Christ Church was organized in 1817 as the fourth Episcopal congregation in the portion of the District of Columbia ceded by Maryland. At that time the District of Columbia also included territory ceded by Virginia. Christ Church broke away from Saint John's Church in Georgetown whose Rector's inclinations did not match the stronger evangelical ardor of most of his congregation, including Francis Scott Key. They called Reuel Keith as their first Rector and immediately became involved in the movement which eventually resulted in the Virginia Theological Seminary at a time when the idea of a local seminary (as opposed to the General Theological Seminary in New York City) was considered radical.
Christ Church was an independent congregation in Georgetown Parish until 1875 when it became Christ Church Parish with its own metes and bounds. These were and are Rock Creek to the east, Wisconsin Avenue to the west, M Street to the south, and R Street to the north. The present church building dates from 1885 and is the third on the site, replacing earlier ones of 1818 and 1866. It is a particularly fine example of the Victorian gothic idiom and in its architecture and iconography stress the catholic traditions which are part of the Anglican identity, an emphasis important to the Rector at the time, Albert Rhett Stuart, which had not previously characterized Christ Church. Most of the founding families at Christ Church had southern Maryland associations, and a definitive southern orientation became increasingly strong during and after the Civil War.
In the second half of the 19th century the identity of Christ Church was strongly linked to the old Georgetown families who comprised the bulk of its membership. This changed steadily throughout the 20th century as the parish membership became more diverse and was drawn from throughout the Washington metropolitan area.
Currently Christ Church is a community of about 1,300 people. Sunday and weekday worship is at the center of the parish's life. A fine choral tradition strives for excellence in worship. Education for youth and adults, opportunities for spiritual growth, and community outreach also are strong parish interests.