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The U.S. National Episcopal Historians and Archivists (NEHA) recognized St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church on June 20 during the Tri-History Conference held at the University of Toronto, Canada.

StTomBookCover 2
Saint Thomas Book Cover

The Tri-History Conference is a joint event hosted by NEHA, the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church, and the Episcopal Women’s History Project.

In 2016, parishioner Samuel J. Richards wrote the book titled: The Middle Holds: A History of St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church, Canonsburg and the Community it Serves, published by Closson Press.

The NEHA awards committee recognized the Canonsburg book with its Silver 2019 ‘Laurence D. Fish Outstanding Parish History Award’. The NEHA prize is awarded during odd-numbered years. The prize committee consisted of five members, including distinguished Miami University of Ohio professor Peter W. Williams.

The Middle Holds was written to coincide with St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church’s 150-year anniversary celebrations. It chronicles the struggles and triumphs of the Jefferson Avenue congregation as it wrestled with questions of finance, leadership, theology, and mission.

Canonsburg priest-in-charge, the Rev. Canon Cathy Brall remarked, “We are very blessed to have Sam as a member of our congregation and thrilled that his scholarship and writing have been recognized by this award. St. Thomas is a small but amazing parish of loving, gifted, and diverse people seeking to follow and grow in Jesus Christ.”

Richards’ work drew from local church records, archives of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, and interviews with past and present clergy and members of the congregation.

In addition to details about Episcopalians, including the 25-year tenure of David Kinsey as lay leader and rector, chapters include background about early Canonsburg including Scotch-Irish dominance, the Rev. John McMillan, and the importance of Jefferson College. The text includes photographs and appendices with sermon examples ranging from 1947 to 2013 and membership rosters and baptismal records useful to genealogists.

A Bentleyville native, Richards teaches history at Shanghai American School in China. He earned degrees from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (B.S.Ed., cum laude), Salisbury University in Maryland (M.A.), and the University of Scranton (M.S.Ed.). Richards’ current project is a study of Trinity Hall School for Boys, now the site of Trinity High School.

Copies of The Middle Holds are available from Closson Press





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