But First, The Church Beginnings ...



The Church from which Wesley Grove United Methodist Church originated stemmed from an earlier Sunday school which met across the road from the present church building. In some old records of the Baltimore Conference of the Methodist Church it was noted that as far back as 1875, C. J. Burdette and Charles W. Browning were considering the organization of a Sunday school in the Woodfield community. These two men, with Singleton L. King, consulted with another resident of the community, "Brother" F. B. Day. As a result of these consultations, it was decided to establish a Sunday school. Known as the Sunday School Society of Chestnut Grove, it took its name from the large grove of chestnut trees in which it met when weather permitted. The name was later changed to the Wesley Grove Sabbath School and there still exists a banner, dated 1878, with this name. A formal constitution was approved on June 1, 1879, by its 36 members. Not only were Sunday school sessions held in the grove, but many preaching services as well.


In the Spring of 1880, Singleton L. King donated a piece of land, across the road from the open air Sunday school, on which to build a church. The location chosen was the same site as the present church. This first building was a small, very plain structure. It looked much like the small one room schools of that time (See Cover). Old records of the nineteenth century show that the Methodist Conference insisted that all Methodist churches be plain but neat and not expensive. They expected the congregations to build only what they could afford. The original Wesley Grove Church was heated by a wood stove, the fuel being donated by various members. Lighting was provided by kerosene lamps.


In 1909, as the congregation grew, it was decided to build a new church building in the site.


When completed, the new church building consisted of just two rooms - the main sanctuary and the Sunday school room divided by large wooden doors. It was equipped with a modern heating system (for that day), acetylene lights, and had beautiful stained glass windows donated by various groups and individuals in the church. It was furnished with the same solid oak pews and handsome pulpit and chairs that are still in use today.


Dedication ceremonies were held on Sunday, November 27, 1910, with Rev. C. M. Levister, Editor of the "Baltimore Methodist" newspaper, preaching at the morning service. The District Superintendent, Dr. John W. R. Sumwalt, had charge of the finances at the morning service and in the afternoon, preached and formally dedicated the new building.




Historical Timeline ...


Year Event
   
1909 A building committee consisting of Singleton L. Ling, David Ward, James R. King, J. Bradley Hawkins, Charles Ward, James Burdette, Eli G. Ward and John Burdette was appointed. They proceeded to work toward a new building using plans provided by the Methodist Conference.
1910 Steps were taken to incorporate the church as Wesley Grove Methodist Episcopal Church. This took place on February 14, 1910, and was recorded in Liber EPB No 1 Folio 448,of the Corporation Records of Montgomery County, Maryland, and was examined by John L. Burdette, clerk, and Frank Higgins, Attorney-at-Law.
1910 Building construction began, mostly by volunteers. Needed materials were supplied by local farms and buildiing companies. The corner stone of the new building was put in place on May 28, 1910.

When the building was almost completed, it was realized that there was not enough money to buy a bell for the steeple. Mr. Tobias Thompson, who was not a church member at that time but was proud of such a fine building in the community, became interested and soon collected enough money to buy a fine 716 pound bell, costing $212.50. It was shipped by rail freight to the Mount Airy railroad station and brought from there to Woodfield.

Dedication ceremonies were held on Sunday, November 27, 1910, with Rev. C. M. Levister, Editor of the "Baltimore Methodist" newspaper, preaching at the morning service. The District Superintendent, Dr. John W. R. Sumwalt, had charge of the finances at the morning service and in the afternoon, preached and formally dedicated the new building.
1924 The charge was divided with Damascus and Salem (Cedar Grove) forming the Damascus circuit, and Wesley Grove, Mt. Tabor (Etchison) and St. Paul (Laytonsville) forming the Laytonsville charge. (All three churches shared the expense for maintenance and furnishing the Laytonsville parsonage. With only three churches in the charge it was now possible, for the first time, to have services every Sunday in each church.)
1939 The United Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church South, and the Methodist Protestant Church, the three denominations agreed to unite to form the Methodist Church. As a result, Wesley Grove Methodist Episcopal Church became the Wesley Grove Methodist Church.
1948 An addition was made to the church building. This consisted of the large room next to the old Sunday school room, a well, septic tank and modern plumbing. The exterior of the addition was faced with brick, leaving the old part still with frame siding.
1957 The remaining part of the church was brick veneered and the exterior was painted. The interior of the sanctuary was dry walled as was the old Sunday school room. Linoleum covering was laid over the entire floor and carpet was placed in the aisles and in the pulpit area. The choir loft was also renovated. This same year, the corner stone was reset and new documents were placed in it, in a copper container, as the original papers had decomposed because of moisture.
1958 1.3 acres of land were purchased, beside the Hall, from Hubert Yinger. This was part of the former Franklin King (son of Singleton King) farm. Chairman of the building committee, at this time, was Harrison King. Jack Sumner was chairman of the Official Board, Benjamin Mark was the minister, and Asbury Smith was the District Superintendent.
1959 Wesley Grove left the three church charge and became a station church on its own. Lawrence H. Mason, a seminary student, was assigned as student minister. While at Wesley Grove, he was ordained and thus became the first full time pastor.

There was a need, now, for a parsonage. Accordingly, the Official Board approved construction of a parsonage on part of the 1.3 acres of land bought in 1958. The builder was John Haines of Damascus. The first family to occupy the new parsonage was Rev. Lawrence H. Mason, his wife Joyce, and their two daughters.
1966 In 1966, and again in 1968, additional one acre plots of land were purchased from Mr. Yinger as a site for a possible new church. This area is now used for recreational activities.
1969 After the Methodist Church united with the Evangelical United Brethren Church, Wesley Grove became the Wesley Grove United Methodist Church.
1973 The interior of the sanctuary was repainted a color to complement the gold in the stained glass windows. The pulpit was moved to one side so that the altar and the cross became more predominent. It was backed with a beautiful gold colored docile cloth. The communion table, forming the altar, was the same one made by Mr. Day and donated to the church in 1910. Additional pews, purchased from the Catholic Church in Damascus, were placed at the back of the old Sunday school room, replacing folding chairs.
1976 Additional improvements were made in1976-77, when the entire church was carpeted and heavy, protective glass, storm windows were installed over all of the stained glass windows. At this same time, storm windows were also installed over all other windows in the church building. The driveways at the hall and parsonage were also paved at this time.
2004 After many years of wear and tear on the church steeple, renovations were very necessary. A group of church members, led by Merhle Staley, Jim Kemp and Rick Monarch, began this work. The steeple rennovations were made, and the original church bell was re-installed.
2009 Wesley Grove UMC certfied as Welcoming Congregation by the United Methodist Church's Igniting Ministry. This mark of recognition is earned each year through efforts of a local congregation to prepare actively and intentionally to receive newcomers. WGUMC met the requirements of such a church with thier welcoming fellowship as well as a long-standing and valued part of the community.



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Audio Church Hymns (early century) on Piano...
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1910 County Happenings (1910 or so) ...
The Way things Were in 1910...





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