- The Washington Times - Friday, September 25, 2009

The Boy Scouts who meet in Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Bowie have played a vital role in maintaining the 14-acre property, including its 600-grave cemetery.

“There is a project where the Boy Scouts scrub the tombstones. They wear industrial gloves up to their elbows,” said Curtis Reiber, chairman of the church’s building and grounds committee.

The Eagle Scouts also have done an impressive job clearing underbrush from trails and completing other general maintenance tasks on church property, Mr. Reiber said. This autumn the Scouts are scheduled to tackle an ivy problem.

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Holy Trinity Episcopal Church has been hosting the Boy Scouts since 1967. Several troops were looking for a place to meet, and church leaders thought it would be a great partnership. The Scouts are not required to be members of the church or attend services.

The church has historical roots that parallel America’s, as its congregation traces back to Maryland’s Queen Anne Parish in the 1600s. Holy Trinity became independent of the parish in 1836.

The story of the church begins with influential French Huguenot Mareen Duvall, an ancestor of President Obama’s who settled in Maryland in 1655 after fleeing religious persecution. As a successful merchant and farmer, he acquired thousands of acres of land in what are now Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties. He also owned slaves.

Duvall, Mr. Obama’s ninth great-grandfather and former Vice President Dick Cheney’s eighth great-grandfather, died in 1699. In 1705, his son, John, and widow, Mary, donated resources and land where Holy Trinity still stands.

The church’s Web site describes Mary Duvall as both founder and the “driving force that brought the congregation together.” Her final husband, the Rev. Jacob Henderson, built Henderson’s Chapel, the red brick building where church members find sanctuary today. Mary Duvall was buried in a crypt beneath the church in 1735.

Today, the church continues to grow - it has acquired responsibility for another, off-site cemetery and opened Holy Trinity Episcopal Day School, a private school with the capacity to serve 622 students from preschool through eighth grade. The church began the school in 1963 as a preschool.

In 1992, Troop 403 donated a bench in the cemetery, thanking the congregation for supporting the Scouts for 25 years.

“The Scouts have done some really important projects, including creating a computerized record with drawings that accounts for all the bodies buried in the cemetery,” said history buff Karen Sharp, a member of the congregation since 1977. “The project brought the cemetery records up to the 21st century.”

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