Cople Episcopal Parish

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St. James Church

  St. James Church is one of the most charming of all churches in the Diocese of Virginia. It is located on the bank of Machodoc Creek about two and a half miles above where the creek empties into the Potomac River. It was built about 1890 during the rectorship of Robert A. Castleman in the Cople Parish. It has a parish house adjacent to it.

            Mr. Samuel Henry Chatham was instrumental in the establishment of the church. He came here in his youth from Dorchester County, Maryland, and settled near the head of Machodoc Creek in a section of Westmoreland County that was isolated from the outside world by poor roads and few facilities. There were no schools or churches. He married Ella Herbert and raised a family of several sons and a daughter.

            He realized the need for educational facilities and in company with three of his neighbors approached the Episcopal Minister, the Rev. R. A. Castleman to provide religious services in the area. Mr. Castleman held his first service beneath a sail in the yard of Mrs. James Evans. Later a brush arbor was built and then, with the cooperation of other denominations, a small house was built to serve as a union chapel.

            The Episcopal ministers continued to hold services and the community became largely Episcopalian. Finally, with the written consent of the community, the little chapel was dedicated as St. James Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia.