Richard Channing Moore
Virginia Theological Seminary




Early Life


Virginia Seminary








    The Virginia Theological Seminary and the Episcopal High School were founded on "the hill" not far from Alexandria during the tenure of Bishop Richard Channing Moore.

"As early as 1810 the Rev. Richard Channing Moore, D.D., afterwards Bishop of Virginia, in a sermon preached in St. Paul's Church, Philadelphia, earnestly presented the benefits which would accrue to the Church 'from the establishment of some school in which instruction in the Scriptures, and theology in general, with suitable preparation for the ministry, might be obtained'."

from: The History of the American Episcopal Church, 1587-1883 by William Stevens Perry. p.506


    The Southern Churchman, which appeared on November 19, 1841, in deep mourning, says that when the news of Bishop Moore's death reached the Seminary, "A meeting of the Faculty and Students was holden in Prayer Hall on November 16, 1841 and the following preamble and resolutions were adopted:

"Whereas, It has pleased Almighty God to remove by death the Rt. Rev. Richard Channing Moore, D.D., Bishop of this diocese and president of this Seminary

"Resolved That we deplore with deepest sorrow his loss and shall ever cherish the memory of his apostolic zeal in the discharge of the holy functions. The fervor and unction with which he dwelt upon the things which concerned the Lord Jesus Christ, which, together with his many private virtues, greatly endeared him to our hearts.

"Resolved That as members of this Institution, we have reason to feel especially his loss in as much as from the foundation of this Seminary to the time of his death, he was its constant and devoted friend and patron, and always manifested the warmest interest in its prosperity."


"The Rt. Rev. Dr. Richard Charming Moore was very closely connected with the Theological Seminary in Virginia in many ways.

"In the fall of 1814 Rev. Dr. John Augustine Smith, President of the College of William and Mary, met Bishop Moore on the street in New York, and suggested to him that a Chair of Theology be established in the College at Williamsburg. This suggestion marks the beginning of the Theological Seminary in Virginia.

"When in 1815 a communication was received from the President of the College of William and Mary, suggesting the expediency of establishing a theological professorship in that institution, Bishop Moore gave the suggestion enthusiastic support in his address to the Convention.

"Bishop Moore presided at the Conventions of the Church in Virginia when in 1821 it was determined to establish a Theological Department at the College of William and Mary; when in 1822 a Constitution for a Theological School was adopted; when in 1823 it was determined to move the Seminary to Alexandria and to retain Rev. Dr. Reuel Keith as Professor, the experiment in Williamsburg having failed. He was presiding over the Council when in 1825 the Board reported a detailed course of Theological study; and when, in 1827, the Trustees reported that they had "determined to purchase or erect in some healthy situation near Alexandria, but in the State of Virginia, a house, or houses, sufficiently large to accommodate two Professors and twenty students" and also, when, in 1828, they reported the present property purchased.

"When the proposition to establish the Virginia Seminary was first discussed Bishop Moore was reluctant to give his assent and for some time seems not to have been very enthusiastic with reference to the endeavor. He felt that it might seem disloyal to the mind and intention of the General Church expressed in General Convention in establishing the General Seminary. When, however, Bishop Hobart became an advocate of Diocesan Seminaries, and the issue in controversy was settled, Bishop Moore became an ardent and devoted friend of the endeavor to found and upbuild the Virginia Seminary. In seeking to evaluate the special contribution made by Bishop Moore to the Seminary, it is clearly evident that his successful efforts to rebuild the fallen Virginia Church created the need, which the Seminary was called to supply, for a large increase in the ministry. When he came to Virginia most of the Churches were closed and many of them had been abandoned. His zeal, his indefatigable energy, the eloquence of his preaching, and the potency of his prayers roused the dormant Church to life and made the need for well trained ministers everywhere clearly apparent.

"The recognition of this need quickened the disposition of the people to contribute to the building and support of the Seminary and above all helped to turn the attention of many young men to the consideration of Holy Orders.

"Then, too, the earnestness and unstinted devotion with which he gave himself to his stupendous task, the eloquence of his preaching and the enthusiasm and optimism with which he faced dark days and made them bright and beautiful days in the life of the Virginia Church, could but stimulate the minds and hearts of the students in the Seminary, many of whom were looking forward to their ministry under his Episcopal supervision."

from: Rev. W. A. R. Goodwin's History of the Virginia Theological Seminary

"No clergyman can be very successful who does not form an intimate fire-side acquaintance with his parishoners. It is from frequent visits to the houses of his members that he secures a place in their affections."
© Charles C. Hall 2002