Saint John's Church is a congregation of Christians worshiping in the Diocese of Maryland of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America and within the Anglican Communion. The congregation maintains a full regimen of daily worship in accordance with The Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church. The purpose of Saint John's Church is the worship of Almighty God, the disciplined spiritual formation of its members, and evangelical witness to a new life in Christ Jesus through service to others. This high calling is attempted through the Holy Eucharist as a covenant of renewal and reconciliation; in the Daily Office of the Church as a sacrifice of praise in prayer; in the offering of our personal time, fortunes, and abilities for God's service in the community; and by engaging in serious study of our rich Christian heritage. To further these ends and as a witness to all, the congregation supports a liturgical musical program of highest quality to preserve to our use in our day and for generations to come the spiritual treasury and deep well of the Anglican musical heritage. Our mission is to take up our part in restoring all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.
Adopted by the Vestry of Saint John's Church, 13 October 2013
If you are coming to visit us for the first time, it's good to know a few things ahead of time.
BEFORE YOU WALK IN THE DOOR
AS YOU WALK IN THE DOOR
DURING THE SERVICE
AFTER THE SERVICE
The Reverend Father Alistair So, SOSc, Long Term Supply Priest
The Reverend Deacon Natalie Hall Conway
Mr Thomas Hetrick, Master of the Choirs and Organist
Mr John Edward Roach, Rector's Verger
Ms Anne Whitmore, Sacristan
Mr Michael John Simon, Senior Sexton
Mr Francis Richard Pluciennik, Sexton
Mr Kevin Harris, Sexton
Mark Paul Keener, Esquire, Rector's Counsel
The congregation of Saint John's Church - part of the Episcopal (or, Anglican) Church - has worshiped together on the same site since 1843. At that time the area now known as the Waverly and Charles Villages - the neighborhood in northeastern Baltimore city ministered to by Saint John's Church - was actually the small village of Huntingdon, Maryland, a collection of about seventeen great estates and houses, and the more modest homes of a new and emerging middle class. (The estate names of Huntingdon are synonymous with old Baltimore: Montebello, Clover Hill, Homewood, Guilford, Greenmount, and Homestead.)
The village, which extended from Huntingdon Avenue (in the present day neighborhood of Remington) on the West to the Harford Road on the east; from Huntingdon Avenue (now 25th Street) on the south to Boundary Avenue (42nd Street) in the north, was annexed to Baltimore City in 1888 and the post office was renamed Waverly, after Sir Walter Scott's 'Waverley' novels. Charles Village was created out of this area approximately one decade later.
In November 1843 the Reverend W. A. Hewitt was sent to the village of Huntingdon by Bishop Whittingham at the request of one Mr Thomas Hart who wished to have some of his grandchildren baptized without making the journey to the parish church, Saint Paul's, in Baltimore. The bishop was eager to establish new congregations in Maryland which would embody the ideals of the "Oxford Movement," (which evolved from the Tractarian Movement) a spiritual renewal movement making itself strongly felt throughout the Anglican Church in England and elsewhere. Saint John's Church was born with those baptisms and that spiritual renewal.
The first services were held in an old revolutionary war barracks located some thirty yards southwest of the present church building; on 10 July 1844, Saint John's Church was legally incorporated as a diocesan mission church within the bounds of Saint Paul's parish and by 1845 it was an independent congregation. The congregation laid the cornerstone for its first church in April of 1846 and saw its consecration by Bishop Whittingham on 11 November 1847 and it was determined that the church should be a "free" church - there were to be no pew rents, ever.
For the first two years the rector returned his stipend to the treasurer as his offering toward the building expenses (he also installed the furnace at his own expense, assuring the warm devotion and gratitude of his flock). However, in 15 May 1858, just eleven years after its consecration this lovely new building was gutted by fire and burned to the ground.
The congregation was poorer, but undaunted, and the cornerstone of a new building, the present church, was laid on 11 September 1858 by their faithful father in God, Bishop Whittingham. The first service in this building was held on 22 May 1859, and its consecration was on All Saints' Day, 1 November 1860. The congregation prospered, as did its parishioners, and a Parish House (1866) and a Rectory (1868) were added, all in matching 'gothick' style.
The church, and for the most part the other buildings, were built according to the principles of the Cambridge, England, Ecclesiological Society which devoted itself to the revival of the 'gothick style' in architecture, and all the appurtenances appropriate to the style and dignity of that setting. The Oxford Movement brought with it a matching revival of dignity and ceremonial in the worship of the church and the interior decoration reflected this.
The original church on this site, patterned after Saint Michael's, Long Stanton, in England, was a pure example of English 'country gothick' and this design involved a long nave, lancet windows, thick low medieval walls, and a high, steep-pitched roof. There was a south porch and relatively small sanctuary at the east end.
The present building preserved most of those features, and was enlarged in 1875 adding transepts (to create the classic cruciform shape evident today), a baptistery (the present Lady Chapel), sacristy, enlarged sanctuary, and a rather glorious bell tower and spire. The interior decoration was finally completed in 1895 in the same Victorian gothic revival style.
After several "modernizations" of the decor, neglect, and eventual whitewash(!), the restoration of much of the original decoration was begun in 1983-85 by the Reverend R. Douglas Pitt, the eleventh rector. This work was resumed in 1994 under the Reverend Jesse L. A. Parker, twelfth rector, and continues as of this writing. All of the restoration work has been accomplished by the well-known decorative artist Janet Pope, of J. Pope Studios, Baltimore, which specializes in historic decorative restoration.
In June 2016, after serving this parish for 25 years as rector, the Reverend Parker retired. In September of that year, we welcomed the Reverend Jeffrey Charles Hual as our Priest-in-Charge. "Father Jeff," as he was known, came to us following a curacy at Saint Paul's Parish, K Street, in Washington, D.C. Father Jeff served at Saint John's until it was declared an imperiled parish by the Diocese of Maryland. The congregation is now working through the imperilment with the goal of developing long term financial stability. The parishioners of Saint John's are quite proud of our long history of serving Our Lord through ministry and worship, and we look forward to continuing these efforts for many years to come, as well as finding new opportunities for ministry in the city of Baltimore and the world.
The seal is called "great" to distinguish this rendition from other renditions which contain only parts of the whole, such as the eagle, the vesica and shield, or shield with or without motto.
The shield which forms the heart of the seal is taken from the flag of Saint John, a dark blue field with a silver cross. The shield is surmounted by a heading of silver (white) which contains three distinct flowers growing from a single vine. The center flower is the Passion Flower, symbolic of Christ Jesus; the left flower is a stylized type of rose, representing the Virgin Mary, whose traditional flower is either rose or lily; the right flower is Saint John's Wort, borrowed from Saint John the Baptist to represent our Saint John, who has no traditional flower. Together, the three flowers depict the scene of the Crucifixion, with Christ on the Cross and Our Lady and Saint John beneath at either side. It at the same time a pictorial representation of the words of Jesus found in John's Gospel, "I am the vine, and you are the branches" John.15.5.
The blue shield has at its center the silver (white) cross of Saint John the Evangelist, dividing the shield into four quadrants. Superimposed on this silver cross is the red Cross of Saint George, patron saint of England, which is itself a representation of the Cross of Christ, and represents our heritage from and binding ties to the Church of England and the Anglican Communion.
In the upper left quadrant is the Eagle, symbol of Saint John, our parochial patron saint. This representation is identical to and meticulously copied from the rendering in the ceiling over the Altar in the present church.
In the upper right quadrant is an open Bible. The Bible is opened to the first chapter of Saint John's Gospel and reads: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us." John.1.1, 14. The seal has been devised so that, when sufficiently enlarged, this text is legible in three languages: the original Greek, the Church's traditional Latin, and in English. This represents Saint John's work as an Evangelist.
The lower left quadrant below the central Cross, where Our Lady is traditionally depicted in portrayals of the Crucifixion, contains the stylized monogram "AM". This is the cipher of the Blessed Virgin Mary, taken from the angelic greeting "Ave" found in the Luke 1.28 and from the first initial of her name Maria, both in the traditional Latin. It also has the further traditional meaning of "Auspice Maria", meaning "under Mary's patronage". The references to the Virgin Mary in the seal are a reminder that she was given by Jesus on the Cross to be Saint John's mother, and into his care. In the Gospels, she is both the model of the Church and a symbol of the Church. In the Communion of Saints she holds primacy of place and honor, and is an intercessor for the church. These references are also a strong reminder of the place of the Blessed Virgin in the history of our salvation and of the respect, devotion, and honor in which she is held by the people of Saint John's Church.
The lower right quadrant contains a Celtic harp which symbolizes our long parochial history of love for excellence in the music of the Church, particularly that of our English heritage. It represents the musical program which has been and is our parish's primary outreach mission.
Each quadrant is bounded by a gold border containing fleur-de-lis. The fleur-de-lis is taken from the walls in the sanctuary of the church where it is both a symbol of the Holy Trinity and our Trinitarian faith, and of the Virgin Mary, who is our model of faithfulness at the sacrifice of the Cross and present on our Altar.
Below the shield is the parish motto, adopted by the Vestry from John's Gospel John 8.32 and inscribed in the traditional Latin: "Veritas vos liberatbit", translated as "The truth shall set you free".
The shield is placed on an heraldic device called a "vesica", which identifies to all, again using the ancient Church's universal Latin language, that this is the seal of Saint John's Church, originally in the village of Huntingdon, now the city of Baltimore, in Maryland, and giving the date of its founding, 1843.
All of this is supported by an heraldic depiction of the eagle of Saint John, which offers to the world from one claw the Chalice and Host, the Bread of Life and Cup of Salvation John 6.51, 55-56, and from the other the cross-surmounted Orb, symbol of the reign of God in Christ over all Revelation 5.11-14.The artwork for this, the official seal of the parish, was executed as a gift to Saint John's Church by local Baltimore graphic design artist and friend of Saint John's, Gene Sartori, of Gene Sartori Designs.