In the late 1800s, Episcopalian families in the Mount Airy area traveled either to St. Paul’s in Poplar Springs or Grace Church in New Market to join in their worship services. When it became apparent that Mount Airy was growing, the Reverend Dr. James Stephenson, Rector of Grace Church, began the effort to construct a new church building. Through the combined support of Episcopalian families desiring a local church and the citizenry of Mount Airy, plans were formulated in 1887 for the construction of the building. Situated on North Main Street on land purchased from a Mr. Sank, the cornerstone of the new building was laid in 1888 and construction was completed in 1890. The brick chapel—with windows of Gothic design, a green roof, and a belfry of clapboard covered with wood shingles—was constructed by masons from neighboring Libertytown, Maryland. The basement had a dirt floor with a pipeless furnace in the center of the structure; the basement floor was later cemented and covered with squares of linoleum and, in 1959, front steps were added to the building. In the vestibule of the church building is a marble tablet commemorating Dr. Stephenson; it is an exact replica of the grave marker located at Dr. Stephenson’s burial site on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. In October 1890, Bishop Paret consecrated the chapel as a memorial to Bishop Pinkney. Honoring the request of Bishop Paret, the parishioners named the chapel St. James’ instead of Pinkney Memorial Chapel as originally planned. Some time after completion of the building, Dr. Stephenson legally incorporated the three parishes of St. Paul’s, St. James’, and Grace, as the “Linganore Parish”. In early 1890s, a private school was housed in the building as well as a lending library operated by a member of the parish. In addition to being a house of worship, the church building became a center for various services to the Mount Airy community.
The Rectors who followed the Reverend Dr. James Stephenson are as follows:
- The Rev. David May, 1892–1906
- The Rev. Eugene Pierce, 1907–1909
- The Rev. H. R. Saunders, 1910–1912
- The Rev. P. M. Boyden, 1913–1925
- The Rev. Wilbur Wheeler, 1925–1926
- The Rev. W. E. Glaxville, 1927–1932
- The Rev. Leon P. F. Vautheir, 1933–1956
- The Rev. Victor Ross, 1956–1958
- The Rev. Herman diBrandi, 1959–1961
- The Rev. Robert Pegram, 1961–1970
- The Rev. Wm. Workman, 1970–1973
- The Rev. John Sivley, 1973–1981
- The Rev. Charles Beamer, 1982–1988
- The Rev. Robert Herzog, 1989–1999
- The Rev. Portia Hirschman, 2002–2014
- The Rev. Kristin N. Krantz, 2015–
Reverend Ross served as deacon in 1953, Priest Associate in 1954, and as Rector in 1956 with the Reverend Vautheir as Rector Emeritus. During the ministry of The Reverend Leon P. F. Vautheir in 1945, the Church (Sunday) School program began at St. James’. Shortly after, cabinets were installed in the undercroft and water was brought to the church building. In 1953, the Reverend Victor Ross was called as Assistant Rector to Reverend Vautheir who was then serving five congregations. Since Reverend Vautheir occupied the Rectory in New Market, a house was rented for the Ross family until a permanent residence was purchased on North Main Street in Mount Airy. After the arrival of Father Ross, regular Sunday services were held at St. James’. In 1956 and again in 1958, parcels of land were given to the parish to establish and expand the parking lot. Both of these parcels were gifts from members of the Mount Airy community who were not associated with St. James’. St. James’ remained a mission until 1960 when, under the ministry of the Reverend Herman diBrandi, the Vestry of St. Paul’s Poplar Springs and the Vestry of St. James’ decided to yoke since Reverend diBrandi served both parishes. They incorporated under the name of “Parish of the Holy Apostles” and one Vestry of eight laymen was chosen. It was at this time that the “Linganore Parish” was dissolved. During the ministry of the Reverend Robert Pegram, the Rectory was sold, as he owned his own home in Mount Airy, and the money from the sale was invested until a new Rectory was needed. In the late 1960s, the Ladies of St. James’ started the St. James’ Thrift Shop. Located at first on Ridgeville Boulevard and then on Main Street, the shop allowed the parish to provide greater outreach services to the community and brought needed income to the church. Upon the arrival of the Reverend John H. Sivley in 1973, St. James’ assumed mission status again when the Maryland Diocese provided funds to purchase a new Rectory for the Sivley family. The building across the parking lot was also purchased during this time for use as a parish house. It was Father Sivley’s vision to begin a pre-school for 3- and 4-year-olds and, in 1974, St. James’ Nursery School began. The parish grew and prospered and, in 1981, the Vestry voted to separate the Parish of the Holy Apostles into two independent churches. Not long before the September 1981 separation, Father Sivley went home to be with our Lord. When Father Beamer arrived in 1982, plans already underway for a 2,000-square-foot expansion of the church building were completed. The new two-story addition (called the Ed Wing) housed the majority of the Sunday School classes and the expanded St. James’ Nursery School. The addition was also the focal point for parish fellowship gatherings and community activities. Father Beamer was instrumental in returning St. James’ to a parish status. When the Reverend Robert Herzog arrived in 1989, he became very active in the Mount Airy Ministerium and also was a co-founder of Mount Airy NET, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping the less fortunate by providing food from the community and clothing from our St. James’ Thrift Shop. Operated solely by volunteers, Mount Airy NET is sponsored by nine area churches and can provide referral service to various County Social Service agencies if the situation is warranted. During Father Herzog’s ministry, a very generous inheritance was received from Mr. Rudy who lived in a house across the street from St. James’. This gift initiated a long-range plan for expansion and the parish purchased twelve acres further north on North Main street for future growth. Since Father Herzog’s family owned a home in Mount Airy, the Rectory was rented and sold in 1998. After a ten-year ministry to the parishioners of St. James’, Father Herzog retired in June 1999.
The turn of the century brought economic expansion to the Mount Airy area as housing developments and new shopping centers appeared. This growth renewed St. James’ dreams for a larger sanctuary, adequate parking, and new classrooms for the very successful Nursery School program. Parish membership increased, as did parish finances, bringing a realistic vision of building on the twelve acres purchased in the 1990s. After Father’s Herzog’s retirement, two Interim Rectors assisted St. James’ during the time of transition—the Reverend Arthur Lillicrop and the Reverend Florence Ledyard. The Reverend Portia R. Hirschman was called as the new Rector in 2002 and, upon her arrival, serious discussion began about design and then construction of the new building on the hill. The journey was not a smooth one—an economic downturn increased estimated costs, the sale of the existing buildings was complicated with title issues, and the original design plan had to be modified. Lead by Reverend Portia+, a very determined congregation pushed forward and September 2007 marked the first service in the new building. Since 2007, every ministry of the parish has flourished—growth in membership, an increase in pledging, successful outreach programs, parish gatherings and suppers, a thriving Nursery School, community events like Crop Walk, and a Stephen Ministries program established. After a dedicated and thriving 12 years of ministry to St. James’ parishioners, Reverend Portia+ retired in January 2014. The Rev. Dr. William J. Doggett arrived in February 2014 to serve St. James’ as Interim Rector while the Search for a new Rector was proceeding.
After an 18 month search process, The Rev. Kristin N. Krantz was called as St. James’ new Rector and began her ministry on September 1, 2015. Rev. Krantz, ordained in 2006, served as the Associate Rector at All Souls Parish in Berkeley, CA until 2014 when her family moved to the Baltimore area and she was appointed Interim Rector at Memorial Episcopal Church in Baltimore. St. James’ welcomes Rev. Krantz as she begins her walk with us into a bright future filled with the new possibilities of mission and ministry.