On the Sunday nearest St. James’s Day in 1963, St. James’ Episcopal mission held its first services at Green Acres School in the Lux Manor subdivision just off Old Georgetown Road. Some nine families were present and indicated their willingness to form and affiliate with the new mission.
The Diocese of Washington through St. John’s Norwood Parish in Bethesda were major sponsors in this endeavor to establish an Episcopal congregation in what was a rapidly growing area of Montgomery County. On March 26, 1964, The Rt. Rev. William F. Creighton appointed my father, The Rev. David C. Lord, as part-time vicar of the new mission. The mission grew, and funds were secured for a permanent building, for which ground was broken in October of 1966 (see photo above).
Fifty years later, St. James’ remains a vibrant community of faith, sharing the life of Christ and engaging the challenges of being the Church in a new missional era. The Rev. Cynthia O. Baskin, current Rector, is a talented and dedicated priest who continues to nourish and guide the parish in its excellent ministries of worship, learning, and service to the wider community. I was part of St. James’ during its earliest years and grew up in programs for youth and college students led by talented volunteers and lay leaders of the parish. My brother Rob and his wife Nancy were married there and it was to a new Coffee House ministry for young adults that I brought Debbie on our first date. All good!
St. James’ experienced a significant spiritual renewal in the mid-seventies as many congregations did at that time through a new openness to the gifts and reality of the Holy Spirit. This renewal certainly transformed many lives and released new confidence in the parish as well as a diversity of gifts and ministries that continue to mature and deepen to this day. It was in 1977 that the Vestry of St. James’ supported my growing sense of call to the ordained ministry and as a result, I entered Virginia Theological Seminary as a postulant in the Diocese of Washington in the fall of 1978.
So it will be quite a privilege to preach this Sunday for the 50th Anniversary of St. James’. The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, Bishop of Washington will be the celebrant and I look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new members of the congregation. I’ll hold my father with fond awareness in my heart as I stand in the pulpit, remembering his dedication and hard work in helping to establish St. James as the strong parish it is today (my mother Julie, and brother Rob in Winter Park, Florida are not able to attend, but they certainly share my anticipation).
Thank God for the gift of transforming communities like St. James’ Potomac and Holy Comforter, Vienna whose ministries have transformed lives in the past and now in the present, and surely in the lives of those who will inhabit the journey of faith in years to come.
Great is God’s faithfulness.