Rev. Ellen Hurwitz first received her personal call to the priesthood in 1980, at a time when women priests were controversial. Her path to COTT has been an inspiring journey.
Ellen was born in Maryland and grew up in Frederick in a Jewish family. After graduating from Thomas Johnson High School, she attended Reed College in Portland, OR where she converted to Christianity in 1970. After graduating with a B.A. in Religion, she went to Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, MA focusing on Jewish/Christian studies, graduating in 1982 with an M.Div. degree. While pursuing her ordination she worked as a Hospital Chaplain Intern in Ann Arbor, MI and in group homes with the elderly and people with mental illness. Ellen was ordained to the deaconate in 1986 and then to the priesthood in 1987 in Rochester, NY.
Rev. Hurwitz worked as the Interim Priest in Allegany Co., NY, traveling among a 5 church cluster. She was their first woman priest. She then worked as the Executive Director of the Visitor Center at Attica Correctional Facility in Attica, NY where she managed an ecumenical ministry to help the families of inmates and serving 23,000 visitors each year. Ellen moved back to Maryland in 1992 to be closer to her family. She was Vicar at St. Ann's Episcopal Church in Smithsburg and Case Manager at St. John's Shelter for Homeless Families (Hagerstown). She also was President of the Washington Co. Task Force on Homelessness for several years.
In 1998 Ellen suffered an increase in mental and physical distress making it difficult to work on a full time basis. At this time she began coming to COTT as a parishioner and gradually took a more active priestly role. Rev. Hurwitz continues her work with the homeless at the Frederick Cold Weather Shelter and the new Emergency Family Shelter with the Religious Coalition. Ellen's non-professional interests include attending science fiction conventions, figure skating competitions, and spending two weeks each summer at "Common Ground on the Hill" in Westminster, MD which celebrates cultural diversity through the arts, education, and Celtic music!
The Reverend Dr. Gordon J. De La Vars, Rector
A native of Ohio, Fr. Gordon grew up in the greater Cleveland area. His parents (deceased) were both veterans of World War II, his father afterward maintaining a photographic business in hometown Elyria for over forty years. Fr. Gordon received a bachelor’s degree from Kent State University and a master’s from The University of Akron. After completing his doctoral work at Ohio State University in 1985, he taught university-level English at several schools, prior to entering Bexley Hall Seminary in Rochester, New York. He graduated from the seminary, and was ordained a priest, in 1998.
After a short time as associate rector of a church in the Buffalo, New York area, Fr. Gordon was called in 1999 to be rector of St. Paul’s Church in Mayville, New York, where he also served as chaplain and spiritual director for the Episcopal community of nearby Chautauqua Institution. He remained as rector of St. Paul’s for thirteen years before being called to Transfiguration in 2012.
Fr. Gordon’s family in Ohio includes his sister Marie, his stepmother Karen and her family, along with his cousin Marlene and her family. He also has cousins in California where his mother was born and raised. He enjoys walking, reading (mostly non-fiction), movies, classical music, and sampling with friends all the great restaurants in the Frederick area! A student of the Civil War, Fr. Gordon is pleased to have come to Maryland where so much history of that period took place. He has also recently taken up again landscape painting, after a long time away from his art.
Meet Our Staff
The Church of the Transfiguration
Braddock Heights, MD
Rooted in Christ
Bound in Love
Called to Ministry
Bookkeeper - Molly Wilson
Office Administrator - Bill Hillringhouse
Rev. Ellen Hurwitz, Priest Associate
Minister of Music & Organist - Truuke Ameigh