New Mission in Maryland
St. John the Baptist Mission began as a small mission in the Charismatic Episcopal Church (called Lamb of God Church) on Christmas Eve, 2005 under the pastoral leadership of Fr. James K. Hamrick, a CEC priest and a former United Methodist pastor. The congregation, made up mostly of former Methodists, found a historic chapel for lease in Lewistown, Maryland, just north of Frederick, Maryland, an hour west of Baltimore and an hour northwest of D.C. The chapel, originally built in 1833 as a Methodist Church, has been home for the congregation since.
In August 2006, Fr. James met Fr. Gregory McGregor, an Orthodox priest in southeastern Virginia, which prompted Fr. James to begin examining the claims of Orthodoxy. Two years later, in the summer of 2008, the congregation's bishop retired, causing the people to search in earnest for where God was leading them next. Fr. James and the people of Lamb of God Church examined a number of continuing Anglican groups, but only with limited enthusiasm. Finally, at a clericus gathering in Towson, Maryland on September 17, 2008, Fr. James heard a compelling presentation given by Fr. Patrick Cardine and Fr. Alban Waggoner on the Orthodox Church. Father James presented the congregation with this invitation to consider the Orthodox Church, and in short order the people began to discern that the Holy Orthodox Church was where God was indeed directing them. At the request of Fr. James, Bishop THOMAS visited the congregation in October 2008 in order to answer questions and to encourage the people as they discerned their call. With strong consensus among the people, Lamb of God Church officially became a catechumenate mission of the Orthodox Church on November 30, 2008, with Fr. Patrick Cardine and Fr. Nicholas Alford as the assigned catechists.
In coming into Holy Orthodoxy, the people requested a new name for their mission to represent a whole new beginning, but since St. John the Baptist had been their patron saint, they requested to bear his name. Metropolitan PHILIP agreed and the new mission became St. John the Baptist. God willing, on April 11th (Lazarus Saturday), nearly 30 people will be chrismated by Fr. Nicholas Alford at St. Gregory the Great Orthodox Church in Washington, DC. Saint John the Baptist will become a Western Rite mission, and until Fr. James is ordained a priest in the Orthodox Church, Fr. Peter Jacobsen, a retired Western Rite priest from New York, will be serving the mission.