St. John’s Chapel, Cornersville

To understand St. John’s Chapel is to appreciate its special attachment to the Neck District, a narrow strip of land that lies between the two Choptank rivers, west of Cambridge, Maryland on Route 343. The region derives its name from the distinctive protrusions of land, or “necks,” cut deep into its southern shoreline by tidal creeks with names like Brooks, Hudson, Phillips, Beckwith, Gary and Lee. Before the Bay Bridge was built, the “Neck” was considered remote even by Eastern Shore standards. Yet its remoteness would be matched by the determination of its earliest settles, which, combined, created the unique culture of self-sufficiency that persists among Neck residents to this day.

St. John’s Chapel traces its beginning in the Neck to 1732, when the Cambridge-based Great Choptank Parish built a small “chapel of ease” on the west bank of Castle Haven Creek (now called Chapel Creek). Like the tides, the chapel experienced many ebbs and flows, cycles of use and disuse, growth and closures. Many clergy of the Great Choptank Parish were reluctant to serve there. When the Rev. James Kemp became Rector in 1790 he agreed to preach at the Castle Haven Chapel twice a month. By 1805 he would despair that the building was not often used and was in a state of decay.

The present building owes its existence to the missionary zeal of the Rev. Thomas Barber. Convinced of its need, he pressed upon the Bishop of Easton to restore the chapel, and when no title could be found for the old site, he pressed upon his vestry to produce an acre of ground just a short distance down the road on a tract of land known as “Mitchell’s Garden,” where the present chapel now stands. St. John’s Chapel was dedicated on Easter Day, April 16, 1853.

The Chapel is in a much stronger position today. The family-sized congregation of highly-committed members no longer depends on the Cambridge-based parish. As a mission parish, it functions under the oversight of the Bishop of Easton, with its own bylaws, wardens, and Vicar (priest-in-charge) who provides pastoral care and worship. From time to time, the Chapel hosts community suppers and continues to serve a weekly breakfast in their parish hall that attracts church members as well as friends from the greater community.

As well, the Chapel supports ministries and causes that are important to the community. Food is collected for a local Food Bank, clothes and other services for a local Cold Weather Shelter, toiletries for the Eastern Shore Hospital Center, and school supplies for the kids of a local elementary school. Each year the Chapel awards a number of scholarships to graduating seniors from the area high schools, and donates to such causes as the Pine Street Committee Empowerment Center, CASA, Pleasant Day Adult Care, and Future Focus Recovery House for Women.

The mission of St. John’s Chapel speaks of “striving to use our gifts and talents that we may minister to the community at large.” Indeed, the doors of the Chapel are always open to all who seek to worship God, to all who need prayer or guidance, or to anyone simply looking for a friend in the community.

Sunday services are at 9:00 am. All are welcome. Contact the Vicar at for further information.