Tuesday, April 21, 2015

James Solomon Russell Feast Day celebrated

By the Rev. Terrence Walker, Trinity, South Hill

The Rev. Dr. John L. Ghee and Bishop Hollerith 
The Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia celebrated the Feast of the Venerable Doctor James Solomon Russell, Sunday, March 29, 2015, at the New RZUA Headquarters in La Crosse, Virginia. A native of Mecklenburg County, Russell attended Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute and taught school in North Carolina where he learned of the Episcopal denomination and became a convert. His most notable achievement, along with founding at least twenty churches in Southside Virginia, was the establishment of Saint Paul's College (1888-2013) in Lawrenceville, Virginia, an institution that trained and educated individuals who impact local and wider communities to this day.

Officiating at the service was the Right Reverend Herman Hollerith IV, Tenth Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia. Among the other clergy of the Diocese was the Rev. Dr. Joseph N. Green, Jr., who was recognized for over sixty years of service to the Church and to the larger community.

In his sermon, the Reverend Doctor John L. Ghee, Presiding Bishop of the RZUA Churches of America, focused on the concept that divine purpose comes with a plan and with the resources necessary to accomplish that purpose. Referencing Russell's autobiography Adventure in Faith (Morehouse Publishing, 1936), Ghee enumerated the series of events that led to a nationally recognized college in rural Brunswick County, Virginia, being founded by a former slave. Ironically, Russell was also involved with the founding of the RZUA Churches of America.

Present for the service were three generations of the Russell family. Elected officials from Brunswick and Mecklenburg Counties were either on hand or represented at the celebration. A number of local businesses and individuals were sponsoring agents for the commemoration. Music was provided by the Sharon Baptist Church Mass Choir. Following the service, attendees retired to Trinity Episcopal Church for a light repast.