Three years ago, St Peter’s Episcopal Church in Ellicott City was declared by its bishop to be imperiled, and its vestry dissolved. A few months later, deeper tragedy struck when a homeless visitor known to the church killed its administrator, Brenda Brewington, and co-rector Mary-Marguerite Kohn.
Last week, the Baltimore Sun reported on the service of celebration that cemented the parish’s return to good standing in the diocese.
“This church was doubly traumatized,” said [Bishop] Sutton, who had placed St. Peter’s under the diocese’s control. “They were already dealing with [imperilment] and a change in church leadership, and then blood was spilled in the church building.” …
“Death is never the last word and St. Peter’s is an example of that,” he said. “Positive things can happen after tragedy if people are determined.”
Parishioners paid tribute to the women who had died in the Sun story:
“Things were very grim with financial difficulties to the extreme and a great deal of infighting and mistrust within the congregation,” said Katherine Schnorrenberg, junior warden of the vestry.
“We thought things were as bad as they could possibly get,” before the fatal shootings, she said. “But we were so wrong.”
After the murders, church members chose to continue holding services in their own building instead of accepting an offer to meet for a while at nearby St. John’s Episcopal Church and that’s when people began to move toward resolving past issues, she said.
“We pulled ourselves together and talked about what we could be,” Schnorrenberg said. “St. Peter’s is not the same place as it was, and we are who we are today because Brenda and Mary-Marguerite gave their lives unexpectedly and saved us.”
The Rev Henry Thomas Slawson III is the new rector at St Peter’s, and the vestry was commissioned along with him at a service last Wednesday evening. Read more from the Baltimore Sun here.
Photo: St Peter’s Episcopal Church at Ellicott Mills cover photo, via FaceBook. Posted by Rosalind Hughes