Celebrating 175

June 5: Ordination of Elizabeth Carl+ (1991)

On June 5, 1991, history was made at the Church of the Epiphany when the Rev. Elizabeth Carl, an avowed lesbian, was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop of Washington Ronald Haines. At the point in the ordination service where any impediments are asked for, only two objections were raised. Both dealt with the compatibility of a homosexual lifestyle with the priesthood. Bishop Haines, in response, voiced his respect for their position, but said that since they had not raised any points that had not already been prayerfully considered, the service would go on. There was a fervent response to the ordinand’s pledge to proclaim the gospel by word and deed and a prolonged applause when she was presented as a priest.

Elizabeth grew up as a Methodist in Houston, TX, before coming into the Episcopal Church as a college student. She holds degrees in comparative literature from Occidental College in Los Angeles and library science from the Catholic University of America and worked at the Library of Congress for 16 years before entering the ordination process. She received the M.Div. degree from Union Seminary in New York and was ordained a deacon at Washington Cathedral in June 1990. As of May 1991, she joined the staff on Epiphany as an assistant to rector Edgar Romig. Elizabeth remained on the staff until September 1994. Her sermons, her pastoral presence, her administrative skills, and her encouragement of the ministry of the laity were a few of the gifts she brought to the parish.

< Previous     Next >

June 4: Harris Charles Fahnestock (1914)

Jay Cooke & Company was a U.S. Bank that operated from 1861 to 1873. Headquartered in Philadelphia, with branches in New York City and Washington, DC, the bank helped underwrite the Union Civil War effort. Cooke was a devout Episcopalian and regularly gave ten percent of his income for religious and charitable purposes. Harris Charles Fahnestock was a bank teller in his native Harrisburg, PA until he was loaned to Cooke in 1861. Cooke soon made him the manager of the Washington office. On November 25, 1864, Fahnestock and his first two children were baptized at Epiphany. The very next day, Fahnestock and his wife were confirmed there. When Fahnestock’s third child was baptized at Epiphany, Jay Cooke was the sponsor.

In 1866, Fahnestock relocated to New York City as a member of Jay Cooke, McCulloch & Co., remaining with it until it suspended in 1873. During this time he was interested in the building of the Northern Pacific Railroad. When Jay Cooke, McCulloch & Co. disbanded, he made an arrangement with the president of First National Bank, by which he took charge of the bond department, with the agreement that in 1877 he was to become an officer of the bank and to obtain control of it. Although he never attended school after his sixteenth year, he made a close study of banking and was considered one of the foremost authorities on the subject in the United States. In 1907, he gave $50,000 for the building of the west arch, or “crossing” of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.

< Previous     Next >

June 3: Consecration of Epiphany Chapel, Camp Meade, MD (1918)

In June 1918, midway through America’s involvement in World War I, an Episcopal chapel was opened in Odenton, Maryland on the outskirts of the recently created Camp (now Fort) Meade and was given the name Epiphany. The name was a requirement of the donors, two generous, charitable women from Epiphany Church, Washington. Their gift of $11,000 was given anonymously, but the donors were quickly identified as Margaret Coleman Freeman Buckingham and Isabel Coleman Freeman. Today, Epiphany Episcopal Church is a parish in Diocese of Maryland. In 2018, they will celebrate their centennial with a pilgrimage to their mother church in Washington.

In the Autumn 1918 issue of Epiphany’s Parish Guide, the dedication of Epiphany Chapel is described. “On Monday, the 3rd of June, Epiphany Chapel, on the borders of Camp Meade, Maryland, which is the gift of two of our generous parishioners, was dedicated. It was a beautiful summer afternoon and a large company of people gathered for the occasion. After a beautiful, simple service, addresses were made by the Chairman of the Building Committee, Mr. George C. Thomas, by Dr. McKim [Epiphany’s rector], Bishop Murray [John Gardner Murray, bishop of Maryland; later became the first elected presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church] and Bishop Garland (Thomas J. Garland, bishop suffragan of Pennsylvania at the time; later bishop diocesan]. At night several soldiers were confirmed. The building contains not only the lovely Chapel, but also a large parlor or ‘lounge’ and rooms for several resident Chaplains.”

< Previous     Next >

June 2: Edith Kirkwood Ormsby Clark (1936)

There is no better example of Epiphany’s tentacles reaching far and wide than in the person of Edith K.O. Clark. Her father, George Washington Clark, was a Brevet Brigadier General in the Union Army during the Civil War. Following his military service, he settled in Washington, DC where he worked as a U.S. General Land Office examiner. In 1880, Clark married Sara Robinson at the Church of the Epiphany. The couple’s first two children, Edith and Clifford, were baptized at the church.

After the death of their parents, the Clark children went to live with their uncle in Iowa. Edith’s education was in several schools in Iowa. After summer courses at the Universities of Wisconsin and Wyoming, she took a teaching job in the rural town schools of Wyoming. She rose to the level of Superintendent of Public Schools in Jackson County and then in 1915 became Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of Wyoming. Women in leadership positions were not unusual in Wyoming, the first state to give women the right to vote. There was even talk in Wyoming of making Edith Clark a Republican candidate for president. In her early fifties, Edith Clark established a homestead on six hundred acres in the Big Horn Mountains In Wyoming. She felled trees, peeled the logs, raised the ridge pole, laid the floor, and ultimately moved into her cabin.

< Previous     Next >

June 1: Edward James Stellwagen (1932)

The marriage of Edward J. Stellwagen and Charlotte M. “Lottie” Fisher at Epiphany in September 1880 brought together two early families of the parish. The families are remembered today in the fabric of the church. The iron fence in the front of the building is a memorial to Edward’s sister, Annie. The Fisher Memorial Window on the west side of the nave is a memorial to Charlotte’s parents, Thomas and Charlotte Fisher. Edward and Charlotte’s parents were in the same confirmation class at Epiphany in 1858 and were all buried from the church upon their deaths. Several baptisms, marriages and burials of siblings from both sides are included the parish register.

Edward J. Stellwagen had practiced law in Washington, but joined his father-in-law’s real estate firm shortly after his marriage. When Chevy Chase was being developed, it was Stellwagen who suggested the name. In 1899, Stellwagen and his brother-in-law founded a bank, Union Trust, with the former being made president. The pair also went into the hotel business and leased the new Willard Hotel for twenty years. They acquired several other hotels and then established the Yale Laundry to service them. Stellwagen was a strong Republican supporter. He was made chairman of the 1909 inaugural committee of President-Elect William Howard Taft, with whom he is depicted in the accompanying photograph.

< Previous     Next >

May 31: James MacBride Sterrett+ (1923)

The Rev. Dr. J. MacBride Sterrett was the founder and first rector of All Souls Church in the Woodley Park section of Northwest Washington. Dr. Sterrett had a home in this neighborhood and desired to see a more extensive pastoral work done in the region. With the cooperation of the rector of St. Alban’s, of whose parish this area was a part, Dr. Sterrett began holding services in a private home in March 1911. After acquiring a plot of land for a new church and being granted parish status by the diocese, All Souls Memorial Episcopal Church was erected as a gift of Dr. Sterrett in memory of his eldest son. This original structure forms the core of today’s church building.

Dr. Sterrett was a Pennsylvania native and a graduate of Harvard and the Episcopal Divinity School at Cambridge, Massachusetts. After parish work in New York and Pennsylvania and a time as a seminary professor in Minnesota, Dr. Sterrett moved to Washington, DC in 1891 where he joined the faculty of George Washington University and also became assistant rector at the Church of the Epiphany. He would remain in these two roles pretty much until the time he founded All Souls. Epiphany’s parish register records the death of Dr. Sterrett’s son in 1894 and his mother in 1909. His son, James MacBride Sterrett, Jr., died of meningitis at age 17 and is the one for whom All Souls Church was a memorial.

< Previous     Next >

May 30: Election of +Jane Holmes Dixon (1992)

On May 30, 1992 at a special convention of the Diocese of Washington held at the Church of the Epiphany, Jane Holmes Dixon was elected suffragan bishop. Dixon became the second female bishop in the Episcopal Church and the third in the Anglican Communion (following Barbara Harris of Massachusetts in 1989 and Penelope Jamieson of New Zealand in 1990). The accompanying photograph shows Dixon and Bishop of Washington Ronald Haines in front of the rood screen at Epiphany. Bishop Haines had called for the election of a suffragan at a diocesan convention in January. At the time, Dixon was the rector of St. Philip’s in Laurel and president of the diocesan standing committee. Dixon was elected on the first ballot from a list of seven candidates, including three other women.

At the special convention, Dixon’s election was hailed by a five-minute standing ovation. Afterwards, Dixon stated, “For women, this election is much more than Jane Dixon. It is a confirmation that we are created in the image of God, male and female, and a major statement of a basic Christian principle to empower men and women.” Pamela Chinnis, Epiphany’s senior warden said, “As the first woman president of the House of Deputies, I welcome the addition of more women to the House of Bishops,” adding that the election was greatly enriched by the caliber of all the candidates. Bishops Harris, Jamieson, and Dixon each made visits to Epiphany during their active ministry.

< Previous     Next >

May 29: Parish Status for Epiphany (1844)

The Fifty-Sixth Annual Convention of the Diocese of Maryland met at St. Paul’s Church in Baltimore from May 29 to June 1, 1844. At the time, the diocese included the entire state of Maryland as well as the District of Columbia. The bishop was the Rt. Rev. William Rollinson Whittingham. In his address to the convention, Bishop Whittingham stated, “The new congregation of the Church of the Epiphany has been steadily increasing in numbers and strength, and has almost completed its church edifice – an exertion that few would have thought within the bounds of possibility when the undertaking was commenced.”

On the second day of the convention, the Committee on new Parishes and Churches recommended the adoption of An Act to erect a new parish in the city of Washington, D.C. out of parts of the two parishes of St. John’s and Trinity. The act was referred to the Rev. Mr. Hawley and the Rev. Mr. French [rectors of St. John’s and Epiphany, respectively], as a committee for the further and final adjustment of the metes and bounds. That afternoon, the committee made their report, which was accepted, and the act agreed upon by them adopted. “The parish so established shall be known as the ‘Epiphany Parish in the city of Washington,’ and shall be entitled to all the rights and privileges secured to separate parishes by the vestry law of the State of Maryland, and by the constitution and canons of the Protestant Episcopal Church in this diocese.

< Previous

May 28: William Beans Magruder (1869)

He was named for his uncle, Dr. William Beans, who as a political prisoner was detained aboard a British ship in Baltimore harbor during the War of 1812. Francis Scott Key was sent to obtain his release. Though born in Montgomery County, Maryland, William Beans Magruder moved with his family to Georgetown at an early age. Here he obtained a preliminary education, before he studied medicine with a local Georgetown physician. In 1831, Magruder graduated from the University of Maryland Medical School. Shortly after setting up his practice, a cholera epidemic broke out in Washington. Dr. Magruder’s heroic conduct during the panic made his reputation as an important physician in the city.

By 1835, Dr. Magruder’s standing in the community had risen to a level that he decided to enter public office. He was first a member of the Washington Board of Health, then elected to the city’s Common Council, and then to the Board of Alderman where he served for 13 years. In 1856, the city’s Democrats, Republicans, and Whigs banded together as the “Anti-Know-Nothing Party” and nominated Magruder for mayor. After a fierce campaign, Magruder won by 13 votes. His term was marked by improvements to the city’s infrastructure. The baptism, confirmation and burial of Magruder’s first wife, Elizabeth, took place at Epiphany. Dr. Magruder was confirmed and married his second wife, Sarah, at Epiphany in 1854. A memorial tribute after his death stated, “his life as a physician was one long act of service and devotion to Almighty God.”

< Previous     Next >

May 27: Diocese of Washington (1895)

The 112th Annual Convention of the Diocese of Maryland met at the Church of the Epiphany in Washington, DC from May 29 to May 30, 1895. At the time, the diocese included the state of Maryland other than the Eastern Shore as well as the District of Columbia. The bishop was the Rt. Rev. William Paret (former rector of Epiphany). The work of the two previous conventions had focused on a division of the diocese and the creation of the Diocese of Washington. Final approval depended on raising enough money to endow the new diocese. In his address to the convention, Bishop Paret stated, “What we all seek is the real strength and welfare of the Church, its greater power and effectiveness as Christ’s instrument and servant, in perpetuating and spreading His blessings for mankind.”

The people of Epiphany subscribed nearly one fourth of the amount pledged to support the new diocese. The approved bounds of the new organization were the District of Columbia and four Maryland counties of Montgomery, Prince Georges, Charles and St. Marys. The Diocese of Maryland transferred about 12,500 communicants, 49 parishes with 81 places of worship and 79 priests to the new institution. Epiphany Parish was by far the largest in the new diocese in terms of numbers. The General Convention of the Episcopal Church approved the creation of the new diocese in October 1895 and the primary convention of the new Diocese of Washington was held in early December.

< Previous