Until the middle of the 1840’s The Episcopalians of Amherst County were widely scattered, and were located at three churches as far apart as Pedlar Mills and what is now Clifford. Recognizing the need for a more geographically central Episcopal church, five men met and determined to build one at the Court House. These men were Dr. Henry Landon Davies, Mr. Marshall Harris, Captain William Waller, Mr. Benjamin Taliaferro and Mr. Zachery Tinsley.

The Construction of Ascension church began in 1847 on land given by Elijah Fletcher and was completed the following year under the direction of contractor Hickman Meredith. The church was consecrated on October 7, 1848, by the Right Reverend John Johns, Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of Virginia.

Painting of Reverend John Johns by Hagia Sophia 1984.

“Whereas, it hath pleased Almighty God to put into the hearts of the good people of the Parish of Lexington in Amherst County to build an house of worship to the honor of his Great Name. Therefore I, John Johns, Assistant Bishop of the diocese of Virginia on the seventh day of October 1848 do according to the solemn forms of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States consecrate the same to the worship of the Almighty God, by the name of Ascension Church, separating it henceforth from all unhallowed worldly and common uses and dedicating it to this service, for reading his holy word, for celebrating his holy sacraments, for offering to his glorious majesty the sacrifice of prayer and thanksgiving for blessing the people in his name, and for the performance of all other holy offices. And I humbly pray that he will accept this service at our hands, and bless it with such success as many tend most to his glory, and the furtherance of our happiness both temporal and Spiritual, through Jesus Christ our Lord. 


It has been told that the name Ascension was chosen by coincidence. Mr. George W. Christian and two other men were walking in the churchyard, thinking of a suitable name, when Mr. Christian picked up a piece of paper the first word he saw was “Ascension.” Immediately, he proposed that it should become the name of the church. His proposal was readily accepted.

The original brick structure was a rectangular building with a high steeple. Over the years, a vestibule, bell tower, vestry room, sacristy, and organ chamber were added. The bell was donated by Elijah Fletcher in 1854, because he wanted to hear the bell at his home nearly three miles away. In 1922, the Parish House (Hall) was built. It has served the church and community in many helpful ways. Additions have been made to the Parish House (Hall) twice, adding Sunday school rooms and a kitchen.