersburg, WV where he served as Curate since July of 2011. He and Catherine are both graduates of The General Theological Seminary, Class of 2011.
In March 2013 we welcomed Father Joshua Saxe and his wife.