St. John's Episcopal Church is one of the oldest continuously worshiping bodies in the US. This is NOT why you should visit this church.
This historic building has been lovingly restored/preserved and is staffed by amazing volunteers who will explain everything from the graves to the stained glass window that looks like a giant $ (dollar sign). This is NOT why you should visit this church.
The program begins with a performance on the historic organ and a patriotic sing-along (words provided). This is Not why you should visit this church.
This congregation has adopted the mission of preserving and presenting history. This is the actual building where the disbanded members of the Virginia Delegates met in 1775 and Patrick Henry declared "Give me Liberty, or Give me Death!"
This congregation supports a troupe of very talented professional actors to portray the rogue representatives. Every Sunday, from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, and on the Sunday closest to the anniversary of the original speech, and on Veterans Day weekend, a re-enactment of the session occurs, on the very place where that ringing phrase passed into our patriotic lexicon.
The actors are first-rate. They begin in their original seats, interspersed with the spectators, who are invited to participate with a hearty "Here, here, Colonel Washington!" of "Nay, sir -'tis folly!"
Visitors can greet the actors afterward in the graveyard. Actors generally remain in character for the meet and greet.
You should visit because it's an incredibly moving experience, with passion practically bouncing of the walls. I take my class of adult ESOL learners and their families every August and many of my students are in tears by the time it's over. Many of them know revolution and civil war first hand and they truly understand the meaning of this recreated experience.
The church's website provides access to the SOL activities supported by this event, for those of you with kids in Virginia public schools.
Groups of 10+ may purchase reserved seats in advance for $5 each. Otherwise, it's FREE! (First come, first served.) Come early - we always get there an hour early.
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