St. Barnabas & St. Susanna Coptic Orthodox Church Taking Over Former Sts. Stephen and James in Federal Hill

| October 15, 2019 | 0 Comments

Coptic Orthodox Church St. Barnabas & St. Susanna (SBSS) will be taking over the historic church building at 938 S. Hanover St. in Federal Hill/Sharp-Leadenhall that was the former home to Sts. Stephen and James Evangelical Lutheran Church. SBSS purchased the building in recent weeks, has started renovations, and hopes to host its first service in January.

Sts. Stephen and James was a fixture in South Baltimore for 166 years before deciding to close in 2018. It was a popular church with German immigrants in South Baltimore, but declining membership in recent years resulted in the closing of the church and putting the property up for sale.

SBSS is looking to spend $250,000 to $300,000 on improvements for the 6,055 sq. ft. building. This will include painting the entire church, removing all asbestos and lead, adding new flooring, remodeling the bathrooms, upgrading the kitchen, adding central air, and cleaning up the courtyard. SBSS community members will assist in the renovations. Volunteer days have already begun.

SBSS is raising money for these improvements through a GoFundMe and various fundraisers, including a team in the Baltimore Running Festival.

SBSS is happy to have its own facility as it previously held services on the fourth floor of The Grand Baltimore hotel in Downtown. SBSS started services in 2015 and was launched by St. Mary Coptic Orthodox Church of Cooksville, MD to serve the Baltimore college population and the younger generation around Baltimore. SBSS is led by Father David Milad. Both churches are part of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and West Virginia. The Coptic Orthodox Church was started in Egypt in in the first century.

SBSS Secretary of the Board Christina Labib said they looked all around the Baltimore area for a building, but really liked the Federal Hill property because of the exposure the highly-visible building will give them, its historic character, the surrounding community, and its location which will enable them to conduct nearby outreach to those in need.

The community of SBSS is currently about 40 to 45 families and the new building gives them plenty of room for growth as the sanctuary has a capacity of over 700. The sanctuary features first-floor pews, an alter, a balcony with seating and an organ, tall ceilings with exposed beams, and stained glass windows.

In a phase two renovation, SBSS will add iconostasis (icons and religious paintings) to the church.

The brick exterior of the church has two large towers with crosses that are two of the tallest structures in Federal Hill.

The basement holds about 200 people. SBSS hopes to use the space for social activities, bazaars, and as a soup kitchen for the homeless.

The courtyard will also be used for social gatherings.

SBSS has partnered with several local businesses and churches for parking during Sunday services. Labib said there are a lot of Ravens fans in the SBSS community and they look forward to being in the area on game days.

SBSS video about its new church 

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Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, beach volleyball enthusiast, dog lover, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
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