The present historic church on the St. John’s campus was built in 1860, a year before the start of the Civil War. It was consecrated on October 28, 1860, by the Right Rev. William Rawlinson Whittingham, bishop of Maryland. While primarily populated with small farms, there were two large slaveholding plantations; the “Dorsey” and the “Elioak,” in Howard County. The Dorseys were instrumental in the formation of the church. Information is not clear if enslaved people built the church. What is known is the “gallery,” now the choir and organ loft, was called “the servants gallery.”
The church was home to many of Howard County’s leading families: Dorsey, Tolley, Ligon, Mackubin and Clark. St. John’s has always been strongly identified with Howard County, and its population and its programs reflected the changes in the county. In 1952 the parish hall was built, and was then one of the few large gathering places in the county. In 1965 St. John’s Parish Day School opened with early childhood education. In 1974 the historic church was expanded to double its size in response to the need to serve a growing population. This was not without its challenges as “old Howard County” and “new Howard County,” residents, while not hostile to each other, were not always sure of how best to interact.
In 1964 James Rouse announced his intent for the planned city of Columbia, where racial and ethnic diversity would be the norm and interfaith centers would bring cooperation between the faiths. As Columbia came into being St. John’s continued to change. There would be an increase in African-American members. A growing international membership from other Anglican provinces continues at St. John’s, which offers a Korean language worship service.
Both St. John’s Church and St. John’s Parish Day School, the Lower School being established in 2002, reflect racial and ethnic diversity. The challenges before us involve how to continue inclusive worship, incorporate different traditions and carry on the work for justice.
Learn more: http://www.stjohnsec.org
St. John’s Church, Queen Caroline Parish
9120 Frederick Road
Ellicott City, MD 21042