July 15, 1995, was Mark’s and Virginia’s first day at St. James’s Church. They say it has been a wonderful 25 years, making music with so many wonderful people.
Recently, Mark and Virginia looked through the rosters – they were amazed to see how many choristers have been singing with them for 10, 15, and 20 or more years. And at least 6 singers (Jeanne Lapierre, Taffy Williams, Scott Ellett, Robin Price, Rick Mellott and Scott Corwin) have been with the Whitmire’s from the beginning!
When Mark and Virginia came to St. James’s, they felt when you bring children into the life of the church, you have a stronger church. Their contribution to this has been through music. The Children’s Choir (grades 2-5) was expanded under Mark and Virginia, and they started the Youth Choir (grades 6-12) and Cherub Choir (pre-k to 2nd grade). The Whitmire’s also started the West Gallery Choir and the Guitar Ensemble. The Parish Choir already existed, but has been enriched during the Whitmires’ 25 years.
Mark is the Director of Music and Virginia is our organist, however, they share directing responsibilities of our various choirs. Mark directs the Parish Choir and the Children’s and Cherub Choirs, while Virginia directs the West Gallery Choir, Youth Choir, and Guitar Ensemble.
Mark and Virginia are incredibly talented musicians. They excel in a variety of genres – classical, rock-n-roll, jazz, bluegrass, standards, and more. Mark has written countless songs that have been a part of all the choirs’ repertoires, Vacation Bible School, and various mission trips. Virginia composes as well, arranges pieces for the various ensembles, and has spent countless hours planning the beautiful Advent Lessons and Carols services, Bluegrass, Dylan, and U2 masses. The Whitmire’s brought the Jazz Mass to St. James’s – which started as a yearly event and has been offered as a monthly Sunday afternoon service at various times.
The Whitmire’s always leads music with a worship component and has been instrumental in so many outreach projects through music, including regular visits to the Virginia Home to sing with the residents.
There is so much the Whitmire’s have created during their 25 years at St. James’s, we would need to write a book. But one thing that stands out is what thoughtful people they are. Here is a sampling of what folks had to say:
“Their attitude, commitment, and mentoring, not just with music, but with their support, and spirituality will forever be remembered by me. Congratulations on 25 years!”
“You were gifts to St. James’s and to the Richmond community. Your generosity, joy, and commitment are infectious and a wonderful reminder of what can be accomplished through faith and dedication to one another. We are blessed by your presence and leadership!”
“Thank you for your constant commitment to the word, the music, and the song.”
“Congratulations Mark and Virginia! And most importantly, thank you for building such an amazing and welcoming community!”
“Congratulations! What a wonderful ministry and legacy! As you know, the choristers and parish are eternally grateful to you both!”
“Your lives and ministries to all of us have been a gift that is greater than even that “pearl of great price”. Thank you seems inadequate to express our gratitude to you both, but it will have to suffice for now. If music be the food of love, play on….”