Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia
The Episcopal Church of the Epiphany is part of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia, which is headquartered in Newport News. The diocese is home to 103 Episcopal congre-gations stretching over 200 miles from the Virginia/ Maryland border on the Eastern Shore, west to Danville and Chatham, and northwest to the portion of the Richmond metropolitan area located on the south side of the James River. Altogether, about 30,000 persons worship in the diocese.
Originally carved out of the Diocese of Virginia in 1892, the Diocese of Southern Virginia is now one of three Episcopal dioceses in the state. The diocese has roots in the earliest decades of American history, going back four centuries to the English settlement of Jamestown. In 1607, the Rev. Robert Hunt, chaplain to the Jamestown settlers, celebrated the first Anglican Holy Communion on these shores. The Church of England, the forerunner of the Episcopal Church in America, was the established church in Virginia for the next 173 years.
While proud of its heritage, the diocese looks forward. Under the leadership of the Rt. Rev. Herman “Holly” Hollerith, who was consecrated tenth Bishop of Southern Virginia in February of 2009, the diocese is pursuing a bold vision for the future. Congregational development, the raising up of new generations of leaders, ordination reform, creative approaches to stewardship, clergy wellness, the planting of emerging congregations, and the development of bold mission endeavors comprise but a portion of the vision for the diocese. Perhaps you will have a part in bringing forth this vision!
The Episcopal Church of the Epiphany was founded in 1840 by Dr. George Washington Dame, who came to town to serve as principal of the Danville Female Academy. Four years later the church erected a wooden structure of Gothic design, on the corner of Main Street and Jefferson Avenue. By the time of the Civil War, Dr. Dame’s original congregation of four women had grown to 265 communicants. The original frame building was demolished to make way for the present structure, which was consecrated in 1880.
In his autobiography, Dr. Dame spoke of his belief that God called him to ministry and later to Danville. He wrote, "I could never understand what made me leave my home and make the heavy sacrifice unless it was the moving of Him who by His Spirit leads the blind by ways they know not..."
In Dr. Dame, God called a new church into being. And 175 years later, we strive to live into that early call. Throughout its history, the people of the Church of the Epiphany have followed a call to be a church whose heart is centered in revealing and manifesting God's love to the world. Over and over we have sought to be a place whose arms open wide for the work of God's kingdom.
Most of the stained glass memorial windows, installed during the first quarter of the 20th century, were designed and executed by the J.R. Lamb Company of New York. The chancel “Christ as Shepherd” window honors the lifework of Epiphany’s first rector, who retired in 1895.
In the Episcopal tradition, we value worship in beautiful spaces as a way to honor God and to help us to connect with God. This is a gift from our Catholic heritage. Stained glass windows are not only a teaching element, but also "lift our hearts." We worship in beautiful spaces, giving our best to God. Our worship space gives a sense of worship as beauty and wonder invites us to mark time differently - sacramentally, eternally.
In celebration of Epiphany’s centennial in 1979 of the current structure, the balcony at the rear of the nave was enlarged to accommodate an Andover tracker organ. The installation of this instrument was one of the early projects made possible by the Schoolfield Trust.
About the same time the church received two more significant gifts. Longtime member E. Stuart James Grant, purchased and donated to Epiphany, the Main Street property immediately adjacent to the church. In 1980 a beautiful garden was created on this land in memory of Mrs. John G. Boatwright.
“Wherever you are on your walk of faith, you are welcome at this table.”