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Holy Cross-St. Philip’s Episcopal Church Closing, 2014

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Holy Cross-St. Philip’s Episcopal Church Closing

The following article is from the May 27, 2014 edition of the Cumberland Times-News. It pertains to the closing of the St. Philip's Episcopal Church which is discussed elsewhere on this website:

Holy Cross - St. Philip’s Episcopal Church Closing
Congregation will hold last service June 15

CUMBERLAND — An Episcopal church with important historical roots in the community will be closing its doors next month.

Holy Cross-St. Philip’s Episcopal Church was a merger of two mission congregations — Holy Cross, a mission church for immigrants, and St. Philip’s Chapel, a congregation for freed blacks after the Civil War. Those two congregations merged in 1966, creating a diverse congregation of people of many ethnic backgrounds.
“We see it as a resurrection of sorts ... taking on new life in a different form,” said the Rev. Theresa M. Brion, the vicar of the church. Brion said the history of the church reflects such transformations. “There’s a cycle of life,” Brion said.
The congregation will hold its last service June 15 at the church on the corner of Brookfield and Greenway avenues. “We see it as a service of celebration,” said Brion. The 9:30 a.m. service will be followed by a potluck meal. The current church was consecrated in 1961.

The decision to close the church was not sudden, but developed over time with several options considered, Brion said. The process evolved as time went on, Brion said. Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton met with congregation members to discuss the congregation’s options beginning in?January. At an April 26 meeting, a decision was made to disband the location and end services at the church, Brion said. Brion has led the congregation since Jan. 1, 2012.

Members are free to join any other church and some may choose to join Emmanuel Parish, which in some ways is the mother church of Holy Cross-St. Philip’s.
The church has faced declining membership. A report from the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland shows membership numbers for 2013 of 71 active members and 40 adult communicants, with an average Sunday attendance of 18 people. Holidays bring in both inactive members and visiting family members, Brion said. Small churches usually have very devoted membership, Brion said. That compares to Emmanuel’s 644 members and 460 adult communicants, with an average Sunday attendance of 148. Despite the numbers, the congregation is something special.

“I see it as a very loving, caring group of people,” Brion said of the congregation.

Many of the congregants of both original churches, along with the merged congregations, have been community leaders,?Brion said. Holy Cross had its last separate service on All Saint’s Day, 1966, Brion said.
The history of the church reflects Cumberland’s history, especially the history of the black community and the immigrant community.

“Holy Cross-St. Philip’s began its life in the 1860s. The church is a blending of two mission congregations: the Holy Cross Mission, which began as an outreach by the women of Emmanuel Parish in 1860, and the St. Philip’s Mission,” according to information from the church’s website.

Additional information about the parish can be found on Emmanuel’s website. “St. Philip’s African American Chapel was built near the Mother Church in the era of segregation. Beginning in the 1880s 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 slave gallery, and then in the Sunday School building. ...
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,” according to the website.

Brion said the official founding date of St. Philip’s was 1891.

Source: Cumberland Times-News, May 28, 2014 ” by Matthew Bieniek - < href=
"http://www.times-news.com/local/x611385685/Holy-Cross-St-Philip-s-Episcopal-Church-closing">“Holy Cross - St. Philip’s Episcopal Church Closing


Matthew Bieniek, Cumberland Times-News

Photograph: Albert L. Feldstein


Collection Location:
Allegany County, Maryland

African Americans, History; Allegany County (Md.), History.

Allegany County (Md.), 1890-2008

Western Maryland Regional Library
100 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

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