Saint John the Baptist Orthodox Church began as a small mission in the Charismatic Episcopal Church (called Lamb of God Church) on Christmas Eve, 2005 under the pastoral leadership of Father 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 MacGregor, 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 Waggener 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, and since St. John the Baptist had been their patron saint, they requested to bear his name. Metropolitan PHILIP agreed and blessed the new mission as St. John the Baptist Mission on March 20, 2009. On April 11th, 2009 (Lazarus Saturday), 26 people were chrismated by Fr. Nicholas Alford at Saints Peter and Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church in Potomac, Maryland. Saint John the Baptist became the only Western Rite mission in Maryland, and until Fr. James’ ordination, the mission was served by Fr. Peter Jacobsen, a retired Western Rite priest from New York. Bishop THOMAS ordained Fr. James a deacon on July 15, 2009 at St. Ignatius Chapel in Bolivar, PA, and a priest on August 23, 2009 at Saint Basil the Great Church in Poquoson, VA.
Other milestone events include the ordination of Subdeacon Stephen Kerr to the Holy Diaconate by His Grace Bishop JOHN on December 11, 2016, allowing Deacon Stephen to partner with Father James in the pastoral life of the mission. And on January 1, 2018, St. John the Baptist Orthodox Mission was granted parish status by the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese, becoming St. John the Baptist Antiochian Orthodox Parish.
Since its birth in March 2009, St. John the Baptist Parish has continued to see slow, yet steady growth, drawing new catechumens each year from various denominations, and establishing an array of ministries which serve the parish members, the local community, the diocese, and beyond.