The History of Ivy Parish
St. Paul’s Church was formed in the 1830s as a part of Fredericksville Parish. Courthouse records show a property transfer of “one-half acre, $1.00” to the fledgling church dated February 25, 1835. In 1836, the minutes of the Council of the Diocese of Virginia reported that the Rev. Edmund Christian was in charge of St. Paul’s and that several communicants had been added. The original building was erected near Mechum’s River, about a mile and a half west of the present site and just south of the “Dry Bridge” across the railroad on what is now Route 708. Early records state that “Mr. Fielding Lewis of Ivy, Colonel George Kinsolving, and Captain Jams Oldham helped to get it up.”
The first Episcopal visitation to St. Paul’s was made by Bishop William Meade on June 30, 1849, at which time he ordained the current minister-in-charge, the Rev. Samuel R. Slack. By 1851, the church reported 40 communicants representing 40 families. During 1868, plans were made to move to a new and central location one and a half miles east. The new site, at Ivy Depot, contained enough land (2½ acres) to erect the church and lay out a cemetery. Accordingly, St. Paul’s relocated, at a cost of $1,750, and on August 1, 1870, Bishop Francis Whittle consecrated the new building.
In 1888, the Rev. Frederick W. Neve came from England to assume the rectory of St. Paul’s, thus beginning a long and fruitful ministry in Ivy. Dedicated to carrying the Gospel to the people of the Blue Ridge, Mr. Neve began a chain of mountain missions, many of which exist today. St. John the Baptist Church, Ivy is one of these. As a result of Neve’s tireless ministry, the Archdeaconry of the Blue Ridge was established in 1904; Neve served as the first Archdeacon until his death in 1948. St. Paul’s Parish House, erected that same year, is a memorial to him.
On August 1, 1950, the year in which St. Paul’s became a parish, Dudley Archer Boogher became rector. Active in the mountain ministry since his ordination in 1931, Father Boogher served St. Paul’s and St. John the Baptist until his retirement in 1973. Under his leadership, the nave of the church was considerably enlarged in 1968, adding to the front and the rear and making possible the choir loft which housed the new Reuter organ. The bell tower, a familiar St. Paul’s landmark, was erected at that time.
The Reverend George W. Wyer became rector of St. Paul’s in early 1974 and served until his retirement on February 1, 1993. The Children’s Chapel was dedicated to the Reverend Wyer in appreciation for his work with the youth of St. Paul’s.
In 1993, the Reverend H. Miller Hunter, Jr. accepted the call from St. Paul’s and became Rector in early 1994. Under Miller’s guidance the church undertook the most extensive expansion program since construction of the present building in 1868. Funds from an anonymous bequest made possible the purchase and renovation of the adjacent property, Kirklea, the former home of Archdeacon Neve. This now houses the church offices and meeting spaces. On September 7, 1997, Bishop Robert Atkinson visited St. Paul’s and officiated at the dedication of Kirklea and at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Parish Hall, which was dedicated in October 1998, the 160th anniversary of the parish.
The Rev. Dr. Eric J. Liles, was called to St. Paul’s in 2012.
Today, as since its inception, St. Paul’s Ivy Episcopal Church remains responsive to the needs of the community, honoring the traditions of the past while working toward the goals of the future.