On August 21, 1837 the Vestry of Saint Mark’s Parish of Frederick and Washington Counties approved the erection of a new church building in Brownsville located in Pleasant Valley and directed Hezekiah Boteler, Emory Edwards and Joshua Harling to receive contributions for the construction. The new congregation worshiped in a school building until the new church was built in 1839, on a lot purchased from Alexander Grim. The building was constructed with the help of many gifts among which was $500 from Mrs. James L. Hawkins of Montgomery County, Maryland. At that time the membership of the congregation had grown to include the following: Casper Weaver, Dr. Horatio Claggett and his wife, Mrs. Samuel Claggett, Mrs. M.M. Claggett, John F. Gray, Mrs. Elizabeth Grim, Mrs. Mary Grim, Mrs. Mary Miller, Mrs. H.P.B. Edwards, and Samuel L. Yourtee.

The Civil War and Reconstruction Periods

During the invasion of the United States of America in the Civil War, Saint Luke’s Church served as headquarters for General Lafayette McLaws while his troops from the Army of Virginia, Confederate States of America, were bivouacked around Brownsville in September 1862. The church was a hospital for his wounded following the Battle of Antietam. http://www.sha.state.md.us/exploremd/oed/scenicByways/CivilWar.pdf

1862beam A singed beam
from September
1862 Civil War burning.

Federal forces burned the building in order to prevent its use again in any other invasion. It stood for nine years as a shell without pews, furnishings, roof or flooring. In 1869, the church building was restored through the efforts of Mrs. Charlotte O. Bean, a Sunday School teacher, who inspired and rallied the congregation to rebuild.The chancel and vestry-room were added during the restoration.

OldchurchThe Saint Luke’s Chapel Guild was organized May 23, 1894 by
Mr. William Diggs Landstreet, licensed lay reader for the parish, his wife Helen R. Landstreet and Mrs. Walter Brown along with thirty members. Through the efforts of the Guild, a belfry was built and a bell purchased from the McShane Bell Foundry in Baltimore for $127.99. Other major improvements included new chancel windows, re-plastered walls, stained 1894Churchoak pews, carpet for the center isle, new lamps both inside and outside and a new Estey reed organ manufactured in Brattleboro,Vermont. The original consecration of the church by The Rt. Rev. William R. Whittingham, Fourth Bishop of Maryland, scheduled for 1845 was canceled because of “party strife” in the parish. The church was finally consecrated by The Rt. Rev. William Paret, Sixth Bishop of Maryland, on October 18, 1894. The Rev. Henry E. Cotton, Rector of Saint John’s Episcopal Church in Hagerstown delivered the sermon at that occasion. Mr. Edward Gittings presented the instrument of donation of the building to the Bishop.

A Twentieth Century Church

A Rood Screen was given in memory of the Oscar Jennings’ family by Mr. and Mrs. Leroy Jennings on June 21, 1945. In attendance at that service were the Worshipful Master, Wardens and Brethren of Antietam Lodge #197 Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Keedysville, Maryland. Freemasons continue to attend Saint Luke’s Church every June for the Feast of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist. A front porch, with pillars was added to the church and the wooden belfry was replaced with the brick belfry in the early twentieth century.

BURGESSThe Good Shepherd window in the chancel manufactured by Keck Stained Glass of Syracuse, NY was given in 1940 in memory the Rev. Edward E. Burgess, Rector from 1914 to 1933. Burgess Memorial Parish Hall, built in 1957 also was dedicated to the memory of the Rev. Edward E. Burgess. Renovated in 1988, the parish hall is used for Sunday School classes, parish meetings, social activities, and Girl Scout meetings.

HELFIn 1985 the Helfenstein Room was added to the church building under the direction of Mr. Robert Hammond and the help of members of the congregation. Dedicated to the memory of The Rev. Edward T. Helfenstein, Rector from 1890 to1900, the room serves as the Vicar’s office, meeting room, and the sacristy for the Altar Guild.

As part of the Washington County Mission Project, Saint Luke’s Church celebrated the Ordination of The Rev. John E. Grim and The Rev. Charles R. Holder along with the installation of lay ministers for the parish on July 5, 1978 by the Rt. Rev. William J. Cox, Suffragan Bishop of Maryland. White Chapel Handbells were donated and dedicated on Christmas Eve 1976 in memory of Gerald D. Morgan. The handbells have been played by the congregation at numerous services and events.

A More Recent Past

Church_present_dayIn 1998 the church interior walls were re-plastered and painted. The oak flooring was refinished, and new solid red oak pews manufactured by the Virginia Church Furniture Co. were installed. A Wicks Organ with two ranks was installed replacing the old reed organ. A free standing altar was dedicated in 2002 by The Rev John L. Rabb, Suffragan Bishop of Maryland in memory of Gerald L. Jennings, Senior Warden. An original quilted banner was designed and created by P. Dianne Schafer of Middletown, Maryland entitled Saint Luke’s Winged Ox. It was blessed on October 18, 2006 by The Rt. Rev. John L. Rabb. On October 14, 2007 the congregation celebrated the 170th anniversary of the parish with The Rev. Peter C. Fulghum as guest preacher and The Rev. Charles R. Holder, Vicar as celebrant. Following a luncheon, a program tracing the history of the parish and citations from the Senate of the State of Maryland by Senator Donald Munson and United States Senate from Senator Barbara Mikulski, a memorial Kwanzan Cherry tree was planted. The day ended with a concert by the Rohrersville Band which was also established in 1837.

A Great Friend to Saint Luke's Episcopal








The Reverend John Ephraim Grim
February 27, 1915 – February 26, 2003

GRIMBornThe Reverend John Ephraim Grim played a major influence in keeping Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church as part of the Brownsville community.  Born on February 27 in 1915 to Samuel and Constance Jennings Grim, he was baptized four month later at Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church beginning his life long relationship with the parish.  He made his confirmation in 1928.  In the 1940’s he became a licensed Lay Reader serving both his home parish and Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church in Petersville, as well as, Grace Episcopal Church in Brunswick.   During World War II when the number of ministers was scarce he served churches from Frederick to Oakland, Maryland.

 John served as caretaker in his youth, assisting his father with the mowing of the Church Yard and digging graves. He often prepared meals for various events at the church.  In his ministry for the parish he served as Sunday School Superintendent and teacher where he  worked extensively with the youth of the Parish.  John served as Senior Warden of the Advisory Board and as President of the Guild.  His many labors for the Parish included assisting with the structural changes to the interior of the church that refurbished the ceiling and beams.  He also helped with other the additions to the Church structure. 

As part of the Washington County Mission Project, John studied in a four year program called Theology Education by Extension from The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. He was ordained as deacon by The Rt. Rev. William J. Cox, Suffragan Bishop of Maryland  on July 7,1978 in a lovely evening ceremony in his home parish.  The following year, at Saint James School Chapel, John was Ordained to the Priesthood by The Rt. Rev. David K. Leighton, Bishop of Maryland on May 6,1979.  He  faithfully served his church as Priest-in Charge until his retirement in 1986.  Following his retirement he supported other Maryland parishes and extensively in The Nelson Cluster of the Episcopal Churches in West Virginia.  

John was the fifth generation farmer on his family farm in Brownsville.  He was an avid member of the Mason Dixon Auto Club.  He work in the community was instrumental in coordinating the ceremony in the 350th Maryland Anniversary at Washington Monument State Park on July 4,1984. He presented a Wye Oak to Pleasant Valley School where he often demonstrated spinning on his hand made spinning wheel.

John was married to Mary Elizabeth Mades Grim and enjoyed traveling with her to many places and especially to visit his step-daughter Sally and her family in Florida.
John died at his family home in Brownsville on February 26, 2003. 

170th Anniversary, August 2007

The celebration of the 170th Anniversary of Saint Luke’s Church was a year long journey from the past to the present.  The Anniversary Committee did an excellent job in planning the events, which included: The annual Parish Picnic at the home of the Drakes Way Off Broadway Dinner Theater to see Nunsense II Keys Baseball game with a picnic and our new T-shirts Display of memorabilia including copies of The Church Times from the 1890s and pictures of Church activities through the 20th century. During the year we journeyed back to celebrate the Holy Eucharist as it would have been according to the Book of Common Prayer in 1837, 1892, and 1928.  The emphasis of the joyous celebration in October was to honor the work of laity both past and present.  Outstanding for their efforts in the past were: William D. Landstreet and Charlotte O. Bean who were instrumental in reviving the Parish and rebuilding it both physically and spiritually at the end of the 19th century following the devastation left by the Civil War. 

During the day long celebration held in October for the Feast of Saint Luke we welcomed back The Rev. Peter C. Fulghum, collected food memorials for the South Washington County Food Bank, planted a memorial cherry tree to mark the occasion, and following our wonderful luncheon we adjourned to hear a concert by the Rohrersville Band. Go to the Photo Gallery page to see photos of some of our 170th Anniversary events.