From its founding, St. Paul’s has established a reputation for community outreach efforts. In its early years, it established the St. Paul’s Church Home for Girls (1859-1928), the Belvidere Mission School (1873-1892), and the St. Paul’s Church Home for Aged and Infirm Women (1873-1908). In 1905, St. Paul’s began hosting midday community Lenten services, accompanied by lunch starting in 1920, with profits benefitting various charities. In the 1960s, St. Paul’s established and housed the Oral School for deaf preschool children (1967-1970) and the Adult Development Center for the disabled (1967-1983).
In the 1970s, St. Paul’s expanded efforts in community outreach, co-founding the Downtown Community Ministry with other downtown churches, which still provides significant aid to the city’s unsheltered and food-insecure population; implementing St. Paul’s Isaiah 58:12 program, which helped fund the Fulton Medical Clinic and the Richmond Street Academy; and supporting the Peter-Paul Development Center founded by John H. Coleman Jr. (1972-present). St. Paul’s sponsored and housed the Richmond Urban Institute, formed in 1979 to promote dialogue and cooperative programs between black and white Richmonders.
In 1996, St. Paul’s announced its new motto, “Proclaiming Christ in the Heart of the City.” The church sponsored the Prison Visitation Program and funded Spring Hill house, a transition home for formerly incarcerated women. Two years later, the church launched the groundbreaking Micah Initiative, a multi-layered program that serves at-risk students in an underfunded elementary school. Twenty-five years later, the program has expanded across the city to dozens of faith communities, serving 23 Richmond elementary schools.
In 2007, St. Paul’s began a global missions ministry in the village of Mwitikira, Tanzania, assisting in projects affecting clean water, food supply, education, and healthcare. During the COVID-19 pandemic, St. Paul’s established a Relief Fund to support non-profits in the Richmond area serving vulnerable populations. St. Paul’s outreach work is ongoing with a three-pronged approach focused on inspiring and equipping parishioners to act, engaging with others to explore systemic problems and foster beloved community, and empowering initiatives working for justice and repair.