St. Thomas has been an important and influential part of
the religious heritage of Reidsville for over one hundred and fifteen years! Prior to the
Civil War, Reidsville consisted of only one small store, a tiny tobacco factory, a tavern
and a very few homes. But the need for a secure military supply route prompted the
construction of a railroad linking Greensboro, NC and Danville, VA which brought the first
train through Reidsville on May 20, 1864. It wasn't long before an Episcopal family
followed. The Martins were the first Episcopalians to settle in our town, and the Filimans
followed them. These families began holding family prayer reading in their homes and were
soon being visited by an Episcopal priest from Leaksville (now Eden) about ten miles away.
As the town began to grow, more families joined the services, which had to be held in
churches of other denominations.
On January 7, 1883, St. Thomas held its first official service, with thirteen members on
its roll. The McCargoes, the Galloways, and the Andersons to make up the original families
joined the Martins and Fillmans. Several descendants of these founders are active in St.
Thomas to this very day!
A frame church was constructed adjacent to the railroad tracks (considered a desirable
location at the time) about 1885, but due to industrial encroachment, the building was
sold in 1900. In 1902 a frame church building was built on a lot purchased on Lindsey
Street. One of the members, Mrs. George Lee Irvin, was quoted as describing the church as
"just an ugly square box of a building and no amount of reverent sentimentalizing
could make it otherwise". Obviously this structure would not serve the church for
In 1915 a brick church building was completed which has
served us well ever since. A parish member gave the credit for the undertaking to
the new rector, Edgar N. LeBlanc: "His fine enthusiasm gave us the courage to attempt
a brick church in place of the frame building.... He was a never failing stimulus to our
flagging spirits, and through him what seemed the impossible was accomplished."
In 1955 a concrete block parish house was constructed (primarily by the laymen of St.
Thomas) which contains an open meeting area, classrooms and a kitchen. In 1991 the church
purchased an adjoining piece of property and in 1997 completed the construction of a
$324,000 addition. Through the generous stewardship of the congregation and friends of St.
Thomas the entire project has been paid for.
Although St. Thomas is small in numbers relative to the Baptists, Methodists and
Presbyterians of Reidsville, our church has been a powerful influence in the life of our
city. Three different members have served as mayor during the past twenty years. Our
members have been chairpersons and served on the boards of numerous community
organizations that provide assistance to those in need.
St. Thomas, through a diocesan financial grant, began a nutrition site in our parish house
that became the model for such programs throughout our county. Our church began a soup
kitchen in our parish house which was so successful that a permanent site was constructed
and is now supported by numerous volunteers from all over the community.
In 1924 Mrs. Manton Oliver, a member of St. Thomas, wrote the following description of our
church which is as true today as it was seventy-five years ago:
"There is no lovelier spot in Reidsvllle than our little church; there is no
sweeter serenity than within its walls; there is no ritual so beautiful as the one it is
our privilege to use, and with God's help we'll grow and strengthen, working ever the
coming of His Kingdom upon earth."
link to see some of St. Thomas' former Rectors