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From the Archives: St. Barnabas’ and St. George’s Churches, the Cathedral’s Nucleus Congregations

by Mary Klein, diocesan archivist

“A step in the realization of the scheme so fondly cherished by the late Bishop Paret to erect a Protestant Episcopal Cathedral in Baltimore was taken yesterday when the congregations of St. Barnabas’ and St. George’s Churches united, forming the first cathedral congregation.” So read a newspaper article of June 12, 1911, reporting on a service held in the newly completed Cathedral undercroft, which consisted of the Communion Service, a sermon by Bishop Murray, and a choir of men and boys singing “Ancient of Days”.

The cornerstone of St. Barnabas’ Church, located at Biddle Street and Argyle Avenue, had been laid on All Saints ’ Day, 1859, as the Missionary Church for the North Western district of the city.  Their 1901 parochial report listed over 600 communicants, with 153 pupils in the Sunday School. Yet on May 10, 1904, Bishop William Paret wrote the following letter to the Standing Committee, “The vestry of St. Barnabas’ Church, Baltimore, finding themselves almost entirely surrounded by Colored people, whose numbers are steadily increasing, have determined, if possible to sell their Church, and to remove to some other part of the city.”

St. George’s Church

Meanwhile, St. George’s Church, at Pressman and Division Streets, which had been built in 1882 as a memorial to Bishop Whittingham, seemed to be prospering as well. In 1900, the vestry authorized enlarging the facility by erecting “a two-story brick building 19.5’ X 15’ on the organ side of the church.” The parochial report estimated 309 communicants, and 103 in the Sunday School. However, in November of 1904, the vestries of St. Barnabas’ and St. George’s voted to “consolidate” the two congregations, each keeping their own vestry, paying its own allotment to the diocese, and worshipping together at St. George’s.

St. Barnabas’ Church

St. Barnabas’ building was sold in 1907 to the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Baltimore, which immediately placed it under the auspices of “the Josephite Fathers, the Catholic society of priests who conduct parishes for colored people in this country”. The congregation, still called St. Barnabas’, worshipped there until 1931, when they joined St. Pius’ Church on Edmondson Avenue, and the church sold to a Baptist congregation. The building was turned into a garage in 1941, and demolished when Martin Luther King Blvd was built in 1982. A Diocese of Maryland Anglo-catholic parish, Mt. Calvary Church, purchased St. George’s Church in 1910, to become the home of one of their black missions, St. Katharine of Alexandria, which still worships there today.

After St. Barnabas’ sold their building in 1907, the vestry purchased a lot at St. Paul & 35th Street as a site for a new church building for the combined congregations of St. Barnabas’ and St. George’s; however, in May of 1908, a deal was reached with the Cathedral Foundation: St. Barnabas’ would sell their lot, give the $9000.00 to the Cathedral Foundation in exchange for worship space in the soon-to-be-built Cathedral. Hence, the congregations of St. George’s and St. Barnabas’ gave up their identity, their buildings, and their assets in order to become part of the vision for a diocesan Cathedral, and the nucleus of a worshipping congregation. But, human beings in particular and societies in general, are complicated things! That self-sacrificing act was tempered by the reasons the congregations left west Baltimore – fleeing the steadily increasing numbers of African Americans moving there – to relocate to the newly emerging affluent Guilford area. Since the devastating downtown fire of 1904, institutions (including Johns Hopkins University) and homeowners sought higher ground away from the gritty harbor and dilapidated row houses into areas with housing restrictions.

Henry Vaughn of Boston was chosen as the architect for the grand design for a Cathedral complex, which would take up the whole block at University Parkway  from Charles Street to St. Paul Street. In 1908 he was instructed to submit a sketch showing the proper location of the buildings which should include “a Cathedral, the Bishop’s House and Library, and a Synod Hall, which is to be used as a Pro-cathedral and church for the congregations of St. Barnabas and St. George.” The Undercroft was ready to occupy as the first worship space by June, 1911. The cornerstone of the superstructure of the Synod Hall was laid in 1920, but post- World War I financial problems caused building to be suspended; then the financial crash of 1929 caused a further dip in financial resources. However, by November of 1931, building of the Synod Hall began and was quickly ready to occupy for Christmas Eve, 1932, and was paid for and consecrated in 1955. The hopes for a huge Cathedral complex died hard, but by the 1960’s, all concerned were content with the present building and the early plans for a huge complex were finally laid to rest.

The blue print for the original vision of the cathedral.

Clagget Camp and Conference Center offering meals for furloughed federal employees

Our diocesan camp and conference center is offering complimentary meals available for federal employees in need of assistance during the government shutdown.

If you are a federal employee who is not getting paid at this time, you and your family are invited to join the Claggett as their guest at any of their conference center meals this week, January 22-27, 2019. Please call or text to reserve your spot 301.691.8048.

Episcopal Advocacy Day is February 6 in Annapolis. Join us.

Episcopal Advocacy Day 2019

Please join us for the 6th Annual Episcopal Advocacy Day in Annapolis. All are welcome. Register here.

Episcopal Advocacy Day in Annapolis is quickly approaching. Join us in Annapolis on Wednesday February 6, 2019 to learn about our legislative priorities such as clean energy jobs, the environment, affordable health insurance, criminal justice reform and more! Meet your legislators and network with your peers. Breakfast and Lunch will be provided. Members of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland advocate for issues of care of creation and care of God’s people on the local level that follow the legislation, theology and policies of The Episcopal Church.

Registration starts at 8:30 AM with a Continental Breakfast meeting in the Miller Senate Building – President’s Conference Center, West I & II reception room.

The event is free to attend and remember to bring your photo ID to enter buildings.

Register here.

Prayers and action to help those affected by government shutdown

from The Episcopal Public Policy Network and Office of Government Relations

As the shutdown stretches on, impacting federal workers, their families and communities, and those that rely on some government services to meet their needs, many of you have shared messages of hardship and hope from around The Episcopal Church with us on social media and through church communications.

“This shutdown is hard for many in our congregation and community. Federal employees, government contractors, family members, and others are feeling the strain. Some of you have told me that, even though you’ve lived through government shutdowns in the past, this time feels particularly scary. Others have told me that you’re scrambling to figure out your finances, calculating the toll on your savings in the absence of a paycheck. This is a time to come together, to take care of one another, and to take care of our neighbors.” – The Rev. Ledlie I. Laughlin, St. Columba’s, Washington, DC

Episcopalians across the country are responding to the needs of those impacted by expanding their outreach, providing food assistance, and offering pastoral care to address the anxiety many are experiencing.

“We are opening our food pantry beyond our usual hours for all who are suffering as a result of lost salary, as well as those who will lose SNAP and WIC benefits when the funds dry up. And prayer – lots of prayer!” – Christ Church, Millwood, VA

“It isn’t impacting me directly, but I am volunteering at our food banks.” – @megan_ticer

“Today I am reaching out to my interfaith colleagues in the region to draft a letter to our public officials asking that they end the government shutdown immediately… In the meantime, people are suffering, and we cannot turn away. As Christians, we are called to respond with compassion, for God’s compassion knows no borders.” – The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, Bishop of the Diocese of Washington

In particular, we would like to draw your attention to this litany for those affected by the shutdown written by The Rev. Dahn Dean Gandell (Church of the Ascension, Rochester, NY) so that it might be a source of peace in these uncertain days.

What is your community doing to help those affected by the shutdown? What impacts are you feeling? We encourage you to share your story with your elected officials through this alert.

Disrupting the livelihood and well-being of Americans by shutting down the government over a border security debate is unacceptable.
We call on you to reach out to your members of Congress and urge them to end the shutdown now.

Additional Resources

Episcopalians across the country respond to federal shutdown’s impact (ENS)

From the Rector’s Desk, The Rev. Ledlie I. Laughlin (St. Columba’s, Washington, DC)

Bishop of Washington’s Response Regarding the Federal Government Shutdown, The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde

A Litany for Those Affected by the Government Shutdown

Interfaith Leaders Implore Trump, McConnell and Pelosi to End Shutdown

In Case You Missed It

Episcopal Church policy on immigration and refugees

Immigration Debate and the Government Shutdown

Defend Access to Asylum

New Opportunities

End of 115th Congress Updates

Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute. Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Proverbs 31: 8-9

Episcopal Church Office of Government RelationsVISIT US


A Message from Bishop Sutton from the Holy Land

January 8, 2019

This is not the way we’re meant to live. Walls won’t get us what we really want.

Everyone wants to live in secure communities, free from violence, and free from terror. We want to live in peace, enjoying good and healthy relationships with neighbors who want the same things as we do. This is how we were meant to be in community: living in harmony with each other, with God, and with all creation.

But walls of separation, based in fear and mistrust, do not get us there.

As I write this, I’m looking out over Jerusalem from my window, this divided city on the border between Israel and (a hoped for) future Palestine. I’m leading a pilgrimage from the Diocese of Maryland to the Holy Land, as I have been doing about every two years since becoming bishop. Bringing pilgrims to a foreign land is one of the best ways to get us to gaze into a mirror at ourselves, our own lives in our own land.  And when I take a long look into that mirror, what do I increasingly see?


The pilgrims and I were blessed to be in Bethlehem, the City of David, celebrating Christmas with our Palestinian Arab Christian brothers and sisters on January 6 (which is Christmas in the Eastern liturgical calendar, and the Feast of the Epiphany in our Western church year.)

We celebrated the birth of Christ there, and were thrilled to be able to prayerfully kneel and touch the stone manger in the grotto of the Church of the Nativity where 2,000 years of Christian tradition holds that the Son of God was born into the human family.

But the Prince of Peace was born into a city that is now walled off by ethnicity and religion, preventing its inhabitants from being able to travel freely to other parts of the nation. A wall that was erected in fear to keep some populations from others painfully divides the city of Jesus’ birth, who himself was born into a poor family who would quickly become refugees.

Whether or not intended to provide security for Israel’s Jewish inhabitants, or a way to justify and protect an illegal land grab by settlers, the effect is the same:  economic desperation, deprivation, anger, and daily humiliation for the Arab inhabitants of Bethlehem. This is not the way they should have to live.

Nor is it the way that the Jewish citizens Israel should live. The Wall dehumanizes both them and their Arab neighbors, causing both sides to become less than they were intended to be by God – and how they themselves want to be. Who among us wants to be an oppressor? And who among us wants to live as a perpetual victim?

And yet, as I gaze into that mirror to look at what is happening halfway around the globe, I see the same moral conflict in my own country that I see in the Holy Land. We as Americans imagine ourselves to be a generous, welcoming people for those who want to make a new life here, but we are also afraid that these newcomers will cause us harm. Whether from fear or racism – or both – we don’t want them here.

So, let’s build a wall.  Even if that wall causes hostility, suspicion, violence and hatred between peoples. Even if that wall sacrifices our core values, and causes us to act in ways contrary to a free, egalitarian and democratic society.

Every nation needs and deserves secure borders, but building massive, fortified, concrete or steel walls do not get us there. They foster more anger and violence, not security and peace.

And who cares that history shows that walls of separation, fear and mistrust do not work, and eventually are all dismantled or destroyed either violently or by popular demand? (Or they become tourist attractions for later generations.). If they make us feel safe, then isn’t that good enough? Well, not to God.

Jesus said, “The first commandment is this: Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is the only Lord. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)

This summary of all of Jesus’ teachings is based on love, which casts out all fear. But how can we love God and our neighbor if we turn away from God and try to prevent ourselves from knowing or even meeting our neighbors?

Let me be clear. Walls – either psychological or physical – that are intended to keep individuals or nations from encountering and engaging with the poor, the oppressed, the dispossessed, refugees, and other marginalized persons are inherently immoral, unjust and unworthy of people of faith. They make a mockery of the gospel of Jesus Christ and of God’s vision for a just, loving and harmonious world. The are deeply offensive to those on the other side of that racial, ethnic and economic divide, serving as a daily reminder that they are seen as threats and not fellow human beings.

If it’s not your thing to live according to what God wants, and you believe that the Bible is merely a collection of folk tales that do not have to be taken seriously, then please just take it from those who have to live and work on either side of walled hostile borders: you really don’t want to live that way.


From the Holy Land

January 2019