7 Year Tea Party Winners: Susan Craft's winner of her trilogy novels - The Chamomile, Laurel, and Cassia is: Lucy Reynolds, The winner of a copy of The Backcountry Brides is: Tammy Cordery, the winner of a silver quill charm is: Kathy Maher, Choice of one of three books by Carrie Fancett Pagels in paperback: Joy Ellis, A Bouquet of Brides Collection by Pegg Thomas winner is: Becky Smith, Janet Grunst's Selah-Award winning novel, A Heart Set Free, is: Sherry Moe.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

When the One Church Must Travel

For much of the history of Annapolis, Maryland, it had but one church--St. Anne's Episcopal. The first St. Anne's was built along with the State House and King Williams School in Maryland's capital in 1696. It was the church of Church Circle, one of the two centers of Annapolis life. All Annapolis streets lead from the spokes of a wheel from State Circle or Church Circle (build deliberately to showcase the separation of church and state).

The parish grew along with the city, and the original church was added to, amended, expanded, and . . . thought rather ugly. Writers of the time likened the building to a barn, rather than a church. So in 1775, plans for a new, impressive church were laid out, the old building was razed, building materials were brought in for the second St. Anne's.

And war broke out. Collective sigh from all the Annapolitans. Rather than erecting a new church, all those building supplies were given to the war effort and a fort. Church Circle sat empty. Forsaken. Forlorn.

And worship? Where did that take place?
Well, for a while services were held at King William's School, directly across the street from the State House, but quarters were rather cramped. So the church moved to the old theater on West Street (theater having been outlawed a few years prior), where it met until St. Anne's was finally rebuilt in 1793, after 18 years.

I had the pleasure of visiting the new St. Anne's (dating from 1858) when I went to Annapolis to research Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland. Having no clue how old the current building was, my friend and I gazed with awe at the gorgeous stained glass windows (two of which are Tiffany) and the impressive cathedral style. On my way out I grabbed up the brochures they had in the vestibule, and I read them when I got home. You can imagine my surprise when I discovered that my characters in 1783 would have been going to the theater for worship, rather than a church, and that Annapolis in fact had no church at the time!

But as I wove this fun fact into story, I realized that it is fact a wonderful example of the Lord's hand. Sometimes man's best intentions go awry. Sometimes even sound plans that we intend for His glory get sidetracked. Sometimes when we look at the place our dreams should be, we see only emptiness and piles of rubble.

But He always prevails. The faithful will always find a way to worship Him. And though our vision may remain dormant for a time (imagine their feelings after 18 years of transition!), His perfect plan will come to fruition in His perfect time.

Today, St. Anne's is still one of the pillars of Annapolis, and its inspiring history still stands proudly alongside the tales of our founding fathers. And personally, I love imagining the spirit of those good Marylanders who weren't to be deterred by a little thing like no church to meet in. Who surely understood as they fought for our liberty that it was the people who really make a church . . . and a nation.


  1. Thanks for sharing this interesting part of Colonial Maryland history, Roseanna. The more and more I write historicals, and read them, the more it seems every nook and cranny of the original thirteen is filled with stories from the past.

  2. Great post and photo, Roseanna. God really does make a way, like you said. I'm so thankful His hand is evident in our nation's history. Would love to visit that theater and church:)

  3. I'm not sure what's standing now where the theater used to be, but the third St. Anne's is BREATHTAKING!

  4. Thanks for this great post, Roseanna! Love the pics and the cool info about the church.

  5. Roseanna! What an interesting post. I love old churches and meeting houses. Today worshippers seem to get so bent out of shape over there buildings - we could take a lesson from these folks in our past who were more patient and steadfast. And I just love finding interesting tidbits like you found to weave into your story. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

  6. Oh, this post is so right up my alley! How interesting to think of everyone having to go to the theater to worship, how scandalized some must have been!
    I am a freshly confirmed Episcopalian, so this is especially interesting to me. I think the drama of the Episcopal church coming to be out of the revolution would be great fodder for a novel :) just some of my random knowledge:

    The Episcopal Church, essentially, is what happened to Church of England in America after the American Revolution. As you can imagine, it caused a bit of trouble for people's church to be tied to a King they were now fighting. Back then, as well, Priests were required to swear allegiance to the King of England, so when war broke out, priests either lost their church and funding or fled to Canada.
    A big problem too was that in order to make a someone a priest, you had to have several bishops on hand for the ceremony but of course, now there were no bishops.
    What eventually ended up happening is that an American priest went around England to Scotland and was confirmed a bishop there and that's how America got its church while still keeping its traditions from England. But we had to promise we'd use the Scottish Book of Common Prayer and not the English one ;) that's why whenever you see the Episcopal emblem, its a sheild with a cross and the scottish flag in the left top corner.
    Lol, in any other circle, this might be TMI, but I know fellow history lover love this sort of random info :)

  7. Awesome information, Heather!! Thanks for sharing. I'd never really stopped to wonder (or had to research) that leap from Church of England to Episcopal. Love it!

  8. Fascinating information, Roseanna, and Heather! It just goes to show how important research is to our projects so we don't get details like this totally wrong!

  9. I appreciate knowing more about that transition during and after the war, and Roseanna's post is intriguing. Many churches meet in theaters now, that can't afford a building. I guess Annapolis was the first time this happened?

  10. Great information, Roseanna...Loved hearing about the history of this church, and its growth coinciding with the development of this country-- including its spiritual foundation. Thank you!


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