Among the many little towns in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, Valley Lee is at the tip of one of Herring Creek’s many fingers, where the water meets a hill dotted with poplar trees. Once a junction for transporting the tobacco that came up from the mills, below, and headed down to an inlet port on the Potomac, this village has been home to St. George’s Church since 1638. Later that century, it became the seat of William & Mary Parish — the walls and foundation of the simple, whitewashed church date to that period — but locals sometimes call it ‘Poplar Hill.’ Don’t feel badly if you don’t know where St. Mary’s County, Maryland is or, for that matter, how you’d find Valley Lee.
That’s okay. We appear unassuming and quiet, but we’re in the middle of fascinating growth. Down river from Washington, DC — where the Potomac meets the Chesapeake — the Patuxent River Naval Air Station (‘Pax River’) was established in the early days of World War II, and we’ve grown like gangbusters ever since.
It’s a fascinating place to serve Christ and grow his body, the church. Not only do I serve St. George’s, I also serve Church of the Ascension, Lexington Park, a vital hub of mission and ministry in a critical area in our community. In Valley Lee and Lexington Park, and throughout our county, we’ve got families who trace their lineage back to the 17th century, and newcomers like me. There are folks who remember the hard-scrabble life of tobacco farming, and others who regularly escape the hustle of DC to their weekend place down here.
As for me and my work, I learned early on that serving multiple parishes was the norm not too long ago, and I get to work with two congregations who are excitedly dusting off this older models in order to re-engage one audacious goal — to bring this whole community into deeper relationship with Christ through the work and ministry of the Episcopal Church. Add to that, at the end of the day, there’s a wide rectory porch with several comfortable rocking chairs, and I’d love to show you my happy vantage point. Sometimes I’ve got a myopic view of small-town country life. Sometimes it’s a whole lot of running back and forth. Most of the time I’m blessed to witness, firsthand, the movement of God and the emerging patterns of life and the church.
I’m glad you’ve visited. Let’s talk.