All Saints' Church

The History of All Saints'

Founded in 1742, All Saints' is the oldest Episcopal parish in western Maryland. Parishioners of All Saints' have continually been the leaders in the community. Thomas Johnson, the first post-Colonial governor of Maryland, and Francis Scott Key, prominent attorney and author of the National Anthem, worshipped at All Saints'. In 1793, All Saints' was the site of the first confirmation of an American citizen, by Bishop Thomas John Claggett, the first Episcopal Bishop consecrated on American soil.

A few years after 1742, a small colonial building was constructed about four blocks from our present church, and served the parish for over sixty years. The replacement structure was built on Court Street in 1814, and is now used as parish hall and classrooms. In 1855, a handsome neo-gothic structure was designed by the noted 19th church architect Richard Upjohn. The steeple is one of the clusted spires of Frederick, cited in John Greenleaf Whittier's poem, Barbara Fritchie.

Less than a decade later, the Civil War broke out. For Fredericktonians, it was not only "the war between the states," but the "war within the state." The tension between the Northern rector and the Southerners in the congregation was characteristic of the division at the time. By December 1861, All Saints' had already buried 11 soliders. After the battle of Antietam in September 1862, the church was used as a field hospital, and many in the congregation volunteered their services to care for the wounded. The Rectory building at 108 W. Church Street was used as military headquarters during the early part of the war. After many occupations, the city of Frederick survived, and the wounds, both physical and emotional, began to heal.

The 20th century brought about a growth in membership and relative stability. In the years from 1866 to 2006, only seven rectors have served All Saints'. Some of these rectors introduced a number of liturgical practices such as Eucharistic vestments, a processional cross and sung services. Contemporary worship with guitars and choral music was instituted. Among the issues during this time was the ordination of women and their place in the local parish. In the mid-1980s we hired, as Director of Christian Education, a woman who was already ordained to the priesthood. In addition to her primary duties, she led the highly successful contemporary service that evolved into our current Great Hall service. Nevertheless, it was several years before she celebrated at the traditional services. There also has been some uneasiness about the consecration of an openly homosexual bishop. Through it all we remain firmly committed to the Episcopal Church.

It appears that those things which have defined us during our history have not been our differences of opinion on the latest issues. Instead, our ability to evolve enables us to continue serving God and God's people.