History of All Saints
History of All Saints (1883-Present)
All Saints has been a part of the Richmond community for over a century. Our history began in 1883 when vestry members of Monumental Episcopal Church began an afternoon Sunday School in a frame building on the corner of Madison and Grace Streets for the convenience of children whose families resided in what was then known as the West End. Monumental then acquired property on an adjacent corner and constructed a chapel there, but the congregation quickly outgrew the building. A decision was made to build a new and larger facility in 1886 on the rear of the same lot but fronting on Madison Street. Construction began in July 1887 and six months later the congregation voted to become an independent church. On July 18,1888, the members named their church All Saints, marking the break from its mother church, Monumental.
All Saints held its first service on Christmas Day, 1888. Within ten years its congregation increased tenfold, far beyond the capacity of its facilities. At about the same time the parish was given a large lot at 316 West Franklin on which the vestry decided to construct a new building. The cornerstone was laid on December 7, 1898, and the first services in the new church were held on Epiphany Sunday, January 7, 1901.
In response to the migration of families westward from the City of Richmond, the congregation decided to move the church to the western suburban area in April 1955 and chose a site adjacent to Roslyn, the Diocesan conference center. During the period of construction, All Saints rented the facilities of The Collegiate Schools in order to provide worship services on Sunday mornings for the increasing number of families in the Roslyn area who had indicated a desire to join the church.
Now numbering over 900 registered members ("communicants"), All Saints Episcopal Church is a family committed to celebrating and sharing the love and healing power of Jesus Christ. As we build a community of trusting, caring Christians, we seek to make a difference in Richmond and beyond. We are sustained by our parishioners' spiritual, personal, and financial commitment to the life of the church. Thank you for 135 years and counting!
Reflections on the Founders
In the late nineteenth century, four Virginia gentlemen were members of Monumental Episcopal Church near Church Hill in Richmond. Their church was active in many ways but they wanted to do more. In 1883, the church bought a piece of property at Madison and Grace Streets for the purposes of opening a chapel to start a regular Sunday School and to minister to the people in that part of the city. The planning for the new chapel began. Unfortunately, as sometimes happens in the life of venerable churches, in 1888 the established church fell on hard economic times and felt it could no longer afford its own ministries and provide financial support to another fledgling congregation elsewhere. In fact, it was $3000 in debt, a significant sum back then. Four vestry members, believing in the rightness and importance of continuing this new ministry offered to rescue the new church and establish it as an independent congregation. The church minutes of January 18, 1888 show that Peter H. Mayo, J.N. Boyd, T.L. Alfriend, and Thomas Atkinson, agreed to contribute the money needed to continue the work begun at the corner of Grace and Madison as an independent congregation.
At that very moment, All Saints Episcopal Church was born. It is hard to imagine that the history of this parish from 1888 up to this very day depended so dramatically on the good intentions of these four men. We can only imagine that their lives had been sincerely touched by the Spirit of Jesus Christ and that they wanted to share that Spirit with others. There are two striking characteristics of the founding of this church. First, though we now sit in a fine, impressive, gothic church building with beautiful stained glass windows and a quality pipe organ, the early All Saints was born into circumstances of financial want. It was born in relative poverty. Secondly, had it not been for the vision of four men, who backed up their vision of a new church with financial support, none of us would be worshipping at All Saints today. All Saints Episcopal Church simply would not have come to be. When we think about it, the Christian Church has always stood on the shoulders of those faithful in Christ who have gone before in earlier generations. Thus, we celebrate and give thanks for this Christian heritage every day at All Saints!