A legacy of mission and ministry
St. Mary’s was founded in 1883 as a mission church of the Church of the Redeemer in Bryn Mawr. For many years, St. Mary’s served mill workers in the Ardmore area. The mission prospered and many members of the Church of the Redeemer became permanent members of St. Mary’s, alongside many working class members. This blending of rich and poor, black and white, able and disabled continues today. In 1886, land was purchased on Ardmore Avenue for the permanent chapel, and architect Frank Furness and his partner Allen Evans were hired to design the new building. In 1887, St. Mary’s became an independent parish.
In 1895, the women of St. Mary’s began the St. Mary’s Laundry, which provided year-round employment for 100 local women. Although the laundry was eventually sold, St. Mary’s addressed the Great Depression and its hardships by starting a Bargain Counter in 1932, which continued until 2005.
Today, St. Mary’s continues this legacy of mission and ministry through its partnership with various local, national and international organizations. At Womanspace, a substance abuse rehabilitation facility on Ardmore Avenue, we offer training, life skills and employment opportunities. St. Mary’s also aids distressed families as one of nine local host congregations comprising the Interfaith Hospitality Network. Every nine weeks, we offer homeless families meals, lodging and hospitality. St. Mary’s parishioners transport beds and belongings, host meals and serve as overnight hosts, providing critical assistance to families in transition. St. Mary's sponsors the Ardmore Food Pantry, collecting and storing donations in the parish hall and staffing the pantry with volunteers three days a week.
St. Mary’s continues to honor its legacy and is an inclusive, diverse community of followers of Jesus Christ striving to grow in love, celebrating all people in their spiritual journey, and serving the world in Christ’s name.