Former pastor of the Westminster United Methodist Church, the Rev. John Paul Buchheister Sr.; died last Saturday of cardiac failure at age 87.
He was the pastor here in Westminster at the historic Westminster United Methodist Church from 1964 to 1971. The church — which is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year — and the Rev. Buchheister are an important part of our history and heritage in Carroll County.
According to a website history of the church, "Westminster United Methodist Church traces its beginning to 1769 when Methodist circuit riders held services in private homes in the area. Francis Asbury, who helped to form Methodism in America, preached at the Union Meeting House, formerly located a few blocks from the present church building" at the Westminster Cemetery.
As for the reverend, he was born in Baltimore, according to Baltimore Sun writer Jacques Kelly, who wrote about the Rev. Buchheister on Dec. 10. He "was the son of Harry Buchheister, a chocolate candy and taffy confectioner. He grew up on Wilkens Avenue in Violetville in Southwest Baltimore and was a 1943 graduate of Polytechnic Institute, where he was quarterback of the school's football team."
He was no stranger to Westminster when he was assigned here in 1964. He had attended the Westminster Theology Seminary after serving in the Navy during World War II.
At the time, the seminary, which dates back to 1882, was located on the campus of Western Maryland College, now McDaniel College. "The Methodist Protestant Church was instrumental in establishing Western Maryland College (1867) and Westminster Theological Seminary," according to a history of the seminary.
The Westminster Theological Seminary is now known as Wesley Theological Seminary. In 1958, the seminary left Westminster and took up residence in Washington D.C., at a new campus, and was renamed.
The present Westminster United Methodist Church was formed by Methodist Protestant and Methodist Episcopal churches in Westminster. Locally, the Centenary Church, at the corner of Main and Center streets, and the Immanuel Methodist churches merged in 1941. In 1968 the Methodist Church merged with the Evangelical United Brethren Church to form The United Methodist Church.
The Rev. Buchheister was a wonderful pastor. He was important to many of us who lived in a Westminster that is very much, at this point, a bygone era.
The late 1960s brought forth many difficult changes and challenges in our nation, and certainly here in Carroll County. Throughout this period, the reverend represented a stability that was much needed, and his influence as a community leader extended far beyond his title as spiritual leader of a local church.
For example, in the Sun obituary, Kelly noted that, "While in Carroll County, he saw a need for housing for the elderly, and began the planning for the Timber Ridge Apartments."
He led by example, thought word and deed. Many of the important things in our community, that sustain us to this day, may be traced back to the Rev. Buchheister's teachings and approaches during the 1960s.
Survivors include his wife of 61 years, the former Mary Pierrott; a son, John Paul Buchheister Jr. of Hampstead; three daughters, Mary Claire Holmes of Denton, Robin Paula Schaan of Sembach, Germany, and Annette Blair Young of Edgemere; a brother, Harry Edward Buchheister of Catonsville; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
Condolences may be sent to Mary Buchheister, 8810 Walther Blvd., Apt. 1230, Baltimore, MD 21234-5723.
When he is not re-reading the Book of Romans, Kevin Dayhoff may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.