Our history tells us who we are, and shapes the way we live out our calling as Christ’s disciples. Every Sunday, we use the silver communion chalice that dates back to 1707; our baptismal bowl is the same one that we’ve used since the early 18th century. We have prayed in this place through revolution, war, and plague, and all of those prayers are present to us as we worship each week. We’ve also sought, in recent years, to wrestle with the difficult moments of our history: our complicity in slavery and segregation, foremost among them. Always, we try to see our history folded into God’s history of redemption centered on Christ, and calling us to true faith, true gratitude, true repentance, and a calling to undo the work of sin and pursue justice in our own day.

In 1692, St. James’ Parish, Old Herring Creeke, was officially established when the Maryland Assembly, acting on the orders of Sir Lionel Copely, Royal Governor of Maryland, enacted the Act of Establishment. That Act divided the Province of Maryland into 30 Anglican Parishes. There were, however, people worshipping in the area before that time. The exact location of that church is unknown. In 1695, the vestry ordered a church built on the present site.

The Rev. Henry Hall was called as the first rector, and remained at St. James’ until his death in 1722. When the old church became inadequate for the needs of the parish in 1763, the vestry ordered that a new church be built. It was completed in 1765, and continues to serve the congregation today.

St. James’ Parish opened the first parochial lending library of the American parishes of the Church of England in 1698. It was founded by the Rev. Dr. Thomas Bray, who donated 118 books for the library that year.

In 1792, the seventh rector of St. James’, the Rev. Dr. Thomas John Claggett, resigned to become the first bishop of Maryland. He was the first Episcopal bishop to be consecrated on American soil.

The parish founded several chapels: St. Mark’s Chapel at Friendship, consecrated in 1850 and sold in 1915; The Chapel of St. James the Less in Owensville in 1853 (now Christ Church, West River); St. James’ Chapel in Tracey’s Landing in 1876; and St. Mark’s Chapel built in 1924.

Learn more at our page on Wikipedia.


A Self-Guided Walking Tour of St. James’ Church

St. Mark’s Chapel – An Integral Part of St. James’ Parish