Past rectors of our parish:
- The Rev. Robert Carter Jett (1893-1913)
- The Rev. William G. McDowell (1913-1918)
- The Rev. Dr. J. Lewis Gibbs (1918-1957)
- The Rev. Victor S. Ross, Jr. (1958-1965)
- The Rev. Allie W. Frazier, Jr. (1966-1968)
- The Rev. John T. Chewning, Jr. (1969-1971)
- The Rev. Hugh C. White (1971-1982)
- The Rev. Delmas Hare (1983-1986)
- The Rev. Walter Dawson (1987-1990)
- The Rev. Jane E. Sigloh (1992-1998)
- The Rev. Walter D. Clark (1998-1999)
- The Rev. Edward M. Covert (1999-2012)
- The Rev. Shelby Ochs Owen (2013-)
A Brief History of
Emmanuel Episcopal Church
Emmanuel Episcopal Church was founded in 1893 as an offshoot of nearby Trinity Episcopal Church. The new group of Episcopalians sent a letter of intention to the bishop on March 6, was granted permission to form a congregation on June 8, met officially for the first time at the YMCA on June 27, and called their first rector, the Rev. Robert Carter Jett, on June 30.
From the very first, Emmanuel has shown concern for the community and provided a theologically based vision of the Church as calling men and women to God's justice. Emmanuel has always been a church accepting and tolerant of change, so the parish has become a community in which political and religious conservatives and liberals work and worship together in mutual respect and caring. We have welcomed women to leadership positions.
In 1990, Emmanuel engaged a team from the Alban Institute to help us at a crisis point in our history. From the Alban experience came a reaffirmation of our desire to continue as a community. Part of this reaffirmation was the decision to become more consciously and intentionally a laity-led parish. This is accomplished by hiring part-time clergy particularly adept at helping the laity take on roles many would traditionally see as "the priest's job," including adult and children's education, outreach, stewardship, and fellowship.
Emmanuel has experienced a spiritual renewal since 1990, and a slow but steady growth. Our average Sunday morning attendance is 95. We are a parish comfortable with our size, being neither complacent about growth nor frantic about not becoming larger. We are an active congregation that welcomes new members to the ministry of Jesus Christ.
In November 2012, Rev. Ed Covert announced that he was retiring as rector of Emmanuel Episcopal Church, a position he had held for the previous 13 years. In the history of our parish, only one other rector had served longer: Rev. Dr. J. Lewis Gibbs (nearly forty years). On February 3, 2013, Emmanuel welcomed the Rev. Shelby Ochs Owen as our new priest in charge, and on July 1, 2015, she officially became the rector of our congregation. In 2018, the Vestry approved expanding her duties to a full-time basis, marking the first time since the 1980s that Emmanuel has had a full-time rector. Nevertheless, Emmanuel's intention and practice is to continue operating with a strong lay leadership.
Web site history
The Emmanuel website was relaunched in 2006, when Andrew Clem became the webmaster. Our domain name emmanuelstaunton.org went into effect in September 2011. In December 2017, a major revamping of the structure and format of the pages was largely completed.