St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Ellicott City, Maryland is an historic parish that has continually reinvented itself over time. For more than 175 years, St. Peter’s has ministered to the people of Ellicott City and beyond, adhering to the values and beliefs of the Episcopal Church while responding to the needs of the people it served. While we cherish our history and care for our beautiful building and grounds, we focus on the future and strive to use our resources to live out God’s mission for us today.
Our parish began in 1842, when the Rev. Alfred Holmead was brought to Ellicott’s Mills (now Ellicott City) to serve as chaplain of Patapsco Female Institute and used the opportunity to begin a new Episcopal parish in the village. It was initially called “Grace Church,” but changed its name to St. Peter’s in 1848 to avoid confusion with the parish in Elk Ridge. By 1845 a church had been built on the bluff behind St. Paul’s Catholic Church, facing the river and the new railroad. The parish initially struggled, and parish clergy had to supplement their income by teaching or by serving as the institute chaplain (which they did off and on until 1872). By 1892, its 50th year, the parish had 100 communicants; it became the parish of village shopkeepers and merchants, mill foremen, and some professional folk.
By the 1860s St. Peter’s had begun to use more traditional liturgical styles, which in time came to be described as “Anglo-Catholic,” and those traditions continue in the parish. In 1927, Fr. Julius Velasco took charge of the parish, and remained as clergy in charge or as rector until 1945. As the twentieth century progressed, the coming of the automobile made the hillside next to St. Paul’s quite congested, and St. Peter’s parish began to look for a new location. On Saturday afternoon, October 14, 1939, the old church burned to the ground. The parish took the modest insurance proceeds and built a new church at the intersection of Rogers Avenue and Frederick Road, a “suburban” location halfway between the old site and St. John’s Church. The new church was placed in use in June 1940; the new structure included a small apartment for the residence of rector and his family. The new building reflected Fr. Velasco’s pronounced Anglo-Catholic bent, with a sanctuary lamp, tabernacle, stations of the cross, votive candles, and side altars.
After Fr. Velasco, St. Peter’s fell on hard times, and after 1948 was unable to support a clergyman; the parish was cared for until 1964 by members of the Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE, the Cowley Fathers) while they served as chaplain of All Saints Convent in Catonsville. Many in our community still recall with great affection Fr. Earle Maddux SSJE, who led St. Peter’s while serving as convent chaplain from 1951 until 1964. Under Fr. Maddux’s guidance, funds were raised to pay off parish indebtedness, and the new church was finally consecrated on May 26, 1956.
St. Peter’s called its first modern-era rector in 1964, Fr. Raymond Atlee, and entered into a period of sustained growth. In 1968 a new rectory was built, and in 1978 a parish hall and educational wing was added to the church. In 1980 the parish sponsored the founding of a parochial mission, St. Andrew’s in Glenwood.
St. Peter’s observed its 150th anniversary in 1992.
In 1994, Reverend Kirk A. Kubicek became the rector of St. Peter’s. The Rev. Doc. Mary-Marguerite Kohn joined him as co-rector in 2009. She and Kirk shared pastoral and liturgical duties. Mary-Marguerite was active in ministering to the community around St. Peter’s, working with the church’s food pantry and other outreach ministries.
May of 2012, St. Peter’s experienced a tragedy: Mary-Marguerite and church administrator Brenda Brewington were victims of gun violence while serving at the church. Read more about St. Peters’ response to this tragedy on our Becoming a Resurrection People page.
In July of 2012, St. Peter’s welcomed the Reverend H. Thomas Slawson to St. Peter’s as our vicar. In June 2015, he became our Rector, marking our exit from imperilment and heralding a bright future ahead. And it was so. But as we know, God’s plans are not ours to shape, and by the Spring of 2017, Fr. Tom’s gifts were needed elsewhere, across the water. So we bade a sad, but very fond farewell to the Slawsons in early July 2017, and began the process to find a new priest-in-charge for the next phase of our future.
Please join us — come with us, and be a part of that future!