Celebrating 175

May 19: Annie Moore Clymer McKim (1928)

Annie McKim (full name: Sarah Anne Moore Clymer Brooke McKim) was the second wife of long-time Epiphany rector Randolph McKim. Annie’s father, Daniel Clymer, was a lawyer and mayor of Reading, PA. She was the only one of five children to live to adulthood. At age 20, she married Edward Brooke, a native of Birdsboro, PA, who became a successful businessman and community leader. He was in the iron business, developed a regional railroad, served as director of a local bank, and founded an Episcopal church. When Brooke died in 1878, Annie was left as a woman of considerable means.

Annie Brooke married widower Randolph McKim two years after his arrival at Epiphany. Following their wedding, the couple left on a European vacation. Such trips would be a recurring theme the rest of their married life. Annie became involved in the charitable works of the parish, including service on the Board of Lady Managers of the Epiphany Church Home. Frederick Brooke, Annie’s youngest son from her first marriage, was an architect. He was responsible for Epiphany’s parish house in 1910. He was also in charge of Epiphany’s new tower in 1922, built as a memorial to his stepfather, Randolph McKim. Annie gave the memorial bust of her husband for the new tower entrance. After Annie McKim’s death in 1928, her surviving sons and grandchildren memorialized her with the glass vestibule inside Epiphany’s G Street entrance.

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May 18: Street Church (2006)

In 2006, Epiphany rector Randolph Charles and Urban Missioner Anne-Marie Jeffery (shown here) began a new ministry for the homeless in downtown Washington. While churches had long provided meals, occasional shelter and indoor worship services for the homeless, a small but growing number of congregations began to recognize that many homeless people will not attend traditional services indoors. So these congregations now go outdoors to bring church to the homeless and anyone else who happens along. Street Church was inspired by the Ecclesia movement, founded by the Rev. Debbie Little Wyman in Boston Commons that takes the Gospel to people who might never venture into a church.

Every Tuesday, a group of volunteers gathers in Epiphany’s kitchen to make the lunches, which consist of two PB&J sandwiches, chips, fruit, and water. A small handmade sign hanging from a shopping cart announces Street Church to people at Franklin Square Park and volunteers hand out fliers. A 15-minute worship service for 20-30 people is followed by lunch and fellowship. In a 2007 New York Times article entitled “No Altar, No Pews, Not Even a Roof, but Very Much a Church,” journalist Neela Banerjee quoted a homeless man describing Epiphany’s Street Church – “This gives me strength to deal with things. I think God is with me. If it wasn’t for him, I don’t think I could survive all this.”

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May 17: Malcolm C. McCormack (2002)

Malcolm C. McCormack was the second executive director of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, heading the organization for 11 years, 1978-1989. The foundation was created by an Act of Congress in 1975 as a living memorial to the 33rd President of the United States. The act authorized the foundation to “award scholarships to persons who demonstrate outstanding potential for and who plan to pursue a career in public service” and to conduct nationwide competition to select Truman scholars. A $30,000 scholarship for graduate school education is awarded to 55-65 U.S. college juniors each year. Some noted recipients of the past include Janet Napolitano, Bill de Blasio, George Stephanopoulos, and Susan Rice.

McCormack was born in Memphis, Tennessee, but raised in the Washington area. He was a 1945 honors graduate of Western High School. He received a bachelor’s and master’s degree in foreign service from Georgetown University. He worked as an analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency and later in advertising for an insurance firm and the Washington Star newspaper. In 1967, he returned to his alma mater as executive vice president for university relations. As a fundraiser, he netted close to $100 million for the school. McCormack was a member of the University Club and the Church of the Epiphany. He served on the parish vestry as junior warden.

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May 16: John Jay Almy (1895)

A native of Newport, Rhode Island, John Jay Almy was named for John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the United States. Almy was the youngest child of his family. Both parents having died when he young, the Navy became his home. He was appointed midshipman at age 14. In the Mexican War, he took part in the capture of Vera Cruz and during the Civil War, he captured four blockade runners and destroyed four others. As a rear admiral, he was able to protect American and European property during a violent revolt in Panama. Upon his retirement, Admiral Almy had served twenty-seven years and ten months of duty at sea, the longest amount of any officer in the navy.

John Jay Almy and his first wife, Sarah Gardner, had five children. The youngest was baptized at Epiphany and the youngest two were confirmed there. After Almy’s wife died, he married her sister. Both wives were buried from Epiphany. Two days after his death on May 16, funeral rites for Rear Admiral Almy were performed at Epiphany by rector Randolph McKim. Pallbearers for the service included four Navy admirals and two Army generals. A detachment of sailors served as body bearers and a company of marines were at Congressional Cemetery to pay the last military tribute to the dead, by firing a volley over the grave and the sounding of “Taps” by a bugler.

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May 15: William Sharples Derrick (1852)

On May 17, 1852, The National Intelligencer reported the death of William S. Derrick, Chief Clerk in the Department of State. “Throughout the term of his service in the Department he strove to earn promotion, and obtained it, not by courting the acquaintance of those having or likely to have political importance, but by the conscientious and accurate discharge of the duties assigned to him, without any taint of personal servility to his superiors in office, and by employing his leisure in those pursuits which were adapted to inform, expand, and elevate his mind, and to improve his great natural capacity for business. By his death the public has lost a faithful and laborious servant, his immediate family an affectionate husband, father, and friend, his associates in the Department a valuable exemplar, and his friends one whose worth they will always hold in vivid remembrance.”

William Sharples Derrick was born in West Chester, PA. His father, Philip Derrick, was the first Burgess of West Chester. William was well acquainted with the French and Spanish languages and with English literature. He was employed by the State Department from 1827 until his death in 1852 and at “sundry times during that period he performed the duties of Acting Secretary of State an aggregate of 263 days by virtue of presidential appointments.” At the time of his death he was Chief Clerk. During his career William Sharples Derrick served under eight presidents. He was baptized at Epiphany on October 18, 1851 and then died of tuberculosis on May 15, 1852. After services conducted by the Reverend Mr. French at the Church of the Epiphany, he was buried in Congressional Cemetery.

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May 14: Opening of Church Doors During Week (1877)

When William Paret became Epiphany’s fifth rector in the fall of 1876, he quickly began to live up to his promise of shaking things up. It will be recalled that when Paret was interviewing with the vestry for the job and was told the parish had no poor, his response was “a church without any poor was too spiritually poor to be useful.” Later, Paret would write that he came to Epiphany with the avowed purpose “to break loose from the old traditions and customs which had made so many of our parish churches only places for Sunday preaching and occasional administration of sacraments, which practically shut out of them all but those who were able to rent pews, and offered no real opportunity to the poor and uninstructed who most needed their blessings.”

In addition to creating a chapel in SW Washington for the poor of the parish, Paret wanted to use the main church on G Street to its maximum, by increasing the number of services and making more of them free to everyone. Epiphany would be an open church, not just on Sundays, but always. Beginning on this day, May 14, in 1877, Paret announced the doors of the church “would stand open every day from 8:00am to 6:00pm so that any that desired might freely enter to find retirement, quiet, and a holy place for prayer and meditation.” And so it has been for the past 140 years.

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May 13: William Burnham Woods (1887)

William Burnham Woods was the 45th justice of the United States Supreme Court. He was the first Southerner to join the court after the Civil War. Woods was originally from Ohio. He started his education at Western Reserve College (now Case Western Reserve University), but later moved on to Yale, where he took his degree with honors. After learning law by clerking, he entered politics and was elected a mayor and then a member of the state legislature. Woods volunteered for military service during the Civil War and saw combat around the Gulf Coast. He was promoted to colonel and served with such distinction that General U.S. Grant and others recommended him for promotion to brigadier general. In 1869, President Grant appointed Woods to the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. It was from this post that President Hayes nominated Woods to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Woods wrote 218 opinions during his brief six years on the bench. Many of them dealt with patent and equity cases that revealed his ability to analyze intricate records. Morrison Waite was the chief justice the entire time Woods was on the court. Woods and Waite were fellow Epiphany parishioners. The funeral service of William Burnham Woods took place at Epiphany on May 16, 1887. Less than a year later the funeral of Chief Justice Waite took place at Epiphany as well. Chief Justice Waite described Woods as “an upright man and a just judge.”

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May 12: George Truesdell (1921)

A large plaque commemorating Colonel George Truesdell is one of only two such memorials in the nave of Epiphany Church. Colonel Truesdell served on Epiphany’s vestry for 28 years, concluding with six years as senior warden before his death in 1921.  In a tribute to their colleague, the vestry remembered Truesdell with the following, “That in the departure of our beloved brother and coworker, this Vestry and Parish have suffered a serious loss, beyond the power of words to adequately express. His service has been marked by eminent ability and efficiency, and the gift of his best in efforts for, and devotion to, the highest interest of the Parish. He was a wise counselor, a faithful guide, and a true friend.”

Born in Epiphany’s founding year (1842), George Truesdell was a native of Central New York. He served in the Union Army during the Civil War, advancing from Private to Lt. Colonel. He later received his engineering degree from the University of Michigan and practiced civil engineering in New Jersey until his relocation to Washington. In 1887, Truesdell purchased an 87-acre estate on the east side of N. Capitol Street named Eckington which he developed into lots. Truesdell served as a member of the D.C. Board of Commissioners. An elementary school in the city bears his name. In addition to his service on the vestry, George Truesdell was baptized, confirmed and finally buried from Epiphany before his interment at Arlington National Cemetery.

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May 11: Maria Williams Sheerin Minor (1983)

Maria Sheerin moved to Washington in 1942 when her husband, the Rev. Charles W. Sheerin, became Epiphany’s tenth rector. It would be the fifth home of their 17-year marriage. Maria was born in Richmond, VA . Her schooling began at a small private school “with a strong Confederate slant” and then finished at the National Cathedral School for Girls in Washington. After her coming out in Richmond, Maria married a brilliant, young Episcopal priest, Charles Sheerin. Some of Maria’s relatives took a dim view of her marriage to a Yankee, but Charles took it all in stride. Maria followed her husband to his diverse assignments, ranging from Waco, TX to New York City. Wherever they went, she witnessed the important work her husband did to better social conditions and make people’s lives better.

While the couple was at Epiphany, Maria began to collect the notes she had written about her adventures and began work on an autobiography, The Parson Takes a Wife, which was published by Macmillan in 1948. Shortly before the book appeared, Charles Sheerin died suddenly at age 50. Maria’s book breaks off abruptly with this final epilogue: “Do not look for the Parson in his pulpit. He has now gone gloriously ahead into eternal life, and Heaven seems a fairer place than Earth.” Four years later, Maria married Dr. John Minor, Epiphany’s senior warden. Maria Minor’s appointment as an alternate delegate to a special diocesan convention was the first time a woman held an official position at Epiphany.

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May 10: ZeBarney Thorne Phillips+ (1942)

Following his death on May 10, 1942, the funeral of the Very Rev. Dr. ZeBarney Phillips was conducted by the bishop of Washington at Washington Cathedral. During his 18 years in Washington, Dr. Phillips had served as rector of Epiphany Church, chaplain of the U.S. Senate, President of the House of Deputies and Dean of Washington Cathedral. It was in the latter role that he died. The Cathedral Choral Society, which he had helped to found, had been rehearsing for their inaugural performance. Their presentation of Verdi’s Requiem on the day of Dr. Phillip’s funeral was dedicated to him.

Dr. Phillips was a native of Ohio. He was educated at Wittenberg College and the General Theological Seminary. He also studied for two years at Oxford. Phillips was called as Epiphany’s ninth rector after serving parishes in Cincinnati, Chicago, and Philadelphia. His predecessor at Epiphany had been elected bishop of Washington. Phillips served as rector for 17 years. He was known as a compelling preacher, but also a loving friend and a wise and sympathetic counselor. A chapel in Epiphany’s west transept was created as a memorial. The only remnants of the chapel today are a wall plaque and the stained glass windows in that area. ZeBarney Phillips is buried in the crypt of Washington Cathedral. A memorial plaque in the adjoining  hallway concludes with the words, “An Inspired Voice in the Church of God, and a Leader in the Walks of Men.”

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