From the time of William Penn up until the first World War, Anne Arundel County has used its religious background to promote tolerance and freedom of religion. In honoring these historic buildings, many that have been restored, designated historical markers, and have a sitting congregation to this day. Here are a few historic churches in Anne Arundel County.
All Hallows’ Church
Down Solomons Island Road, just past Edgewater, you’ll see a small brick building situated behind an iron gate, and surrounded by centuries of weather-worn gravestones. This historic church, All Hallows’ Church, has records dating back to 1682, including documents attesting to the first church being built on this site in 1690. After the demolition of the first structure, a second was built in 1710. The exterior of the original church still stands as it looked over 300 years ago! However, the interior has gone through quite a few renovations and “updates” since then, and I truly mean quite a few - 1727, 1825, 1885, and a c.1710 restoration in 1940.
Saint James’ Church - Old Herring Creek Parish
Also down Solomons Island Road is the historic Saint James’ Church and Old Herring Creek Parish.
The current church was constructed in 1763 and sits on the site of at least two previous structures (built in 1689 and pre-1692). The building is still in use by the church as the sanctuary, since other buildings have been built to accommodate the necessary offices and classrooms.
Notice the cemetery surrounding the church? It has gravestones dating back to the seventeenth century, including Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Birckhead - dating back to 1665 and is “the oldest known in Maryland!”
Although nothing remains of Marley Chapel, it was one of the first Episcopal churches erected in Anne Arundel County. The historical marker is located at the intersection of Baltimore Annapolis Blvd and McGivney Way in Glen Burnie.
During the process of dismantling of Marley Chapel and the construction of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church only one and a half miles to the West, the old cornerstone of Marley Chapel was taken and re-engraved, and built into St. Alban’s. Later, a memorial stone marker was placed on the new church’s grounds noting the site of Old Marley Chapel with an arrow facing East.
According to a commemorative plaque near the church, the original land tract was purchased for five shillings from Revolutionary War Captain Francis Cromwell with the intent that a church was built. The original structure was a log church that sat where the cemetery now sits, across the street from the current church. As tradition holds, Rev. Dorsey Jacobs, a lay preacher here more many years, rests beneath the ground where the original pulpit stood.
Magothy Methodist Church dates back to before the Revolutionary War, and has seen some pretty important faces. Most notably that of Rev. Francis Asbury, the “Father of Methodism in the United States.” He preached here on several occasions in the fall of 1777. The church is still in use today and is located along MD-177 in Pasadena.