St. Philip’s Chapel evolved as a mission to serve the now-freed black parishioners in the Cumberland area who, until 1890, had been attending Emmanuel Parish, Cumberland. The 1891 purchase of a former coal company building at the corner of Water Street and Baltimore Avenue by Emmanuel soon became the home of a thriving congregation adopting the name “St. Philip’s” in honor of St. Philip, the deacon who baptized the Ethiopian eunuch and carried the faith to Africa.
Throughout its history, St. Philip’s Chapel was a hub of the African-American business and professional community, not only of Cumberland, but also for those in Ridgeley (WV) and Meyersville and Somerset (PA).
In 1891, Mary Perry, a local social activist, and her brothers bought land on Virginia Avenue in South Cumberland and built the Memorial House of the Holy Cross. A succession of deacons-in-training provided clerical services until 1927, when stable clerical leadership was established with the Rev. Louis Ewald and later priests.
In 1966, after many years of financial difficulty, St. Philip’s Chapel was certified defunct and extinct. As a result of the closure and de-consecration, many members of the St. Philip’s community gravitated to other churches in Cumberland and the surrounding areas of Maryland, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Some gravitated to Holy Cross; others gravitated to Emmanuel; still others simply stopped attending church. The (Rt.) Rev. Charles J. Longest, who served Holy Cross from 1973 to 1989, attempted to foster healing and community for the parishioners during this period, but separation and attrition continued despite his efforts and those of later vicars and rectors.
In April 2014, the congregation of Holy Cross-St. Philip’s Church and the Rt. Rev. Eugene T. Sutton arrived at a consensus that it no longer could continue to exist as a separate viable community at 610 Brookfield Avenue. Its final worship service was June 15, 2014, after which the members of that community sought other communities with which to become worshipping members.
Holy Cross-St. Philip’s Church
612 Brookfield Avenue
Cumberland, Maryland 21502
Church closed June 2014