About Us

Merchants Hope Episcopal Church
"A Community Shaped by Episcopal Practice since 1657"

Worshiping God,   Loving One-Another,   Serving the world

We are

                                     a place of quiet worship,
                                            a spiritual home for all  who enter,
                                                   a community who believes in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

                We pursue love of God and love of neighbor.
                We encounter God through Vibrant Worship, and 
                     in humble service to one another and to the world, and
                     in the shared joys and sorrows of living in an imperfect world, and
                     in the unique presence of God in the resurrected Christ.

                                       We believe God's love and light are at work,                                                                                                         moment by moment, in every encounter 
                                                              and in every person.    
        Please join us as together we seek God's way and God's will.

Meet Our Priest in Charge and His Wife, Debbie

I am delighted to welcome you to our faith community. You will discover that our parish community consists of families, couples, married and single, male and female, young and old. All of us are on a journey of faith; no one has arrived—as St. Paul so eloquently asserts: “I am not already perfect . . . I press on.”

 I believe we experience God’s presence in many ways during our worship service—sometimes it may be most meaningful just to sit in silence and hear God speaking.  At other times singing and praying opens our hearts to God’s presence.   It is my intention to honor each individual’s spiritual journey as unique, and to draw us together in the worship of God through our shared participation in Morning Prayer and the Holy Eucharist. 

 My goal as pastor, priest and preacher is to enable each parishioner to discover and deepen his/her relationship with God. I believe the central message of Christianity is that Jesus gave his life for all that we might all discover how to live vital, vibrant, other-oriented, loving lives.  I believe that our individual faith journeys need a community to support us as we attempt to hear God speaking to us as we seek to serve Him with our unique gifts.

Our History

Standing serenely on a country road in Prince George County, 5 miles East of Hopewell and sheltered by ancient pines, Merchants Hope Episcopal Church is a gem of the earliest colonial American architecture, and the home of one of the oldest active Protestant congregations in America. Originally organized as a community parish in the mid 1600's, today’s members worship in the church structure that was constructed around 1740 that replaced an earlier wooden structure. Analysis of wood samples taken from beams of the current building roof trusses point to a construction date of the early 1740's. The building site for Merchants Hope is reported to have been given by three London merchants who owned a ship and nearby plantation of the same name. 

Historians have described Merchants Hope as being “constructed of red colonial brick in the Flemish bond, with glazed headers and measuring about 60 feet by 25 feet inside, with its walls being 22 ½ inches or 2 ½ brick length thick. There are four round-topped windows on the north side, three on the south and two in the Chancel, with a smaller window high on the west wall to furnish light to the gallery there.” The interior walls and ceiling are of restored colonial-style oyster shell plaster. The center aisle is paved with original English “flagstones” that were used as ship ballast in their voyage from Portland, England to the New World. The church has no chimney as no provision was made for heating it. 

The Merchants Hope’s silver communion set was made in Charleston, South Carolina, and dedicated in 1875 on the 200th anniversary of the parish. A 1611 translation of the King James Bible, printed in 1639-40 is on display for special occasions. 

Four 20th century dates are of significance to the present church appearance. In the mid 1950’s the Merchants Hope Foundation was established to serve as a perpetual source of funds to preserve and maintain the church property. In 1974 a Tetragrammaton, originally erected as a decorative motif in St. Mary Abbots Church (Anglican) in Kensington, England in 1696, was given to Merchants Hope under the condition that it be restored. It was faithfully reconstructed using gold leaf over molded plaster under Merchants Hope supervision and positioned above the altar--between the rounded clear-glass windows and the two tablets of the Decalogue. It is the only authentic English Tetragrammaton in existence in North America. The word “Tetragrammaton” is a four-letter word that  in Jewish/Christian usage  refers to the four Hebrew consonants JHVH used as a symbol for Jehovah.

In 1977 the vestry authorized an entire renovation of the interior of Merchants Hope. The new pews and new pulpit were modeled after a composite of five early colonial churches, and were constructed of yellow pine. An ancient pine in the rear of the church property that had been killed by lightning was used by Philip Green, builder and vestry member, to make the beautiful wainscoting within the church - stained to match the color of the pews and pulpit. This wainscoting has a unique colonial flavor in being placed horizontally on the walls rather than vertically. 

The installation of the pews, wainscoting and pulpit was completed in Merchants Hope Church in December of 1978 under the direction of the Vicar of the church, the Rev. Charles N. Moore, Sr, An interesting circumstance that adds to the history of continuity of the church and congregation is that the present Priest-in-Charge at Merchants Hope is Charles N. Moore, Jr., son of Vicar Moore—now deceased.

In 1990,a parish hall was constructed that serves the congregation with church offices, a nursery and Sunday School rooms, a kitchen and a large meeting room for social and church related activities.

As Merchants Hope moves in its fourth century of service to the local community, a deep appreciation of the magnificent history of the Parish and the Church Building is coupled with an active and vibrant 21st century ministry that serves to memorialize all those who have preceded current members through active and continuous outreach to the community of which Merchants Hope is a proud member.