By Jonathan Pitts
It’s 8 a.m. Sunday at St. Hilda’s in Catonsville, and the priest in the pulpit wears a white robe and green chasuble to celebrate the Episcopal Mass — a formal liturgy with roots that date to the 16th century.
Two hours later, he has exchanged the alb and chasuble for a black Joe Flacco jersey to lead an evangelical service — his language now part Billy Graham, part Rodney Dangerfield.
“For the last seven weeks I’ve talked to you about sex,” the Rev. Jason Poling says. “Today I’ll address a completely separate issue: marriage.”
Poling, 43, founded the evangelical New Hope Community Church in Pikesville 13 years ago. This year, at the invitation of Maryland Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton, he launched St. Hilda’s, a new Episcopal congregation in Catonsville.
He now leads both groups in the former St. Timothy’s Church on Ingleside Avenue, a 161-year-old building abandoned three years ago by parishioners concerned that the Episcopal Church was moving too far to the left on gay clergy and same-sex marriage. CONTINUE READING