The History of St. Philip's

St. Philip's at worship in the sanctuaryFounded in 1861, St. Philip’s Episcopal Church is the sixth oldest historically African American congregation in the Episcopal Church, as well as the first to be founded in the American South. Nestled in historic Northside Richmond, the church has provided more than 150 years of rich Christian history and service to the greater Richmond community.  Today, St. Philip’s membership consists of approximately 280 members of predominantly African descent and diverse socioeconomic backgrounds.

The dynamic history of this congregation began in 1861 as a mission of St. James' Church. The founding members were either freemen and women or indentured servants of Virginia aristocrats and landowners. For four years, the congregation thrived, offering a multitude of services to its members including a school.  At the end of the Civil War in 1865, the church structure was destroyed under mysterious circumstances. Despite that devastating loss, the church itself remained intact as the congregation continued to meet in the homes of various members.

After approximately four years without a central structure, the building was rebuilt in 1869 with the assistance of the Diocese of Virginia, St. James' Church, and the family of J. E. B. Stuart.  St. Philip's became a self-supporting parish in 1920, and has endeavored since that time to love and serve the Lord, the community, and the world.