History

The first house of worship in the Middleburg area, a free church established around 1805, welcomed members of every denomination. Gradually, each group left to establish its own place of worship. The Episcopalians took their turn in 1842 when they purchased a quarter-acre lot on which to build a church called Emmanuel, consecrated the following year. The church building was enlarged in 1927 by a third to accommodate the gift of a pipe organ, and once again in 1976 to fit yet another organ, bringing the church to its present capacity of 120.

Built in Gothic revival style, Emmanuel is Middleburg’s first example of mid-19th century architecture. In the early years it was sustained by the community’s leading citizens, who often supported the church out of their own pockets. During the Civil War, periodic skirmishes took place in Middleburg. Even so, the church remained open for much of the conflict, serving as a hospital or as a gathering place for the wounded. In 1863 The Rev. O. A. Kinsolving was held at Capital Prison in Washington, D.C. for several months, suspected of preaching secessionist sermons. He returned at war’s end to serve as rector of Emmanuel until 1870.

The Rev. David Campbell Mayers, our longest-serving rector, arrived in 1921. He was particularly active in civic affairs, working to improve conditions in local health facilities and public schools. He led the church through Prohibition, the Depression, and World War II—retiring in 1946. His community involvement was a precursor of civil rights activists to come. 

 

The Rev. Ernest (“Froggie”) de Bordenave, Emmanuel's rector from 1955 to 1967, was a key figure in integrating Middleburg by involving black youths in Little League and joining with black leaders to integrate the town’s restaurants.

 

Parishioner activists worked with The Rev. S. Neale Morgan (rector from 1969-1993) to start Middleburg FISH (For Instant and Sympathetic Help) in 1965 (an organization which provides emergency assistance with rent and utilities), and the Windy Hill Foundation in 1983, which renovated an impoverished area of Middleburg and offers expanded affordable housing today. In 1994, parishioners helped establish Seven Loaves Services, a local food pantry.

Today, the legacy of service to the community continues unabated. Emmanuel volunteers share time and talent with Seven Loaves, FISH, A Place to Be and other nonprofits. Our current rector, The Rev. Eugene LeCouteur, is active in community affairs and has expanded the annual Blessing of the Animals to a community-wide event assisted by clergy from other denominations and held at Middleburg’s National Sporting Library and Museum.