St James the Less being matyredOur Patron Saint

As a result of the link with St. James’s in Richmond, we adopted the name St. James the Less. Our patron saint is thought to be a maternal cousin of Jesus and the son of Alpheus. He was so devoted to prayer that his knees and forehead were hardened, such as that of a camel’s hoofs. He was martyred in the name of God in 62 A.D. and prayed up to God for the forgiveness of his assassins while he was being stoned to death. The last hit that actually killed him was from a club, which is now used in his depiction. He is sometimes referred to as James the Just, because he abstained from drinking wine, eating meat, never cut his hair and did not anoint himself.

Our History

  • 1859 • The first record of Episcopal services in Ashland comes from the Diocesan Convention journal which reports that services are held in Ashland once a month with eight or nine communicants present.
  • 1863 • A bishop reports holding services in Ashland at the Masonic Building. Several congregations, including Baptists, Methodists and Episcopalians, before their respective churches are built, use the Masonic Building. At this time, Ashland is described as a small village where residents of Richmond spent their summers.
  • 1865 • A priest from St. James’s Richmond comes to Ashland to minister temporarily to the people. Later this summer, a congregational meeting is held in Ashland and a vestry is elected, the first steps toward forming an independent congregation.
  • 1866 • The parish is established on May 18, which is the date the Council of the Diocese of Virginia has sanctioned to coincide with the corporation of the Town of Ashland. The congregation continues to use the Masonic Building for worship.
  • 1875 • The first full-time rector, the Rev. Melville Boyd, begins ministry at Saint James the Less.
  • 1878 • Construction begins on a free-standing church, on South Center Street.
  • 1880 • St. James the Less on South Center Street is consecrated.
  • 1958 • After much growth and additions to and alterations of the old church, new facilities are constructed on Beverly Road. Worship is first held in this new church June 1.
  • 1989 • The congregation begins construction to expand and improve the facilities, which are now serving a thriving town. Additional seating in the balcony, an enlarged parish hall and more classrooms for instructing youth are realized.
  • 2006 • The St. James the Less Free Clinic begins providing free medical and dental services to under- and uninsured Ashland residents in the church basement.
  • 2013  • The Rev. Dr. David T. Anderson installed as rector of St. James the Less Episcopal Church

The History of St. James the Less Episcopal Church in Ashland, Virginia

St. James the Less Parishioner Anne S. Rose has written a full History of St. James the Less Episcopal Church. Copies of the book are available at a cost of $30. To order yours today, please email Proceeds benefit the building fund of St. James the Less.