St. John’s Church probably had its beginnings as a “church of logs” built in a clearing at Elk Neck along the Gunpowder River in upper Baltimore County. It was founded in 1692 with the formation of its first Vestry as a parish of the Church of England. Tobacco was an important crop in this area and depended heavily on slave labor.
A brick church building would eventually be built in Joppa Town in 1724. The famous English evangelist, George Whitfield, preached here during his travels throughout the early colonies in 1739. Whitfield was an important leader in the First Great Awakening in America. The church gradually decayed along with the town throughout the 18th Century. As a result of the American Revolution, St. John’s in the Church of England became St. John’s Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Church breaking away from its older English mother church and forming the first independent branch of the Worldwide Anglican Communion.
The old white Chapel at the present location of St. John’s Church was built in 1817 and used throughout the 19th Century. In the 1890s the main grey stone church building was built. It is a beautiful example of late Victorian English Gothic Revival and has been used for our main place of worship ever since.