• Beginning November 7, join us Sunday mornings at 10 am for Holy Eucharist, followed by Adult Education and Children’s Sunday School. Sundays at 5 pm we hold a contemplative Evening Prayer service, which is also live streamed on our Facebook page. On Thursdays at noon, join us for Healing Eucharist. Check out our Upcoming Events (see below) for lots of special happenings in November and December!

  • Watch our weekly videos of Sermons, Gospel Lessons, Comforting Words, and Music on our YouTube page.

    (Click on our YouTube page link below)

The Mother Church of Western Maryland

When Emmanuel Parish consisted of a handful of faithful congregants on the edge of white colonization, the congregation was supported by other parishes in Frederick, Maryland and later Romney, Virginia (now West Virginia). 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.

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

The first rector served smaller congregations at Flintstone, Oldtown, and Cresaptown. 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 Mount Savage, St. John’s in Frostburg, St. James’ in Westernport, and St. Matthew’s 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. Philip’s Church was built by and for the Black community in the era of segregation. Beginning in the 1880s, a separate congregation was begun under the leadership of Emmanuel’s sexton, Samuel Denson. Denson was born enslaved in Mississippi in 1840. According to newspaper reports and US military records, Denson was attached to a Confederate regiment as a cook, and joined the 45th US Colored Infantry after that regiment was defeated. After the war he moved to Cumberland. According to community oral history, Denson escaped from Mississippi and arrived in Cumberland before the Civil War where he rang the bell at Emmanuel as a signal to freedom seekers. By 1876 he was the leader of Sunday School for Black members of Emmanuel. Relegated to the balconies installed for enslaved people, he helped found a new congregation after the balconies were torn down in an 1890 renovation. The new congregation of St. Philip’s purchased a building in 1891 and the first service was held on November 29th of that year. Denson passed in 1928 at age 88, leaving St. Philip’s as a center for Black spiritual and cultural life in the tri-state area. St. Philip’s experienced some decline in membership due to integration, and the Diocese of Maryland certified it defunct in 1966 without full consultation of the congregation. Years later it was formally merged with the Church of the Holy Cross.

The Church of the Holy Cross was founded as an industrial mission to serve the immigrant population of South Cumberland in the 1890s. By about 1910, it had formally separated from Emmanuel. Holy Cross-St. Philip’s closed in 2014.

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