The Mother Church of Western Maryland

When Emmanuel Parish consisted of a handful of faithful settlers on the American frontier, the congregation was supported by other congregations in Frederick, MD and later Romney, VA (now WVA).  When Emmanuel was formally recognized as a Parish by the Diocese of Maryland in 1803, its parochial bounds included all of what is now Allegany and Garrett Counties – several hundred square miles.

Out of all this territory, this congregation developed a number of other churches.

The first Rector served little congregations at Flintstone, Old Town and Cresaptown, MD.  Gradually, those groups disappeared, as did Emmanuel’s missionary congregations at Pinto, Eckhart and Little Orleans. However, St. Peter’s in Lonaconing, St. George’s in Mt. Savage, St. John’s in Frostburg, St. James’ in Westernport, St. Matthews in Oakland are still vital congregations in the Episcopal Church.  Emmanuel’s efforts did not stop at the official Parish borders either.  In Washington County, St. Thomas’ in Hancock and St. Andrew’s in Clear Spring were both started through Emmanuel’s ministry.  In West Virginia, there are “daughter” Emmanuel Churches in Keyser and Moorefield.

More locally, St. Phillip’s African American Chapel was built near the Mother Church in the era of segregation.  Beginning in the 1880’s a separate congregation was begun under the leadership of the same Samuel Denson who had been active in the Underground Railroad, meeting first in the Church’s old salve gallery, and then in the Sunday School building.  St. Phillip’s Chapel itself served for over 75 years as a center for African American spiritual and cultural life in the tri-state area before the Diocese of Maryland merged it into Holy Cross in the 1960’s.

The Church of the Holy Cross was founded as an industrial mission to serve the immigrant population of South Cumberland in the 1890’s.  By about 1910, it had formally separated from Emmanuel.