For our joint service at St. Phillips this Sunday Nov 13th 2011,at 9:00 AM, included is some history of the church.
The vision for St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, Charles Town, first originated in the late 1860s. In 1876, it was reported that $200 had been secured for a building “for work among the colored people.” The chapel was built in 1887. Until the chapel was completed, the “colored” Sunday School, directed by its first superintendent, Bushrod Washington, met on the second floor of the town hall, a building still standing on the corner of Washington and George Streets. The church also served as an emergency community hospital during the smallpox epidemic in the early 1900s.
When the first West Virginia legislature met in 1863, it agreed to educate ‘‘free colored children,’’ but the proposition was left unfunded. With the condition that white and black children should not be taught in the same schools, West Virginia’s second constitution in 1872 affirmed the state’s commitment to the education of African-American children. Although most school boards cooperated, court action sometimes had to be undertaken or threatened to force some to provide the needed support for black education. Among the major difficulties was the dearth of teachers. In the beginning, whites served, as did black teachers from neighboring states, particularly Ohio. The first formal effort to train black teachers in West Virginia came at Storer College in Harpers Ferry. The college was begun in 1865 by the Freewill Baptist Church. In 1881 the state agreed to contract with Storer to train African-American teachers. Until the state’s black land grant college, West Virginia Colored Institute (now West Virginia State University), was founded in 1891, Storer College was the only institution in the state preparing blacks for the teaching profession. Later, Bluefield Colored Institute (now Bluefield State College), established in 1895, joined the other two in this mission. These institutions also provided secondary education In addition to black public education, several private educational efforts were attempted. Storer College continued in Harpers Ferry until 1956; St. Phillips Academy was operated for a time by St. Phillips Episcopal Church in Charles Town; the Baptist State Association operated a school at Hilltop in Fayette County; and Catholics operated St. Peter Claver in Huntington. In 1919 the state created the position of state supervisor of Negro schools and appointed a Negro Board of Education. In 1933 assistant superintendents of Negro education were appointed in counties having 50 or more black teachers. In addition to the push for more voice in the operation of their schools, blacks also struggled for adequate buildings and materials, for equal salaries for teachers, and for a full nine-month school year.