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Gateway to the Mountains

George Wireman

Chapter 11: Thurmont Methodist Church

It has been said "to live in the past is dangerous, but to forget the past is tragic!" We cannot afford to retreat from today's world by trying to live upon the blessings of yesterday, but we should take time to remember the "spirit" and "purpose" with which our forefathers laid the foundation upon which we build our world of today.

Methodism in Thurmont had its beginning in a schoolhouse located opposite the present Methodist Church building on Church Street. It was here in the schoolhouse that the first services were held until the present church was built in 1851. The present building was erected during the pastorate of Rev. B. C. Flowers, who, together with Andrew Aefton and Tuisco Marlow, became the first trustees. The dedication sermon was preached by Rev. Henry Slicer. At this time the Methodist Church of Mechanicstown be-longed to the Frederick Circuit, but in 1856, owing to the large number of Methodist meeting places in this area, the Emmitsburg Circuit was formed. Originally, Emmitsburg and Toms Creek were a part of the Gettysburg Circuit.

Robert Strawbridge, a Methodist preacher, emigrated to America in 1767 and settled in Frederick County. He preached and was responsible for starting many societies in the area in which he lived. His influence and efforts were largely responsible for establishing the Mechanicstown district.

From the old church records we learn that on May 14, 1866, the first Quarterly Conference of the Emmitsburg Circuit of the Frederick District of the East Baltimore Conference of the Methodist Church was held at Middleburg, Maryland. Churches represented at this conference were Emmitsburg, Toms Creek, Mechanicstown, Biggs School, Wesley Chapel, Double Pipe Creek, McLanes School, Lewistown (Mt. Prospect), Brook Hill, Smithfield, and Middleburg.

On December 7, 1867, the fourth quarterly conference of the Emmitsburg Circuit was held in Emmitsburg. It was at this conference the Trustees were authorized to sell the church parsonage, which was then located in Emmitsburg, and erect a suitable parsonage on the church lot in Mechanicstown. Sometime later, a special conference meeting was held to make a final settlement for the conference year ending on the last day of February, 1869. From March 1, 1869, the circuit became known as the Mechanicstown Circuit, West Baltimore District, Baltimore Conference.

In April 1869, the quarterly conference meeting was held in Mechanicstown and the committee originally appointed to oversee the building of a parsonage on the church lot was authorized to purchase the house of Martin Rouzer, for use as a parsonage for the circuit, for the sum of $1,500.00.

From the church records we also learn that in 1875 the building of a stable and the digging of a well on the parsonage lot was accomplished at a cost of $121.65.

In 1879-79, under the leadership of Rev. W. P., West, the church was remodeled and greatly improved. The building committee in charge of these improvements consisted of Rev. W. P. West, John A. Fleagle, A. Foreman, Samuel Wilhide, Sr., Leonard Picking, George W. Stocksdale and George Lynn. Carpenters engaged in the remodeling were Joseph Weddle, Eighenbrode and Wilhide. The painting of the church was done by the Mackley brothers. On the second Sunday in April 1879, the church was reconsecrated to the service of God. The Rev. C. H. Richards officiated.

In October 1901, the "Semi-Centennial" was observed. The congregation was honored in having as their guest speaker, the Rev. G. W. Cooper, who had served as assistant pastor at the time the original church was built.

By 1908, the church membership had increased to a point where additional facilities were needed. Under the able leadership of the Rev. R. G. Koontz, a number of improvements were made. The church building itself was enlarged, a Sunday School room was added and a belfry erected.

During the pastorate of Rev. Adam E. Grim, the church felt the need for an education building and plans were drawn up and later approved. This addition, consisting of several class rooms, a social hall and a kitchen, was completed in 1949. The church sanctuary was also remodeled at the same time and rededicated with special services on September 25, 1949.

The year 1951 marked the 100th. Anniversary of the Methodist Church in Thurmont, and at the same time the community itself was planning a big celebration honoring its 200th. Anniversary.

Highlight of the community celebration was the huge Bicentennial Parade which featured many floats entered by the various business organizations and churches of the community. First prize in the Float Division was won by the Methodist Church.

The front of their float featured a replica of the church building, complete with steeple and cross. In the back of the church, suspended high on a platform, was a huge globe representing the earth. Seated around the globe were children dressed in native costumes, representing the various nations and races of the world. Their attention was focused on a minister, as he preached from his pulpit.

The sides of the float were beautifully decorated in various colors and featured a banner bearing the inscription "The World Is My Parish."

In 1955, during the pastorate of the Rev. Paul H. McCauley, the church installed a new Moller organ which was dedicated to the service of God with special services.

Under the leadership of Rev. Martin A. Case, a new entrance and vestibule were added to the front of the sanctuary. A board room and pastor's study was added to the rear of the educational building and was completed in the spring of 1966.

The Methodist Church has on several occasions been honored in having the President of the United States attend worship services on a Sunday morning. President Johnson, spending a week-end at Camp David in the Catoctin Mountains, has motored to Thurmont and joined the congregation in their Sunday worship services.

On Sunday, November 27, 1966, the Methodist Church held dedication services for a new bulletin board, erected in the front of the church. This latest addition was given in loving memory of Mr. and Mrs. William Z. Willhide, by their family and friends. Miss Ruth Willhide, a daughter, now residing in Denver, Colorado, presented the gift to Carlos Englar, lay leader of the church. Mr. Englar accepted the new bulletin board on behalf of the congregation. The Rev. Robert Braden, minister of the church conducted the service.

The Thurmont Methodist Church can well be proud of its present facilities and its many contributions to community life.

Chapter Index | Chapter 12: Mechanicstown Election Districts

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