Our parish history is unique and vibrant!
Columbia, Maryland was founded in the late 1960’s to be a home for economic and social diversity, and St. John the Evangelist was established in 1967 to be the Catholic parish reflecting and celebrating the diversity of the community.
We are pleased to share these parish history reminiscences on the occasion of our 50th anniversary in 2017.
- How St. John’s came to be – How it developed and why it worships in Interfaith Centers
- Fr. John Walsh – Early Columbia interfaith and first pastor of St. John the Evangelist
- Fr. George Zorn – A Jesuit was sent to help get the interfaith project off the ground in the late 60’s and was assigned to our parish.
- St. John Pastors and Associate Pastors (updated 2022)
- Where did we go for Sunday Mass over the years – Movable Mass locations as the parish grew
- Early Money Woes – Innovative solution to a financial problem
Memories of early liturgies
- Kahler Hall ecumenical services – Joint services with Christ Episcopal Church
- Red balloons – An innovative Pentecost service
- Ash Wednesday fire and smoke – Unexpected consequences at a solemn service
- Liturgical clowns – Clowns at work for the Lord
- Liturgical dance – Dancers adding movement and grace to solemn services
- More photos of early liturgies
Reflections on early ministries
- Faith in the home – Elementary religious education taught by lay people in private homes
- Mothers Day plant sale – Blooms and tomatoes at Wilde Lake
- San Roque El Salvador – St. John’s had a “sister parish” relationship with a parish in El Salvador from 1987-1994
- Interfaith Religious Education for elementary school children – A very innovative joint vacation bible study venture of Christian and Jewish congregations in Oakland Mills Interfaith Center
- More photos of early ministries
Reflections on early activities that we continue to do
- Hosting teens for peace – Summer visits from students from Northern Ireland, Cyprus, and Israel/Palestine
- Give It a Second Life – Annual collection of bikes, sewing machines, musical instruments and more to benefit the needy at home and around the world
- Prison Ministry – Over twenty-four years of parishioners visiting inmates at the Maryland Correctional Institute
Add to our story
We encourage anyone who would like to add to this published list of interesting activities started during the parish’s first 50 years to send your reminisces to Paul Gifford at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You will notice that some articles have no names mentioned, incomplete lists of people who participated in an activity, or no acknowledgement of a photographer. We would love to add names to complete the stories for posterity. If you can fill in any blanks, please email email@example.com with the information and we will post the corrections.
Check out the book
All footnotes found in these articles which cite “Creative Tension” refer to CREATIVE TENSION: MEMORIES OF EARLY INTERFAITH EXPERIENCES IN COLUMBIA, MARYLAND. Edited by Carolyn Arena and Elizabeth Martin. Etchings Publishing, Baltimore, Md., 2017.
The book is available for $15, and all proceeds go to the Coalition for Compassion. Copies can be purchased from the Wilde Lake and Oakland Mills offices (a check made out to OMI is preferred) or contact Carolyn Arena at firstname.lastname@example.org. The book can also be bought at, or borrowed from, the Wilde Lake Interfaith Library which is open on Sunday mornings.