The following history of The Church of Our Redeemer was written by Alworthy (Worthy) Caulk (July 26, 1919 – April 29, 2013) on the occasion of the dedication of the new Parish Hall in 1999. Worthy Caulk was a long-time member, leader, and tireless volunteer at COR.
A Note from the Author
When I was asked by the Dedication Committee to prepare a small treatise on the history of Church of Our Redeemer, to be readied in a month’s time, it seemed simple to say “oh yes, I’d like to do that.” After digging through every note and record I could find on Redeemer’s earliest years it is hereby highly recommended that Chet (Chester) Low’s excellent historical essay, written or the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of the consecration of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Middleburg, be diligently read and studied.
Chet Low readily acknowledged that he had relied heavily on the already researched work by Loudoun historian Eugene Scheel, The History of Middleburg and Vicinity, for answers about his questions about John Parish, in particular, and the role of the Episcopal
Church in this area, in general, since 1843 when its ministry truly began outside Tidewater Virginia.
It is recommended that Scheel’s book also be studied by those interested in Loudoun-Fauquier history. Between these two printed materials and the hand-written church records of Emmanuel and Our Redeemer churches we have an idea of how Redeemer came about — and why we know it as the wonderful little church we love today.
Alworthy U. Caulk
In 1850 the Aldie Episcopalians, who previously had been Members of the Cameron and Shelbourne Parishes, separated from them and joined Meade Parish. In 1853 Meade Parish was divided into two parts. The eastern half was organized as Johns Parish, taking its name from the Reverend John Johns, the 4th bishop of Virginia. The new parish included the towns of Upperville, Middleburg and Aldie with the rectory located in Upperville.
In 1885 the parish was again reorganized, excluding Upperville but including Oatlands. In 1945 Johns Parish was to consist of Middleburg’s Emmanuel and Aldie’s Church of Our Redeemer. Oatlands became an independent church.
There was no Episcopal church Building in Aldie before 1890, and services had been held in the Union Church on the site of today’s Presbyterian Church. In 1849, that town lot and the building erected thereon were transferred to trustees, John Moore, Thomas Boyle, Robert Ish and William Rawlings for these purposes: the building to be used as a place of public worship free to Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians and Episcopalians, and the lot to be appropriated for and used exclusively as a graveyard.
While there are no plans and pictures of the original building, it is believed to have been built of brick (probably burned on site) in the same style and possibly of the same size as historic Mt. Zion Church just east of Aldie on Route 50. The free Church, located, naturally on Aldie’s Meeting House Lane, was sold to the trustees of the Presbyterian Church for the sum of five dollars in 1892. By then the other denominations had built and moved into churches of their own.
It was during this time that vestry records of Redeemer were sparsely kept, and indeed, the church was not known as Our Redeemer until it was so named in 1890. Parishioner Henry Fairfax then owner of Oak Hill, the former estate of President James Monroe who retired to Loudoun County after his White House years, decided that Aldie needed an Episcopal church for its congregation from that village and nearby areas. Mr. Fairfax and his neighbors, though already pew-holders and contributors at Emmanuel, would build one.
The word was long handed down that the church was built entirely at Mr. Fairfax’s expense, and possibly so, but we know that his brother, Hamilton Rogers Fairfax of New York donated the pine and walnut pews, also the chancel furniture including the pulpit and lectern, that Vestryman John Moore had installed the lovely stained glass window above the altar as a memorial to his wife Lucy Berkeley Moore, and that many of the other church furnishings were placed there by the Moore and diZerega families who figured largely in Redeemer’s early history. However else the little white clapboard church came about, we know that Henry Fairfax deeded a plot of land on the southwest corner of his Oak Hill property fronting on the Little River Turnpike to Johns Parish and the Church of Our Redeemer came into existence. We have only one pinpoint to its building date. In the “Enterprise” column of the Loudoun Mirror, an early Loudoun County newspaper was found this item:
ALDIE VA., June 24, 1890. “Our Episcopal friends have recently completed a very neat church in Aldie and expect to open it for service early in July.”
The columnist known only as “Observer” also mentioned that the Little River Baptist Church would be dedicated the next Sunday, holding services all the day and the Saturday before.
In the style of the time, Our Redeemer sat firmly on its stone foundation, its steep roof cover a 30’ by 47’ rectangular sanctuary with ribbed vaulted ceiling. The interior, narthex doors, and windows followed a much-modified Gothic design, all so simple as to warrant its being “a small country church” which, indeed, it has been ever since, despite its somewhat elegant furnishings. While the building itself reflects the area, the furnishings reflect the Victorian era in which it was built. Brass, carved walnut, cut glass, ornate silver and a marble font are still being enhanced by stained glass and needlepoint.
When the new Parish House was being designed in 1997, the most important feature to the congregation was that it be architecturally compatible with the present church building, keeping the Moore window completely intact. That this was done warrants tribute not only to today’s planners and builders but to the tastes and talents of our founding fathers.
In its earliest days, whether Johns Parish Episcopalians met for worship in the free churches of Aldie or Middleburg, at Emmanuel, or finally at Our Redeemer, they followed the low- church ritual. Because of their life-styles—farmers, millers, a few statesmen, wheelwrights, or small businessmen, — the vestries chose not to stress those high-church traditions of more sophisticated parishes. It was not until the early nineteen seventies that low-church ritual at Our Redeemer began subtly changing. New prayer books, even new hymnals, the open-mindedness of bishops and the willingness of our ministers and congregations to accept change paved the way toward a more ecumenical attitude, thus more formal ritual.
In the forties, except for kneeling to pray and following the prayer book, the service at Our Redeemer was the same as in any other Aldie church. In fact, the only Sunday school in town was at the Presbyterian Church and some Episcopal members went there at 10:30 after 9:30 Redeemer services. With change from low- church happening so slowly, it was easy to accept the processional cross, elevation of elements, and assistance of lay people—all things that make up our present service. Learning to follow the newly styled bulletin and to sing the canticles in the new hymnal was much more difficult!
Some other changes in our times: Until the seventies no woman had ever served on the vestry. During the Rev. Neale Morgan’s tenure as pastor, a number of Our Redeemer women members were elected to that august office, and many have followed. Helen Wallace served as the first woman Senior Warden, and Worthy Caulk as the first woman Junior Warden of Our Redeemer.
Through the years, a woman of the church were always the church organists, but since 1992 a man, John Gardecki, has taken his place at the console of our present pipe organ, given to the church by Deborah Kaylor in memory of her grandfathers, both musicians in the nineteenth century. Redeemer has been blessed with ministers who could sing while the congregation joined in because it was a good and joyful thing to do. Today a finely outfitted choir joins the dedicated organist in making music come alive in the church.
The history of Redeemer’s Sunday school goes back to its church beginnings when the children from the Oak Hill vicinity were driven across the fields in a pony cart by the Fairfax’s English governess, Redeemer’s first Sunday school teacher, to be met there by other children of the village.
There were years, however, when services were sparsely attended, and Sunday school not at all. In 1950 came the request from the Women’s Auxiliary (church ladies were known as such then) that Our Redeemer have an all-purpose room suitable for Sunday school, meetings, suppers and bible school. It was built—and a bank loan for it was paid back fully with a minimum of sacrifice but maximum effort.
Vestrymen and village friends with know-how were resident engineers, contractors, and bankers. The women of the church helped plan the moneymaking events: Aldie old homes tours complete with plantation luncheon at Stoke, antique sales at Mercer and Berkeley houses, and the Church’s own harvest festival. By this time the women had become more than church housekeepers and gardeners, supper organizers and Sunday school teachers. The all purpose room, constructed beneath the original church building, added 1000 ft of usable space at a cost of $8,086.31.
Mrs. Henry Fairfax long outlived her husband who had been Our Redeemer’s guardian angel until his death in 1916. For most of her years Eugenia Tennant Fairfax was a source of any information on Our Redeemer. We quote as we remember: “Mr. Fairfax gave the land; the money for building the Episcopal Church was raised entirely by Mr. Fairfax and Captain diZerega who lived in the Mercer house. Mr. Norris was the architect and Mr. Ambler was the builder, along with Mr. Watson.” There was no mention anywhere of cost. Mrs. Fairfax did say, however, that when church money was needed for any purpose, it came from the collection plates or from the goodness of parishioners’ hearts. Pass the hat, as it were.
From the Resolution of Memoriam by the vestry on his death: “the Hon. Henry Fairfax was a man prominent in the affairs of State and Nation but not withstanding the wide range of his interests…he kept alive an active interest in his home county and his church…always ready to do his part which would be helpful in the moral and spiritual betterment of the community in which he lived.”
Our Redeemer was very lucky to have been on the receiving end of the devotion of Henry and “Miss Eugie” Fairfax. After they purchased and moved to the old Rogers plantation west of Aldie, named “Oakham”, where Mr. Fairfax raised champion trotting horses, Oak Hill plantation passed into the hands of Mr. Frank Littleton. It was then purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Thomas DeLashmutt. In1956 the DeLashmutt’s deeded land for a parking lot around Redeemer which was enlarged by yet a third gift of land from Oak Hill in 1997 when current owners, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas DeLashmutt, Jr. donated enough acreage to more than double the parking space needed for the Parish Hall project begun in March of that year.
It is a notable fact that most of the rectors and vestries kept excellent parishioner records during the early years of Johns Parish, and before, from 1840-1853 in Meade Parish by the Reverends Slaughter, Jackson, and Wilmer. The notes of Johns Parish were furnished intact until 1889 by the Reverends Kinsolving, Dame, Maury, Johnson, Johns and Ambler, giving names and dates for those Episcopalians who were born, baptized, confirmed, communicants, married and buried in the Parish, listed as either Middleburg or Aldie members.
Middleburg had built its own church in 1843, another “very neat and convenient” brick church given the Hebrew name of “Immanuel” according to Bishop John Johns who consecrated it.
Emmanuel also built a rectory on a near-by lot but they rented it out as a residence rather than using it themselves because the rectors who served the three charges of Middleburg, Aldie and Oatlands preferred to live halfway between them. Aldie was chosen despite the leaking roof that had come with the former Mt. Zion Baptist rectory purchased by the Episcopalians.
The Aldie rectory was the meeting place of the combined vestries, as we have noted, but otherwise there is no telling what happened at those meetings. Regardless of the beautiful penmanship in which the minutes were written, most of them are impossible.
It is believed, however, that excepting costs and payments — distributions thereof —electing vestrymen (many of whom served for years at a time), writing resolutions of appreciation and voting on the property repairs (eternally ongoing) plus electing representatives to various church conventions, nothing much of interest came about. Though, while laboriously proceeding through vestry records from 1853-1921, many items of value did emerge. In some instances these items were copied without reserve from the Rev. Richard H. Wilmer (1849-1852) who found no register upon taking charge of Meade Parish and merely recorded such facts in relation to the Parish prior to his rector ship as he has been able to glean from others. One hundred and fifty years later this “small history” gatherer understands that perfectly.
In 1853-1870, while the Rev. Kinsolving was in charge, Johns Parish was organized. A Civil War had also raged through the land. Births and deaths of those at home had been recorded. We know that Aldie’s Free Church had become a hospital as had many homes of communicants who lived near area battlefields. Dover and Aldie Mills were among the grist mills along Little River, which, used to grinding grain for neighboring farmers, turned to furnishing food for the Confederate, and in many instances, the Union Army. Young sons of the Parish went off to war; the Rev. Kinsolving himself was taken to prison — perhaps because of earlier secession sermons.
Aldie became known as “a hornet’s hive.” General J.E.B. Stuart, Col. John Mosby, and Aldie vestryman William N. Noland who formed Champe Rifles, all became Turnpike heroes. But there was no mention of the Civil War in the minutes of the vestry of either church. There was few worship services held during the war. The vestries did duly meet at the Aldie directory, usually on Sunday afternoons, but only to elect new members or reinstall old ones. After 1865 the Aldie Episcopalians continued their worship at the Free Church in Middleburg which still welcomes them to its homecoming each year on the second Sunday in June.
In 1877, then Rector William Johnson pleaded with the vestries to give consideration to his ideas of having communicants make an annual pledge to the church which they could pay through monthly installments put into the Sunday collection plates. They did — and we still do. Pledge Sunday is the first Sunday in November.
So—very little that we can see from the records happened in Johns Parish from the period following the Civil — or War Between the States — until 1903 when the Rev. Thomas C. Darst took charge of Johns Parish. He wrote, “There was no evidence to show that the minutes of form in Aldie Vestry Meetings had been recorded.”
During that cut-off period of information one very important thing did happen, however. The Church of Our Redeemer was built and in 1903 the following vestry was elected: Henry Fairfax, John D. Moore, Littleton Turner, J. Thomas Watson, Edward Wilson, Parker Wilson, Alfred L. B. diZerega joined the vestry the following year. The entire membership was of Aldie residents joining the long list of Aldie names like Berkeley, Adams, McVeigh, Noland, Oden, Carter, Harris — who since the beginning had been part of Aldie’s church. Goode, Tyler, Hutchison…
From then on the Redeemer records are complete, although factually spare in some years: During World War I there were only quarterly vestry meetings; during World War II funds were at such a low ebb it was difficult to keep up necessary payments; vestries cut back on all but war-time emergencies. Parishioners and their personal church records are duly noted, (housed now in our new Parish House library.) Many family names have been added through the years while many more have sadly been subtracted.
Aldie remained a small rural town, its residents involved mainly in farming, milling, carriage and wagon building and store-keeping until not too many years ago when Route 50 allowed for better transportation into the government centers in Washington. The Mercer-planned canal from Alexandria to Aldie did not ever get built, but Charles Fenton Mercer who founded the village left many good reminders of his life in his corner of Virginia when he was legislator and U.S. Congressman, a pusher for roads and free education. As his village and its environment grows and changes, so does the Church of Our Redeemer.
In 1996 there came the biggest change of all. The Churches of Johns Parish became unyoked, each going its separate way in its ministry while remaining a part of the same parish. Until then Emmanuel and Our Redeemer had shared the same rector — and there must be a word here about some of those who since 1921 have pastured Aldie’s flock.
The Rev. David Campbell Mayers — lived in Aldie’s Rectory and was a pillar of the entire community, even joining with his wife in 1923 the Aldie Horticultural Society, founded to beautify the village, to interest school children in horticulture and to grow bulbs for sale in city markets. Rev. Mayers was a legend in his twenty-five year stint with Episcopalians of Aldie and Middleburg.
As was the Rev. Ernest (Froggy) de Bordenave, 1955-1967, who goes down in our history as exceptionally well-loved. An astute businessman (“He knew everybody so could talk anyone into lending us their house for Aldie’s Old Homes Tours.”) He was highly respected as a town leader, and believer in equal rights between the races. Froggy’s fearless stance on integration is one of our Parish’s proudest memories.
S. Neale Morgan followed Froggy in his public spiritedness and support of justice for all. During his years in Middleburg and Aldie (he first lived in the Rectory in Middleburg, then he and his wife Mary Ann built their own home in Aldie.) and the FISH organization — a volunteer effort to buy and deliver food for the needy, help pay medical and utility bills and to drive those who need it to medical facilities. Redeemer is active with FISH and it remains on the church list of outreach supports. For another twenty-five years the Rev. Morgan was among us — his sermons were superb. He brought in ordained women as his assistants, and he brought about many other changes — but so quietly one would never guess!
Outreach funds come from one of the two Parish jointly supported activities of long-standing. The Rummage Sale is held in May; its funds are contributed to various places that need financial help including Seven Loaves, Abused Women’s Shelter, the Aldie Fire Department, and the Bishops Fund for World Relief, etc. The Christmas Shop will celebrate its 50th year in November, 1999. It has grown in leaps and bounds through the boundless energy of the women of Johns Parish, and more recently, its men. Funds from the Christmas Shop are divided among the two churches; they are shared with the Diocese, Charities, Episcopal missions overseas, and ecumenical outreach of the National Church.
Our Redeemer’s own fundraiser – the Shrove Tuesday’s pancake supper help relieve the burden of the church treasury. Not for funds but for fun — we have the Blessing of the Pets in October, and the Parish Picnic in September.
A small history cannot be complete without a calendar of events.
The Event celebrated in 1999 is the completion of the Parish House. In 1996 it was the unyoking of the churches and Redeemer’s call to its very first own priest-in-large. The Rev. Jane Wallace Barr accepted that call. She is was then our three-quarter time priest.
In a focus statement written by the vestry in 1995,m this family-sized multi-generational congregation had a vision:
- To expand the congregation’s size and to increase the number and variety of programs for worship, study and fellowship for children and adults.
- To rely to a greater extent on pledges to pay operational costs, devoting fund raising proceeds to outreach.
- More hands-on Congregational participation.
- To have a full-time Priest.
- To be a light in the community, providing a place of faith and fellowship for all.
- To promote spiritual growth and rejuvenation.
- To be a place where the Gospel is preached, and God glorified through the Savior, Jesus Christ.
- To build a Parish Hall to provide space for an office, Sunday School classrooms and fellowship activities.
In March, 1997, the Parish Hall plan was presented to the Congregation by the Building Committee. It was accepted as a design that complemented the beautiful little church of Our Redeemer and its construction moved steadily onward.
Chancel furnishings given by Hamilton Rodgers Fairfax, 1896
Sanctuary lights given in memory of Mr. and Mrs. A.L.B. diZerega by their family.
The dark blue vaulted ceilings with walnut trusses denote the heavens;
the wall color denotes the air; the carpet color denotes the earth. The
stained glass windows speak of Our Redeemer’s links to its past and
Lucy Berkeley Moore
Everyone worked hard, dreamed and prayed for a building that is crucial to Redeemer’s future. At every turn, on every hand, there seemed to be a Guardian Angel who helped Our Redeemer reach its goals.(After 110 years, could Henry Fairfax still be watching after the little church he’d built on the corner of his land?)
That those goals have been reached so quickly is almost a miracle in itself. The Congregation believes it is blest, that God has been extremely good to us, that in the future we must continue to be His responsible stewards.
Redeemer is on its way. And one thing is certain: Not one word has been left out of its current vestry and congregational reports; not one picture has been left un-taken. When the next history of Redeemer is needed, it can be taken from the Internet!
The Rectors of Johns Parish
The Rev. Philip Slaughter ? – 1844
The Rev. William Meade Jackson 1844 – 1849
The Rev. Richard Hooker Wilmer 1849 – 1852
The Rev. Ovid A. Kingsolving 1853 – 1870
(Johns Parish formed in 1853)
The Rev. William Meade Dame 1870 – 1874
The Rev. Magruder Maury 1874 – 1875
The Rev. William H. Johnson 1876 – 1878
The Rev. Arthur S. Johns 1878 – 1887
The Rev. John Cary Ambler 1888 – 1889
The Rev. E.S. Hinks 1890 – 1896
The Rev. R.K. Massie 1896 – 1898
The Rev. Claidius F. Smith 1898 – 1902
The Rev. Thomas C, Darst 1903 – 1905
The Rev. John F, Coleman 1905 – 1908
The Rev. Alexander Stuart Gibson 1908 – 1916
The Rev. Robert A. Goodwin 1917 – 1920
The Rev. David Campbell Mayers 1921 – 1946
The Rev. Spence Dunbar 1946 – 1954
The Rev. Ernest A. deBordenave 1955 – 1967
The Rev. Philip C. Bentley 1967 – 1969
The Rev. S. Neale Morgan 1969 – 1994
The Rev. Theodore W. Johnson Interim
The Rectors of The Church of Our Redeemer
The Rev. Jane Wallace Barr 1996 – 1999 – Priest in Charge
The Rev. Michael Moore 2000-2001 – Interim
The Rev. John Thomas Sheehan 2001 – present – Our first full time Rector
L to R: The Gibson Altar Vases, the Mary Chinn Moore Vases,
and the Henry Fairfax Vases.
Henry Fairfax Memorial Pulpit with the
Eleanor Traux Harris Bible
Special Gifts to Our Redeemer
Gift Date Donated By
Parcel of land from Oak
Hill Estate, Aldie 1890 Henry Fairfax
Additional parcels from
Oak Hill 1956 and Mr. and Mrs. Thomas
Church of Our Redeemer 1890 Henry Fairfax
Walnut and Pine Church Pews 1896 Hamilton R. Fairfax
Chanal Furniture: Pulpit 1896 Hamilton R. Fairfax
and Priest Chairs
Baptismal Font 1916 Congregation, In Memory
of Henry Fairfax
Pair of Brass Altar Vases 1916 Congregation, In Memory
of Henry Fairfax
Silver Bread Box 1916 Congregation, In Memory
of Henry Fairfax 18
Hymnal Board 1916 The Fairfax Family, In Memory of
John and Mary Fairfax
Walnut Alter 1919 Martha Alice diZerega,
In Memory of William Irving diZerega
Brass Lectern 1923 The diZerega Family in Memory of William and Martha A. diZerega
The Alms Basins (Brass) 1909 Presented by the family of Baroness Von Bratton diZerega
The Altar Cross (Brass) 1890 The diZerega Family in memory of Augustus Zerega diZerega
Altar Candlesticks (Brass) 1920 The family of Alfred L.B. diZerega and Alicia A. Gasquet diZerega
Brass Altar Lectern 1891 The family of Martha Gasquet Percival
Lectern Bible 1937 The family of Eleanor Truax Harris
Prayer Table: Epistle 1941 In memory of Theodore Clement
Prayer Table: Gospel 1936 In memory of John Douglass Moore
Communion Chalice 1936 The family of John D. Moore and
Mary Chinn Moore
Brass Altar Vases 1961 The family of Mary Chinn Moore
Silver Paten 1950 Memory of Robert Littleton Moore by his family
Silver Wine flagon The Rev. David C. Mayers,
Pastor, 1921-1946 19
Cut Glass Water Cruet Memory of Kate Drayton Mayers
Intinction Chalice 1933 Mr. and Mrs. William R.
Silver Wafer Box 1933 Mr. and Mrs. William R.
Hanging Lamps for Sanctuary 1952 Presented by the family in
Mr. and Mrs. Alfred diZerega
Sterling Silver Altar Vases 1958 In memory of Mrs. Alice
Sterling Silver Alms Basins 1958 In memory of Lydia Person
by her family
Seven-Branch Iron Candelabra 1958 In memory of Theodore C. Moore
Crystal Water Cruet 1993 In memory of her father by Neale
and Mary Ann Morgan
Cut Crystal Oil Cruet 1995 In memory of her father,
Thomas A. Caulk by
Memorial Album of Our Redeemer 1996 by Alworthy U. Caulk
The Sacristy Cabinets 1975 In memory of Mrs. Alice
Hutchison by her family 20
Brass (low) Vases 1970 In memory of Mrs. Edward Gibson by George Gibson and and her family
The stained glass window above The family of Mrs. Moore
the altar, In Memoriam Lucy
Berkeley Moore 1856-1910
The stained glass window in the 1989 By Ellen L. Russell
Rear of the sanctuary, In Memoriam
Kneelers and Cushions
Individual kneelers, many of them designed by Emmanuel’s Emily T. Sharp and worked in needlepoint
by their donors, adorn the pews of Our Redeemer. The kneelers at the Altar rail were specially designed by Mrs.
Sharp to denote the little white church as a part of this rural countryside and its relationship to Oak Hill. They
are dedicated to the ministers, vestries, Altar Guilds, and organists who have served Our Redeemer.
Needlepoint cushions on the priest chairs were dedicated in 1997 in honor of the Rev. S. Neale Morgan.
The Our Redeemer Kneeler at the Communion rail.
Trees and Plantings
The landscape for the new parish hall was designed by parishioner Lizbeth Prins. Many of the trees and shrubs were donated in memory of or in honor of a loved one, or cherished friend.
A Friendship Garden will be a special feature of the new landscaping for the Church and Parish Hall. A knot garden, designed by Lizbeth Prins, will feature rows of boxwood, in keeping with the older boxwood and perennial plantings.
A crabapple tree and a barberry hedge given by the Tyler family and an apple tree planted for Our Redeemer by Bishop John Baden are among the horticultural treasures of the church.
Altar Linens, Hangings, Hymnals and Prayer Books
Altar Linens and hangings have been lovingly made by hand and given in memory of Our Redeemer communicants. The hymnals and prayer books are all gifts to the Church.
One very hot summer, John Wallace put air conditioning in the church. One Christmas, the Snyders gave colonial hurricane lamps to decorate the windows. Interim rector Ted Johnson left Altar copies of the Gospel and Book of Common Prayer as gifts.
The beautiful patio appeared as if by magic. The sign, the parking lot, the outdoor lighting, garden benches and a table, a library and whatever Our Redeemer needs just seems to come!
The tradition of giving continues with the completion and September 26, 1999 dedication of the Parish Hall—what more can we ask.