Saint Thomas' Episcopal Parish, Croom, Prince George's County, Maryland was created out of the northern portion of St. Paul's Episcopal Parish (1692) in 1850. Saint Thomas' Parish has been under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Washington since 1895 and prior to that time, the parish was under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Maryland. St. Thomas' has included four congregations: St. Thomas' Church, Croom, Church of the Atonement, Cheltenham, St. Simons Mission, Croom, and The Chapel of the Incarnation, Brandywine, all in Prince George's County, Maryland.
Saint Thomas' Church, located in Croom, was built between 1743-1745. The original church building was a simple, yet well designed, English Georgian "auditory" church constructed by Daniel Page. Until 1850 it was known as Page’s Chapel. The longest serving rector during the colonial period, 1728-1775, was John Eversfield. The church was also the home church of Bishop Thomas John Claggett, the first Episcopal bishop to be consecrated on American soil. The church was "Victorianized" in the 1850s and 1860s and a bell tower in memory of Bishop Claggett was added in 1888. The church was renovated in the 1950s to incorporate Victorian and Colonial elements within a harmonious design. The parish register has recorded approximately 875 graves. The graves date back to the mid-1740's. St. Thomas' Church is a Prince George's County Historic Site and is also on The National Register of Historic Places.
In April 1874, the Church of the Atonement was opened in Cheltenham to serve the southern portion of the parish. Bishop Pinkney of Maryland consecrated the church in 1875 during the rectorate of Samuel R. Gordon, the parish's longest serving rector to date. When the Chapel of the Incarnation was opened in 1916, the congregation at the Church of the Atonement declined and soon the church fell into disuse. In 1947, the church was deconsecrated and demolished. Graves in the cemetery date from the mid-1870s to the present time. There is a cemetery at the site.
In 1896, St. Simon's Mission was established in Croom as an African-American parochial mission by the Misses Susie, Kate and Elizabeth Willes as a Sunday school during the rectorate of their brother, Reverend Francis P. Willes. Two Sunday School classrooms were moved across St. Thomas' Church road and the mission chapel was established on land purchased by Miss Susan Willes. It became an independent mission in 1902 under the auspices of the Diocese of Washington. In 1964, the congregation of St. Simon's was integrated with that of St. Thomas'. The buildings of St. Simon's were demolished in the early 1970's. The cemetery was the first cemetery in Croom for African-Americans. The site of St. Simons's Mission is a Prince George's County Historical Resource Site.
In 1916 the cornerstone for the Chapel of the Incarnation was laid in the railroad town of Brandywine. The architect and builder was William J. Palmer of Washington, DC. Palmer designed the chapel in the Spanish Mission style. The chapel is unique in that it is one of the few, and perhaps only, examples of this style in southern Maryland. Bishop Harding consecrated the chapel in October 1923. The Chapel is home to the offices of Community Support Systems a non-profit community assistance organization. The Chapel maintains an active congregation. The Chapel of the Incarnation is a Prince George's County Historic Site and is also on The National Register of Historic Places.
To read more about the history of St. Thomas' Parish, download this pdf .