THE LIVING CHURCH • January 29, 2012
at St. Paul’s, Richmond,on September 20. Bishop Johnsreported that the Domestic Missionary Committee of theEpiscopal Church in New York City offered financialassistance to the diocese, but while stating its gratitude,the diocese refused the offer.This was also the Council that structured the dioceseinto convocations, and it adopted a paper encouraging thereligious instruction of “colored” people. All clergy andlaity were called upon to “engage with renewed effort inevery available means that would contribute to their well-being.” In 1866 the council created the Standing Com-mittee on Colored Congregations, to assist colored mem-bers of the church who wanted to form new and separatecongregations.Dashiell was elected to this committee andwas probably its most active member for many years. According to the Rev. George Freeman Bragg, Jr., his-toriographer of the Afro-American Group within the Epis-copal Church, there “were more colored communicants,and colored clergy in the State of Virginia,than in any of the other dioceses of the [Episcopal] Church.” Braggwrote that the 1869 council acknowl-edged the formation of St. Stephen’sChurch in Petersburg. Dashiell himself noted annually the progress of St.Stephen’s to the council and com-mended the work of its white rector,the Rev. Giles B. Cooke, a former con-federate major on Gen.Robert E. Lee’sstaff.Cooke, Waddell, Dashiell, and theCommittee on Colored Congregationsworked diligently over the years toassist the development of African American communities within the dio-cese. At the 1867 council the Com-mittee on Colored Congregations and Dashiell reportedthat progress, though reasonable and steady, was slow.The size of the diocese was huge. At that time the dio-cese still consisted of the communicants in the newstate of West Virginia. But the highest density of its col-ored population was in central and southeastern Vir-ginia. Richmond had the most difficult task because thearea was “almost wholly preoccupied by other denom-inations” and postbellumpolitical excitement washigher there than anywhere else, meaning that it was dif-ficult to plant Episcopal churches. Still, one separateblack congregation was worshiping in its own building.In Norfolk four white and five black teachers workedseveral Episcopal day schools with 450 scholars.Petersburg was an entirely different story.In the sum-mer of 1865 a Sunday school was opened and grew rap-idly to 300students. Another school had to be opened tohandle the growth of students— former slaves eager toacquire an education and to learn the gospel. The rollssoon grew to more than 450. The St. Stephen’s Churchschool would eventually become the central location forcontinuing education of black laity and clergy.By 1870another phenomenon was taking place in the Southsidecounties of Virginia.Race relations turned sour as Congressional Recon-struction in the South met with resistance from whites. Although Virginia escaped official Reconstruction,itseffects from throughout the rest of the South werenonetheless present. African Americanmembers of whitechurches, particularly in Mecklenburg, Lunenburg, andBrunswick counties, were more or less thrown out of their congregations.In Boydton, a group of Methodists found themselveswithout their old church and were left on their own. Aminister from the African Methodist Epis-copal Zion Church named James R. How-ell came to Boydton and helped the dis- placed worshipers form a newdenomination known as the Zion Union Apostolic Church. This historical versionis documented by the U.S. Bureau of theCensus account of churches in the South(1909). Another historical account,according to theology professor EstreldaY. Alexander of Regent Seminary in Vir-ginia Beach, identified Howell as an elderofthe African Methodist EpiscopalChurch who movedfrom the Tidewaterarea to Boydton. In either case the situa-tion of the displaced congregations was the same.The Zion Unions spread quickly throughout the South-side of Virginia and the adjoining North Carolina counties. A few miles south of Lawrenceville in Brunswick Countya new Zion Union church was built near the farm of Mr.and Mrs. F.E. Buford. Mrs. Buford, also known legendar-ily as Miss Pattie Buford, had her own Sunday schoolclass on her father’s plantation during the period of slav-ery. Whatever her reasons, Miss Pattie confronted theZion Unions, saying their worship services were loud.She also learned of their anti-white theology, mostly bytheirleader,James R. Howell. She offered to teach ZionUnion children and adults; her offer was accepted. A
T. Grayson Dashiell
SECRETARY AND ENVOY
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This was alsothe Council thatstructured the dioceseinto convocations,and it adopteda paper encouragingthe religiousinstruction of“colored” people.