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St. Bartholomew at 200: ‘This little parish continues to thrive’ –

by Terri Hogan

Senior Staff Writer

It is a year of milestones for St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Laytonsville.

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the consecration of the original church building on Sundown Road, which is no longer standing, and Oct. 20 marked the 100th anniversary of the consecration of the current building.

The original building was torn down and materials from that church were used to build the current sanctuary at 21611 Laytonsville Road.

Bishop Chilton Knudsen attended the event, also dedicating additional memorials within the Memorial Garden that opened last year.

The garden and labyrinth construction was completed 100 years after the current church consecration, keeping the church’s tradition of growth and renewal ongoing.

Rev. Linda Calkins said the event was wonderful, except that it was raining.

When the labyrinth and garden were dedicated by a bishop last year, it was also raining.

“I’m so amazed to be part of this community that really treasures its existence and history,” Calkins said. “It continues to make history, moving us forward into the future.”

Junior Warden Janice Fitts also stressed the importance of that history.

“Bishop Knudsen did a wonderful job of remembering our heritage and our place in the community,” she said. “There was a lot of enthusiasm, even though it was raining.”

Fitts said events such as the dedication are important to keep the parish moving forward.

“We don’t want to be stuck in history, but feel a big responsibility to our rich heritage,” she said. “Our founding pioneers were hard working and very community-minded. You almost feel their presence and an obligation to keep the heritage going. There is a lot of pride, yet responsibility, to carry forward their good work — that is what we are trying to do.”

She said the following Sunday, at morning prayer service, the organist played “Baby Shark” in homage to the Washington Nationals.

“I thought, wow, we really are doing some different things,” Fitts said.


Looking back


According to parish history distributed at the 100th Consecration Remembrance on Oct. 30, 1918, the Rev. Franklin Johns Bohanan, rector of St. Bartholomew’s Parish, wrote a letter to then-Bishop Alfred Harding of Washington informing him of the status of the Episcopal Church in Laytonsville.

He wrote: “At the end of a year’s mark I am glad to be able to report to you that the money for the payment of the $2,200 debt on the church in Laytonsville has been pledged. It is our desire to have the church building consecrated on the one hundredth anniversary of the consecration of the old building, which will be the first Sunday in May next.”

In May 1812, a convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the State of Maryland authorized the formation of a new parish in Montgomery County that would become St. Bartholomew’s Parish.

The Hawlings River congregation officially became St. Bartholomew’s Parish in 1813, when it elected an eight-member vestry. The vestry authorized the original St. Bartholomew’s church to be built on a small hill two miles east of modern Laytonsville; it was completed in 1814 and consecrated in May 1819.

The 1814 St. Bartholomew’s church building would be taken down in 1909 and a new one established — using some of the old church building materials — at the present location in Laytonsville. The cornerstone for the new church was laid in 1909.

In his letter, the bishop also instructed that the vestry must prepare and sign an “Instrument of Donation Letter” that would be given to the bishop at the beginning of the consecration service. The document was prepared and signed on April 21, 1919, by Bohanan and the vestry.

The 1919 vestry could all trace their roots to the founding families of the parish.

The following is a brief listing of the “generous and faithful farmers,” some of whose descendants still attend services at St. Bartholomew’s today: the Rev. Franklin Johns Bohanan, senior warden Thomas Cramner Griffith, junior warden Alton C. Bell, William Mobley, Henry H. Griffith, Greenbery Gaither Griffith, Douglas Riggs, Robert H. Lansdale and R. P. Magruder.


Moving forward


Calkins likened the St. Bartholomew’s parish to the children’s story, “The Little Engine That Could.”

“I know that sounds cute and all, but this parish just doesn’t give up,” she said. “We will never be a big parish, but this parish can do anything it wants to do. Anyone who walks through these doors is welcome here. We have that spirit about us, and it’s the reason we have the labyrinth and memory garden. This little parish continues to thrive.”

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