St. Thomas, the Southern Branch Chapel, can trace its beginning to the first English settlers in Jamestown. In 1661 a “Chapel of Ease” on the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River was established to accommodate the growing population. This was under the umbrella of the Church of England.
The Episcopal presence in the area lapsed after the American Revolution because residents were no longer taxed to support “The Church.” However, 1956, the modern church was re-established as a mission of St. Bride’s in Chesapeake for the growing area of Great Bridge. For over 60 years, St. Thomas has served the Great Bridge community with an inclusive Episcopal presence. Our original church was a simple, white frame building. This was a gift from another church in Kempsville with the stipulation that St. Thomas move the building to the land which they had purchased.
Growth continued and Taylor Hall was built for fellowship and classrooms. The building was named in honor of Dr. Norman Taylor whose widow generously supported the building fund.
In 1975, St. Thomas moved from mission status to parish status.
St. Thomas provided the Great Bridge community with its first kindergarten as none was available in the public schools of the area.
Ours is a long and rich heritage that is exclusive to our church in the Chesapeake area.