The St. Christopher’s congregation began in 1956 with services held above the West Lanham firehouse. Led by the Rev. Reid Isaac as Vicar, the group originally known as “the Firehouse Gang,” laid the cornerstone for St Christopher’s Church on November 3, 1957. From its conception the church and surrounding community were intimately connected. The men of the congregation build the altar, pulpit, lectern and sanctuary chairs. Arranged as a church-in-the- round with the cross at the center, it was designed to allow people to be closer to the altar and to remind us that all we do is in the sight of God. St Christopher’s began programs such as a men’s discussion group, chancel dramas and a Sunday School program that grew to 300 students.
The 1970s and 1980s saw St Christopher’s hosting square dances, establishing a chapter of Episcopal Church Women and forming Youth Episcopal Service with St. George’s Chapel. The congregation also intentionally pursued racial integration during this period. In the 1980s St Christopher’s congregation grew widely in members from the Caribbean and West Africa and many programs were established. Among those were an annual Handel’s Messiah concert begun in 1995, and a bi-monthly Igbo service begun in 1999.
Today, St Christopher’s continues to find new ways to serve its parishioners and the community at large. Recent additions to outreach include a community garden and support of Charles Carroll Middle School students. In 2014 the Rev. Melana Nelson-Amaker joined St. Christopher’s as its first permanent female rector and the first rector of color. Under her leadership the church developed a long-range partnership with the New Carrollton Library, and increased connection with the surrounding community. The church has built a warm relationship with Iglesia Cristo Viene Ya, a Spanish-speaking congregation that shares the building. St. Christopher’s offers Sunday School classes and Youth Sundays every fifth Sunday. The style of worship and fellowship gatherings intentionally reflect the rich cultural mix found amongst the membership.
Rectors of St. Christopher’s
The Rev. James Adams 1960-1966
The Rev. Vance Johnson 1966-1971
The Rev. Martin Townsend 1971-1978
The Rev. James Alves 1978-1990
The Rev. Jonathan Currier 1993-2009
The Rev. Melana Nelson-Amaker 2014--present