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The Rev. Philip B. Roulette, rector of St. John's Episcopal Church in Glyndon, dies

The Rev. Philip B. Roulette, Episcopal rector and co-author of Baltimore Declaration, died.

The Rev. Philip B. Roulette, the former longtime rector of St. John's Episcopal Church in Glyndon who was co-author with five other Episcopal priests of the Baltimore Declaration, died of cancer Saturday at his home in Rodgers Forge.

Father Roulette died four days before his 75th birthday.

"I have known Philip Roulette a third of my life, and I can say that he was a man of conviction, gratitude and utter integrity in his faith. He was steadfast," said the Rev. William N. McKeachie, former rector of Old St. Paul's Episcopal Church.

"His integrity was rooted in love. He was a person who was strong in the love he received from God. Love was the basis of his strength and faith," said Father McKeachie. "He was a stalwart. He was steadfast. I can't think of anyone else that I can say that about. The love of God was what overruled anything and everything else. That was the witness he was called to do. He was called to the church and Jesus Christ."

The son of George Edward Roulette Jr., an insurance broker, and Page Burwell, a homemaker, Philip Burwell Roulette was born and raised in Hagerstown.

He earned a bachelor's degree from Washington and Lee University in 1964 and a degree in theology from Virginia Theological Seminary in 1967.

Ordained an Episcopal priest in 1968, Father Roulette began his ecclesiastical career as assistant rector at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in North Baltimore, and later was named rector of St. Christopher's Episcopal Church in Linthicum.

In 1974, he was named rector of St. John's in Glyndon, where he remained until retiring in 2003.

"Philip had a profound impact on many lives. His Bible study at the Maryland Club was unbelievably inspirational to a lot of men," recalled Madeline Smallwood "Dedi" Whitaker, who is assistant to the rector of the Anglican Church of the Resurrection in Lutherville.

"He was the most pastorally gifted rector I've ever encountered," she said. "When you talked with Philip, he made you feel as if you were the only person in the world he was talking to."

Father Roulette was an imposing figure with a "beautiful resonant voice," said Ms. Whitaker.

"He was very much beloved and a truly gracious gentleman. He was the best hospital visitor that ever was," she said. "He'd stand at the foot of the bed, say a prayer, and then left. It was perfect timing."

In 1991, Father Roulette and Father McKeachie joined four other Episcopal priests, Alvin F. Kimel Jr., Ronald S. Fisher, R. Gary Mathewes-Green and Rev. Frederick J. Ramsay, in writing what became known in 1991 as the Baltimore Declaration, a manifesto that sought the renewal of Christian orthodox principles within the Episcopal Church. The documents created considerable controversy in American theological circles.

"The essential point of our declaration is that the Christian faith, in itself or in dialogue with other faiths, cannot be honestly represented apart from the conviction that God acted in the person of Jesus, himself a Jew, to offer reconciliation and redemption of all humanity — male and female, Jew and gentile, black and white, one and all," Father McKeachie wrote in a 1991 letter to the editor of The Baltimore Sun.

"The very mission of Christianity is to transcend the divisions and ideologies of race, religion, gender and policies," he wrote. "I am charged to speak for all the authors of 'The Baltimore Declaration' in saying that our primary aim has been to call upon the Episcopal Church itself to do a better job of evangelizing its own members."

"We had become concerned about the bedrock bottom line of the Christian faith and its integrity in terms and claims of the biblically rooted doctrine of Jesus Christ," Father McKeachie said Monday.

Father Roulette had served as president of Episcopal Social Ministries and was the founding president of Paul's Place, a Southwest Baltimore soup kitchen, and was founding president of Open Gates Nurse-Managed Heath Care Center in Pigtown. He also had been on the board of Episcopal Ministries to the Aging.

He had been chair of the Fairhaven retirement community in Sykesville and a founding trustee of Buckingham's Choice assisted-living facility and retirement community in Adamstown, Pa.

He had been secretary of the old Maryland General Hospital, now the University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus, and had been on the board of Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson.

Since 2005, Father Roulette had been living at Parliament Court in Rodgers Forge. He enjoyed history and collecting antiques and art.

He was also a member and chaplain general of the Society of the Cincinnati, a hereditary Revolutionary War society whose first president was George Washington.

"Dad was the great-great-great-great-great-grandnephew of Captain Van Swearingen, who was a member of the 8th Regiment of the Pennsylvania Continental Line," said Father Roulette's son, Randolph Byrd Duval Roulette of the Woodbrook neighborhood of Baltimore County.

"Philip was also a fabulous ballroom dancer," said Ms. Whitaker.

Father Roulette was affiliated with and attended the Anglican Church of the Resurrection, 11525 Greenspring Ave., Lutherville, where funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday.

In addition to his son, Father Roulette is survived by his wife of 47 years, the former Clover Duval Puris; and four grandchildren. Another son, Carter Burwell Roulette, died in 2008.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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