HONORING THE 120TH ANNIVERSARY OF ST. AUGUSTINE'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH

October 25, 2017
Floor Statements

Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor the 120th anniversary of St. Augustine's Episcopal Church in Newport News, Virginia.

St. Augustine's Episcopal Church had humble beginnings. Originally known as Warwick Parish, and then as St. Paul's Church, its mission was started in 1897 with the intention of providing a religious community for African-American Episcopalians. The church was started with neither a full-time pastor nor an official building, so the congregation ran their early services out of the upper floor of the Columba Opera House in Newport News. Reverend Joseph F. Mitchell became the first vicar for St. Paul's Mission in the fall of 1897 and spent the next six years of his ministry trying to grow the parish and raise enough funds to afford to build a chapel for the congregation.

Under the leadership of Reverend Adolphus A. Birch, the church's sixth rector, the name of the mission was officially changed to St. Augustine's Episcopal Church in 1924. Reverend Birch's successor, Reverend J.J. Posey, oversaw the church's move into their official building on Marshall Avenue at Twenty-Sixth Street in Newport News. The congregation still meets at this location in a new church building that was constructed in 1962 under the leadership of Reverend Lloyd M. Alexander.

Today, St. Augustine's Episcopal Church is home to a thriving parish life with a variety of ministries and programs aimed at bettering the congregation as well as the Newport News community. The Feeding Program was established in 1988 and offers hot meals to hungry adults and children every month. The Twelve Steps Program meets five days every week to extend counseling, support, and mentorship for men and women in the area who are struggling with substance abuse. The church also sponsors a yearly ``Back to School Drive'' which ensures that local children can begin the school year with a backpack and school supplies that they might struggle to otherwise afford. These programs provide an invaluable service to the church and its neighbors.

St. Augustine's growth in these past 120 years has been facilitated through the hard work and tireless efforts of seventeen devoted rectors--Rev. Joseph F. Mitchell, Rev. Henry J. Geiger, Rev. E.H. Hamilton, Rev. Byron E. Floyd, Rev. J.T. McDuffie, Rev. Adolphus A. Birch, Rev. J.J. Posey, Rev. Julian F. Dozier, Rev. Charles S. Sedgwick, Rev. Charles H. Dukes, Rev. Theodore R. Gibson, Rev. George E. Harper, Rev. Lloyd M. Alexander, Rev. Robert C.S. Powell, Rev. R. Scott Copeland, Rev. Ralph E. Haines, III, and Rev. Terry D. Edwards.

Mr. Speaker, today the congregation of St. Augustine's Episcopal Church can feel affirmed and celebratory in light of this historic milestone. As a longtime member of St. Augustine's, I wish to extend my warmest congratulations to Reverend Terry Davis Edwards and the entire St. Augustine's community. With the church's distinguished history in mind, the congregation may truly take this occasion to feel proud about their past, joyful about their present, and hopeful for their future. I wish St. Augustine's Episcopal Church 120 more years of growth, fellowship, and service.