THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH U.S. and the United Presbyterian Church merged in 1983 to form the Presbyterian Church (USA). Following the merger, presbyteries and synods were realigned. The Synod of the Mid-Atlantic comprising presbyteries in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia was formed with offices in Richmond. After the Synod's formation, the Presbytery of the James came into existence in 1989, having been created from three different presbyteries: Blue Ridge, Hanover and Southern Virginia.
A Transitional Steering Committee was appointed to begin laying the groundwork for the new Presbytery that was to serve central Virginia. The steering committee asked members of the emerging Presbytery to consider that they were a "merger of varied people of faith with different memories; moving forward into a new beginning and a new creation." The name Presbytery of the James was chosen, calling attention to the James River flowing throughout the geographic area of the new Presbytery.
Presbytery of the James officially came into existence July 1, 1989. The Rev. Dr. William S. Morris was the first executive presbyter/stated clerk. The Presbytery's first meeting was held July 11 at First Presbyterian Church in Richmond. During Dr. Morris' term, the Presbytery's former office building on U.S. Route 1 was constructed on land owned by the former Hanover Presbytery. In 2006, the Presbytery voted to sell the property on Route 1 in Henrico County. In October 2007, the office relocated to 3218 Chamberlayne Avenue, Richmond, Virginia.
After Dr. Morris' resignation to become pastor at Campbell Memorial Presbyterian Church in Weems, the Rev. William M. Boyce, Jr. served as stated clerk. Later, the Rev. John Rickard accepted the call to become interim executive. Following their resignations, the Rev. James Cushman became the interim executive presbyter and stated clerk.
In July 1997, the Rev. H. Carson Rhyne, Jr. began a three-year renewable term as the Presbytery's general presbyter and stated clerk. Having recently completed a decade of ministry, most of which has been spent in transition and reorganization, Presbytery of the James is now looking and working more toward the future.
A Strategic Plan detailing specific goals was created for completion between 1999-2001. By December 2001, at least 50 percent of all Presbytery training events were held in districts or clusters of districts. By the same deadline, each of the nine districts had participated in a local mission project as a district. (In the mid-1990s, churches were divided into nine districts based upon geography to cultivate close relationships and shared ministry opportunities.) By December 2001, congregations had begun the redevelopment process of the General Assembly, PC(USA).
Presbytery of the James developed its newest vision and mission plans and began implementation in 2010. Nominating regions have replaced districts and teams have replaced boards. Purpose Groups bubble-up in areas of special interest. Our vision as disciples of Jesus Christ is to be involved in Mission, Leadership, and Communication & Coordination efforts serving our Lord.
After two decades at the Presbytery, Rev. Carson Rhyne retired in November 2018. At the October stated meeting, Presbytery of the James voted to approve Rev. Fred Holbrook as the interim general presbyter/stated clerk to succeed Rev. Rhyne. Rev. Holbrook began his call December 1.