The Church of the Ascension began its journey on November 28, 1843, when a small group of concerned local Episcopalians met for the purpose of organizing a congregation in Westminster, which at the time was a small village with a population of approximately 500. In May 1844, the Diocesan Convention, held in Baltimore, voted to grant the formal organization of the “Parish of Ascension.” Fundraising began and in August 1844 ground was broken on our Stone Church. In May 1846, on Ascension Day, Church of the Ascension was consecrated.
This original building, now affectionately referred to as the Stone Church, exemplifies the Neo-Gothic architectural style advocated by the Ecclesiological Society in the 19th century. The Stone Church has been modified only slightly in the past 170-plus years, and is recognized as an historic property by the Maryland Historical Trust.
Historic figures, and fellow Episcopalians, such as Carroll County’s own Francis Scott Key would probably feel right at home in the Stone Church even today. One of Ascension’s historic memorials honors Francis Scott Key who was a known associate of our founders, and involved in the outreach to the African-American community. The house located at 30 N. Court Street was home to the first “Colored Sunday School,” and is still a part of our church campus.
By 1944, the parish campus consisted of the Stone Church, a parish house built in 1932, and the Parke House, (the church’s rectory). The Holy Cross House was added in 1961, the Holy Cross Hall replaced the old parish house in 1975, and the Fellowship Hall was built in 2000. Our facility is part of the Westminster Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Twice in our history, Ascension has sponsored a mission parish. The first, St Mark’s Chapel in Uniontown, was consecrated in 1862, but disbanded in 1879. The other, St. George’s in Manchester, was organized in 1956 and is now a regular parish.
Church of the Ascension has had 33 rectors who have served the members of the Church faithfully, beginning with The Rev. David Hillhouse Buel to our current rector, The Rev. Samuel Nsengiyumva.