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Holy Spirit’s Long History Of Helping Appalachia


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Alena Gabbe and Chloe Mathewson with some of items Holy Spirit delivered to young women in Appalachia last year.

The Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit has run mission trips to Appalachia for many years, rebuilding houses and lives. Last year, the church delivered a carload of fancy dresses and accessories to the impoverished region after a drive led by two Verona High School students.

But nobody knew how much of a history Holy Spirit had with Appalachia until parishioner Jane Eliasof began digging in the archives in preparation for the church’s 90th anniversary celebration this year.

The fifth anniversary booklet of the church, dated May 20, 1934, noted that “During the past year twelve beautiful dresses were made by the ladies and sent to the Mission School at Dante, Virginia.” The town, located in the southwestern Virginia, is the same place that was the focus of last summer’s mission trip.

The dresses made by Holy Spirit parishioners 85 years ago must have been something special, muses Eliasof. “The booklet goes on to say that women in Verona thought they were so nice,” she says, “that they placed orders for themselves!”

Holy Spirit held its first service in the building on the corner of Grove and Bloomfield avenues on January 6, 1929. It then built a real church on Gould Street, holding its first service there on October 18, 1931.

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citranohttps://myveronanj.com
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Forbes.com. Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected].


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