Newly confirmed Catholics Sheila Schmolitz, 75, and her cousin Anita Goldman, 74, were Jewish but felt at home at Christ the King, too. Schmolitz makes the trek from Bel Air.
Baltimore County. "The more I came, the more I felt welcome."
Phoenix resident Nancy Witkowski, raised in the United Church of Christ, is among the 10 or so parishioners who are staying with Christ the King even though they're not sure whether they want to be Catholic. For her husband, raised Catholic, and their two children, baptized in the Catholic Church, the decision was easy. For Witkowski, who said she doesn't see eye-to-eye with all Catholic teachings, time and more study is required.
"But I would follow Father Ed wherever he went because it's a wonderful church," she said.
She loves the "intimate" setting, so much smaller than Catholic churches she attended in the past. And the glorious music. And Meeks' sermons, so full of interesting historical context that it's not unusual to see parishioners taking notes.
Unless she becomes Catholic, though, she now cannot take communion at Christ the King. And she will miss that.
But unification does appeal to her. She remembers the sermon Meeks gave in 2010 when he called on the church to make the trip with him, likening the Protestant denominations to lifeboats bobbing on the open sea and the Catholic Church to a solid aircraft carrier.
"The idea of one church is really what it should be all about, and that's what we're going towards," Witkowski said.
The move can be complex. The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland owned Mount Calvary's building and agreed after negotiations to let the Baltimore parish buy it. For Christ the King, which wasn't Episcopal and owned its property, the switchover was somewhat simpler.
Meeks, 64 — ordained Saturday in Washington — attributes some of his youthful decision not to become a Catholic priest to a "heavy dose of immaturity." But if not for that choice, he wouldn't have married Jan. Their four children and 13 grandchildren never would have existed. And he wouldn't have stood in the church he founded as his parish joined the Catholic Church with him.
He gives thanks for the unusual journey to the priesthood.
"When I look back over it, I see God's hand in it every step of the way," he said. "And I'm so very grateful for that grace of God, so very grateful for the generosity of the church in allowing me to do this."