Church plaque

The prayer wall at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Upper Marlboro is adorned with ribbons.

At the corner of Croom Road and St. Thomas Church Road in Upper Marlboro stands St. Thomas Episcopal Church. Built between 1742-1745 as Page’s Chapel, it was originally one of the Anglican parishes of the Province of Maryland.

The parish’s roots actually go back to 1676, when an Anglican church stood next to the Prince George’s County courthouse in the original county seat of Charlestown (now known as Mount Calvert), just north of Jug Bay on the Patuxent River.

As all Anglican parishes in the Maryland Colony, it was built and supported with taxes and gifts derived mostly from farms and plantations that produced tobacco, the major cash crop in Maryland well into the 19th century. But times change, and so do people.

Over the centuries, St. Thomas’ gave birth to no less than four different churches in the Upper Marlboro and Brandywine area of Prince George’s County. Many folks have worshipped and served the area through this parish, from tenant farmers, small family farmers, large plantation owners, enslaved and free people. Our parish helped found an African-American chapel and cemetery, St. Simon’s Mission, which merged with us in the 1960s.

Innovation in our ministry has been ongoing in each century, responding to the needs and concerns of people in good times and bad in our country: the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Civil War, and the Jim Crow and Civil Rights eras.

In the midst of today’s two scourges of COVID-19 and systemic racism and violence, we find ourselves unable to gather inside our small Georgian church. However, that does not mean we cannot gather at all. St. Thomas is offering our historic Victorian, wrought iron fence as a prayer wall.

Members, neighbors, and friends from throughout the area are invited to write a prayer on a ribbon and tie it on that fence. To keep everyone safe, please bring your own ribbon. Our campus is a beautiful, contemplative place, full of history no doubt. But it is still a vibrant community that is engaged with today’s needs, joys, and griefs.

We invite you to come and place a prayer here, for love, for loss or for justice.