Rev. Ervin A. Brown, Episcopal priest, dies

Episcopal rector led pilgrimages to Israel and served congregations in Baltimore and on the Eastern Shore

The Rev. Ervin Adams Brown III, an Episcopal priest who led churches in Baltimore and St. Michaels, died of kidney failure Dec. 12 at Augsburg Village in Lochearn.

The former Butchers Hill resident was 79.

"Erv was a priest who was all about love: loving his family, loving his faith communities, loving God," said Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton. "The world is a better and more loving place because Erv Brown lived in it, and he will be greatly missed."

Born in Birmingham, Ala., he was the son of Ervin Adams Brown Jr. and Annilee Thornhill Brown.

He was a 1954 graduate of Ensley High School and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of Alabama, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

He joined the Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity and was its chapter president. He spent a year after leaving the university working for the national fraternity and visited its local chapters.

He then received a master's degree in public administration at Indiana University. While there, he met his future wife, Letetia "Tish" Holloway.

They married at Baltimore's Church of the Redeemer in 1960.

He became dean of men at Bowling Green State University and later decided to enter Virginia Theological Seminary, graduating in 1965.

Mr. Brown was named assistant rector at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Ruxton, and also served as rector at St. John's Episcopal Church in Glyndon in the late 1960s and 1970s.

He met Peter Rowe, then a young acolyte and now a professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

"We were lucky to have Erv as a friend of my entire family," said Dr. Rowe, a Towson resident. "That friendship was enduring. He took a stance on important issues before they became widely popular, including his opposition to the Vietnam War. He was a strong believer in openness and that all people were valued in his church."

"Erv was a fair man and a kind man," Dr. Rowe said. "He did not sweat the small, unimportant details."

In the 1970s and 1980s, Mr. Brown served as rector of parishes in Lynchburg, Va.; Detroit, Mich.; and St. Michaels in Talbot County.

He retired in 2002 and moved to Baltimore's Butchers Hill neighborhood. He continued to work, serving as interim dean of the Cathedral of the Incarnation on University Parkway.

He was also on the staffs of the Church of the Redeemer and Memorial Episcopal Church in Bolton Hill.

Mr. Brown and his wife enjoyed travel. He led pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Britain and Spain.

"He was particularly moved by the plight of the Palestinian people and had a special relationship with leaders of the Anglican church in the Middle East," said his daughter, Laura Thornhill McCabe of Alexandria, Va. "He was an expert in the history of Israel."

His daughter also said: "He also advocated for the rights of gays and lesbians and was asked by the bishop of the Diocese of Southeasterm Michigan to perform the first blessing of a same-sex couple in the diocese in 1992."

Mr. Brown, who attended University of Alabama football games as a student, remained an avid fan.

In addition to his traveling, he read widely and made needlepoint tapestries and kneeler cushions.

Services will be held at 2 p.m. Jan. 7 at Memorial Episcopal Church, Bolton Street and Lafayette Avenue.

In addition to his wife of 56 years, a former Friends School teacher who became a hospital chaplain, and his daughter, survivors include a son, Paul Edmund Brown of Kensington; another daughter, Holly Elizabeth Brown of Baltimore; a sister, Nell Charlton Brown Hampton of Scotland in St. Mary's County; and four grandchildren.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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