Sign, cornerstone dedicated

Published 6:15 pm Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Victoria’s St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church may be gone, but it isn’t forgotten — and, now, thanks to a marker, it certainly won’t be.

A sign and cornerstone were dedicated Sunday, at 10th and Washington streets, where the church stood. The marker “memorializes those early Episcopalian priests and all who worshipped here through the twentieth century.”

In 1995, the church joined with St. Paul’s and they became The Episcopal Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew of Kenbridge. The Victoria building was rented out to another church, and burned down in May 2014. It was subsequently secularized and demolished in August.

The Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia owns the property. It’s not for sale, but it probably will be soon.

And, thus, the marker.

“We wanted to make sure there was some time for healing, that the old building was removed and there was a green space,” Priest-in-Charge of The Episcopal Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew the Rev. Gini G. DiStanislao said. “We wanted to do something to honor the people who worshipped here and what the church was, and this was the best way to do it.”

Even after the Episcopalians had stopped using the church and were renting it out, they still held service in it once a year, usually in November.

At the dedication, former members shared stories and recalled what St. Andrew’s had meant to them.

“It was home,” Linda Seamster said. “Many times when I had challenges, I (pondered) them at St. Andrew’s by myself.”

Judy Mason said her grandmother had told her to “Go where it is for you.” She found it at St. Andrew’s.

“When I walked in the door it was where I knew I belonged,” she said.

The small congregation meant they were family. It also gave everyone a chance to help and contribute.

Betty Graber remembers fondly how she and her mother cared for the altar and cleaned the church.

It was a labor of love — for all of the church members.

“We did everything,” Seamster noted.

Patricia Israel recalled a poem written by church member Tommy Wright Sr.

“The poem he wrote was very simple but a very good poem,” she said. “It was very meaningful what the church had meant to him, what his country meant to him.”

Eventually, maybe later this year, some flowers will be planted at the base of the marker — just another reminder of what St. Andrew’s meant and means and how it will never be forgotten.

“It’s always a memory in people’s mind,” Israel said. “You can’t erase the memory of people’s childhood church.”