Founded in 1911 to serve the newly developed Ghent neighborhood in Norfolk, St. Andrew's began its life in a small wooden chapel. The congregation's inaugural service was held on November 19, 1911, and its first rector, The Rev. Myron Marshall, came aboard a few weeks later. Growth came quickly, and by the end of 1912 the fledgling parish counted more than 100 families as members, reflecting an emphasis on Christian Education and the nurture of children that continues to this day.
The current church was built in 1921. It was designed by the noted architect John Kevan Peebles, a parishioner of St. Andrew's. During the Great Depression in the 1930s, St. Andrew's briefly merged with two other Ghent-area Episcopal parishes, Christ Church and St. Luke's Church. The merger dissolved in 1940, and St. Andrew's was reestablished as an independent parish.
In 1948, members expanded the 1921 structure with a two-story brick parish house that contains the present-day auditorium with stage, classrooms, and church offices. In 1959, a narthex was added to the sanctuary entrance on Graydon Avenue, and in 1968, the church constructed White Hall, a social hall named for the parish's third rector, The Rev. Beverly Tucker White. Most recently, in 2003, members commissioned 18 new Stained glass windows in the nave. Together, they depict scenes from the corporal acts of Matthew 25, a call to service that inspires our ministry in the world.
Outreach to the community has long been a central value at St. Andrew's. In the 1980s, The Rev. Charles Joy and several parishioners became key supporters of early HIV/AIDS ministry in Hampton Roads, efforts which evolved into the formation of Access AIDS Care and led to our congregation receiving two community awards. We continue to support that ministry, along with hosting a homeless shelter two weeks each year and many other outreach activities in the community.
St. Andrew's has also been known as a center for sacred music and the arts. Now in its 22nd year is our annual Flower Festival, a celebration of floral art, sacred music, and community fellowship that takes place each year around the Feast of All Saints.
Throughout its history, St. Andrew's has been blessed with remarkable stability. Of the six rectors called by the church since its founding, three served more than 20 years. The longest-serving rector, the Rev. Charles Austin Joy, retired in 2007 after 25 years of gracious leadership. The Rev. John Rohrs served as rector from 2009 until 2022. The Rev. Charles Lane Cowen was called to serve as priest in charge of St. Andrew's in July of 2023.