A visit to the Diocese of Maryland Archives and to the Cathedral Church of the Incarnation. An afternoon of history, of beauty and of memories.


Although the Episcopal Church has been a presence in Maryland since the middle of the seventeenth century, the thought of building a Cathedral for the diocese was not even considered until the beginning of the twentieth. It took several years of floating the idea around, making the rationale widely known and accepted, raising funds, procuring a piece of ground, and forming a core congregation before solid work could begin. Finally, on December 9, 1909, ground was broken at University Parkway and Charles Street, near Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood campus. It was during the episcopate of John Gardner Murray that the cathedral was built. Plans for a magnificent cathedral were drawn up by Henry Vaughn, the architect of the Washington National Cathedral, with the initial stage being the building of the Synod Hall Undercroft. The Undercroft was to serve as a temporary worship space, and the first service was held on June 11, 1911.

The so-called Synod Hall was the first constructed building in the planned complex and the congregation met in the undercroft beginning in 1911. The cornerstone for the Synod Hall proper was laid in 1920 and the first worship service was held in the new space in 1932. Plans for a cathedral complex and a separate larger cathedral were then abandoned, and the Synod Hall was redesignated as the cathedral. For the first 35 years it was known as a pro-cathedral. In 1943, the Cathedral of the Incarnation was first used for the installation ceremony of a bishop, with the ninth Bishop of Maryland, The Rt. Rev. Noble Cilley Powell.

After the cathedral's construction debt was discharged, the Diocese of Maryland passed a resolution establishing the Cathedral of the Incarnation on February 1, 1955, and it was consecrated on November 6, 1955.

The Cathedral House was built in 1967. It houses offices, meeting spaces, and Sunday School rooms.

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There is a long history of the Black Community and the history of Black Slaves in the state of Maryland, and the Episcopal Church is searching a pathway to Reparatons. The Reparations Committee is offering a series of workshops throughout our diocese to provide a better understanding of what reparations means and how our Baptismal Covenant calls us to engage in actions that promote and offer reconciliation, restoration and restitution.

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The Rt. Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton grew up in Washington, D.C. as a Baptist. He graduated from Hope College in Holland, Michigan, in 1976 and earned a Master of Divinity degree from Western Theological Seminary in the same city and was ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Reformed Church in America

A convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland held at St James Episcopal Church (Baltimore, Maryland) elected Sutton as bishop on the first ballot. He was consecrated at the Washington National Cathedral on June 28, 2008, where he had served as canon pastor. The first African American bishop for the Diocese of Maryland, Sutton was installed in the Cathedral of the Incarnation (Baltimore) on June 29, 2008.

The Rt. Rev. Noble Cilley Powell was born on October 27, 1891 in Lowndesboro, Alabama, the son of Benjamin Shelley Powell and Mary Irving Whitman. He was educated at the Alabama Polytechnic Institute between 1911 and 1915 and then at the University of Virginia between 1915 and 1917. He then studied at the Virginia Theological Seminary and graduated in 1920 with a Bachelor of Divinity. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity in 1930 by Virginia Theological, another by Sewanee: The University of the South in 1942 and another from Washington College in 1957. In 1941 he was elected Coadjutor Bishop of Maryland and was consecrated on October 17, 1941 by Presiding Bishop Henry St. George Tucker. He then succeeded Edward T. Helfenstein as diocesan in 1943, and was installed in the Cathedral of the Incarnation on November 21, 1943. He served as bishop of Maryland until 1963.