Majority of Maryland church votes to enter Roman Catholic Church

[Episcopal Diocese of Maryland] Following several months of prayerful discernment, the majority of members of St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Catonsville, Maryland, have decided to enter the Catholic Church as part of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.

Members voted on Feb. 10 whether to leave the Episcopal Church and whether to enter the Ordinariate. Eighty of 100 parishioners were present; 55 were voting members. Of the voting members, six people abstained; 83 percent elected to leave the Episcopal Church and 76 percent to enter the Ordinariate. The vote was held in the presence of the Rev. Scott Slater, canon to the ordinary for the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, and Rev. Scott Hurd, vicar general for the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.

Slater stated, “This has been a thoughtful, prayerful and respectful process. While the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland is saddened when any of its members leaves one of its parishes, we rejoice that several members of St. Timothy’s have found a new spiritual home and we wish God’s blessing on them.”

“This has been a long process of discernment, guided by the Holy Spirit,” said the Rev. Terry Sweeney, rector. He added, “I am grateful for the gift of faith nurtured within the Episcopal Church and for the opportunity for those members who have been called to continue their journey of faith within the Catholic Church to be able to do so without losing the beauty of Anglican traditions.”

Sweeney will retire as an Episcopal priest on April 1, 2013.

The parish property, 200 Ingleside Ave., Catonsville, MD 21228, is held in trust for the Episcopal diocese. The new Catholic community will identify its new home immediately after Easter. In the meantime, two worship services will be held on Sundays: 9 a.m. for those who wish to remain in the Episcopal Church and 10:30 a.m. for those entering the Ordinariate.

“We welcome the members of St. Timothy who are making this faith journey, and thank the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland for being open to the to working with the community during this transition,” said Hurd.

The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland is a Christian community of 22,000 households in 111 congregations covering 10 counties and Baltimore City.

The Episcopal Church is a community of 2.4 million members in 100 nationwide dioceses, 10 overseas dioceses and six extra-provincial territories. The Anglican Communion is a global community of 77 million Anglicans in 38 member churches/provinces, including The Episcopal Church.

Two other churches in the Baltimore area, Christ the King Anglican in Towson, and Mount Calvary Episcopal in Baltimore, became Catholic through the Ordinariate in 2012. The Ordinariate includes 36 communities, 30 priests and more than 1,600 people in the United States and Canada. It was established on January 1, 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI. In 2009, the Pope issued an apostolic constitution, Anglicanorum coetibus, permitting the creation of ordinariates, which are similar to dioceses, for former Anglicans who were seeking to enter the Catholic Church in a “corporate manner”; that is, in groups. While fully Catholic, these communities retain many aspects of their Anglican traditions and heritage. Ordinariates also exist in the United Kingdom and Australia.

The Catholic Church includes 77 million people in the United States and 1.2 billion people worldwide.


  1. patrick Bone says:

    As a former Catholic priest who now serves in an Episcopal diocese, I have discoved the differences between the polity of the two churches first-hand. I have no personal or theological objections to an Episcopal parish’s decision to enter the Roman Catholic Church. What I find incongruent is the Episcopal parish’s decision to enter under the illusion they will be allowed to keep their Episcopal traditions. To be specific: from my experience, the primary difference between the Roman Catholic Church and the Episcopal Catholic Church is authority and intrepation of Scripture and theology. In the RC Church, authority and interpretation is vested totally in the Papacy and Epsicopacy. Not even the Pastor at the parish level has the authority to make decisions related to church policy or theology. What makes the Episcopal Church chrismatic is the process of lay authority as an essential party to the interpretation of what we call, for lack of a better understanding, the Holy Spirit. I wish all parties concerned the best in this decision. As I know all too well, no church contains all truth. But all churches cling to their traditions and are not known for allowing converts to keep or establish their own past traditions. God bless.

  2. Alda Morgan says:

    While I’m saddened by the outcome of this process of discernment, I rejoice that the diocese did not resist it, but was pastoral and respectful as it unfolded. This allows the separation to take place without the corrosion of bitterness that attends so many of the stories where Episcopal congregations split, often fighting over property. I wish more of our dioceses had been able to make this sad transition in that spirit.

  3. Nicholas Forde says:

    Where does the “2.4 million member” statistic come from? I thought that the shrinking sect had fallen below 2 million in 2009 or 2010?

  4. Barbara Hopwood says:

    Mr Forde, Plus or minus 2.4 million I am proud to be an active lifelong Episcopalian.

    • Steven Long says:

      It’s lower than you think and falling Sunday by Sunday. I’m a “cradle” Episcopalian, 5th generation or more, and I’m embarrassed at what the church has become, so I say 3 cheers for St. Timothy – Cantonsville for returning to the only source of the historic and orthodox faith. In 10 to 15 years, the EC will be just a pleasant memory.

  5. Lister Tonge says:

    God bless these folk. The process seems thb devoid of the point-scoring in some of the comments above.

  6. Devin Smith says:

    Praise God! The time of Unity is drawing closer. I pray soon there will soon be only One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Let us continue to pray for UNITY!
    -Baltimore Resident

  7. BobCatonsville says:

    The decision to join with Rome belongs entirely to the congregants of St. Tim’s. I wonder, however, what they now do with the Three Banners of the Reformation — Sola Scripture, Sola Fide and Sola Gratia — now that they’ve joined a body that has little or no regard for these foundational Episcopal/Anglican principles. St. Timothy’s disagreements with the Episcopal Church once centered on these basic Protestant beliefs and adherence to the principles of the 39 Articles. It seems to me they’ve gone from the frying pan into the fire. I wish them well.

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