All Saints Church, Chevy Chase Parish, was founded more than 120 years ago as a leap of faith. From our beginning in 1897 as a mission church, settling into the abandoned one-room schoolhouse, All Saints has sought to live out Christ’s Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20). Ground was broken for a building for All Saints Church on Chevy Chase Circle in 1901. Senator Francis G. Newlands donated the land, and builders Richardson and Burgess did the construction – refusing to profit from the church’s construction. By 1913, more space was needed, and the Guild Hall was built, another leap of faith for the church and for Mrs. Anna M. Kingan who financed much of the construction. By 1920, it was clear that yet more space was needed to accommodate the church’s growing congregation. In 1926, the current Nave and Chancel were completed, in spite of a fire early in the project.
During the Great Depression, All Saints continued to meet the church’s commitment to mission by sacrificial giving even during the bleak economic climate. The parish’s monetary outreach was supplemented by contributions of clothing and food. During the Second World War, All Saints committed funding, time, hard work, and a number of young men to the war effort. Their names are etched within the pages of our “Roll of Honor” in the Book of Remembrance. Through these selfless sacrifices, All Saints sought to make a difference in its small corner of the world.
By the end of the 1940’s, All Saints had the largest Sunday School enrollment in the Diocese of Washington (some eight hundred students!) In 1948, more classroom space was necessary, so the rectory was torn down and replaced with a parish house, at which time the transepts were added to the Nave, providing additional seating for almost 130 people. In 1955 - in a leap of faith of a different sort - the first women were elected to the Vestry of All Saints. By the early 1980’s, the physical plant at All Saints began to suffer from age, and the space no longer met the needs of the diverse programs offered to the parish family. The Vestry took yet another leap of faith and launched a capital campaign under the leadership of Dr. Phillip Cato, interim rector, and an addition, as well as renovations to the parish house, were completed in 2001.
From the time of our first Rector, the Rev. Dr. Thomas S. Childs, through the tenures of the dedicated men who followed him, we have leaped, and leaped, and leaped again. All Saints was blessed with leadership of diverse and visionary Rectors that shepherded it’s people and oversaw the expansion of the Church through a century. We have built and rebuilt, instituted a preschool, and tried to be Christ’s hands on the Circle and in the world. The Rev. Edward T. Kelaher was inducted as Rector of All Saints Church on October 5, 2011 and 2021 marks his 10 year anniversary at All Saints. Since Rev. Kelaher’s arrival, he has emphasized becoming a true “Kingdom Church”, and his love for our church, the community, and most importantly the Gospel of Jesus Christ has set the course for our future.
In the first quarter of the 21st century, further improvements have been completed on our building, including the renovation of second floor offices, Sunday School classrooms, conference room, and the Bride’s Room. In 2017, important work was completed to re-roof the Church! The roof covered an expanse of history between 64 and 120 years and large sections of the roof had fallen into significant disrepair. The Capital Building Campaign made the roof replacement a critical priority and an expert team was formed to install new slates. Most interesting is that the slates above Memorial Hall are still the original Buckingham slates from 1901, renowned for their hardiness and durability and intended to last over 175 years – a gift to future generations of worshippers. Other recent improvements include new Main Entrance doors - consecrated in 2019 - and the installation of a beautiful Celtic Cross in the Columbarium.
In March of 2018, All Saints announced the launch of the Kingdom Campaign, a special fundraising initiative over four years that ends in December 2021. The goal was to ensure the parish’s secure financial future for the next generation and to continue to build a spiritual and concrete legacy for the future. It has been an exciting and fruitful time to be at All Saints Church and the Lord has blessed our church greatly with the generosity of its people. Through this hugely successful effort, we were able to expand our Gospel ministries, grow our church family, and better serve our own community in Jesus' name.