St. Peter's Church in the Great Valley has named, as its new rector, the vicar of a Jacksonville, Fla. mission.

After a 22-month search, St. Peter's heard the Rev. Anne Horne Bridgers lead her first worship services on the first Sunday of this month.

The Episcopal church is off Church Road, between the Great Valley Corporate Center and Yellow Springs Road.

The Rev. Nancy Webb Stroud, the associate rector, said the congregation was formed in 1700, has worshiped at its current location since the 1730s and now numbers 825.

Into the fall, the Rev. Bridgers said, she hopes to be attending "cottage meeting styled gatherings" throughout Chester County to hear parishioners' "hopes and dreams for our future in this incredibly beautiful setting."

Bridgers, 56, came to the priesthood relatively late.

She was an elementary school teacher after graduating from the University of Alabama-Birmingham. She and her husband, Dixon, a lawyer, are the parents of four grown children, a son and three daughters.

While a lay leader at a church in Pensacola, Fla., she decided to enter the priesthood, and did so in 1995.

Bridgers' first assignment after graduating from Virginia Theological Seminary in 1998 was as a curate at Trinity Episcopal Church in Mobile, Ala.

In 2001, she became the canon at St. John's Cathedral in Jacksonville, Fla., and, in 2002, she became its associate dean.

Since July 2006, she has been vicar at Christ Church San Pablo, a mission in Jacksonville.

The last St. Peter's rector, the Rev. John G. Tampa, left in July 2006, Webb said, to become rector at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Southern Pines, N.C.

Contact staff writer Walter F. Naedele at 610-701-7614 or at wnaedele@phillynews.com.