From a barn to a gala, St. Mark UMC celebrates 175 years[West County]

Laurel Leader

Peter Gambrill was a free black man who owned 40 acres of land west of Ridge Road and north of where it intersects with Dorsey Road, in what is now Hanover.

“Because he [Gambrill] and his neighbors had to travel some distance to Elkridge to worship at Provident Church in 1842 they began to worship in Peter Gambrill’s barn,” said Patricia Caldwell, Archievez and History Ministry and life-long member of St. Mark United Methodist Church.

In 1844, the growing membership built a church on the land donated to them by Gambrill and his wife, Elizabeth. This place of worship became known as Gambrill’s Church and it stood at the end of Smith’s Farm Lane which led to Ridge Road. The congregation of Gambrill’s Church grew rapidly.

“The appointment of N.M. Carroll as the first stationed pastor on Nov. 1, 1864, is proof that the congregation was thriving,” Caldwell explains.

“In October of that year, the Washington Conference of Methodist Churches (a Black conference) was organized and assigned local churches to circuits. Gambrill’s Church (officially named Forest Grove Methodist Church) was one of the five on the Patapsco Circuit. For two years, Reverent Carroll had to divide his time among five churches as far apart as Annapolis Junction, Furnace Branch and Freetown.”

In his will, Gambrill left the adjoining half-acre to the Church for use as a cemetery called Saint’s Rest. With his land, Gambrill had made possible the building of a church, gave the community a burial ground and later, a black school was built on site. Thus, the birth of the congregation known today as St. Mark United Methodist Church, now on Dorsey Road in Hanover, and currently celebrating 175 years of ministering to the community.

Over the ensuing decades, the congregation purchased more land and built more buildings to house its church community, which also provided work for the locals, and an important historical legacy for all to share.

Perhaps one of the most significant moments in this church’s history occurred on March 24, 1915, when Booker T. Washington addressed the congregation in an event sponsored by the Negro Business League.

“He [Booker] emphasized the importance of higher education for both sons and daughters and told the congregation about the Farmers Bank of Baltimore which had been organized to offer loans to black farmers,” said Caldwell.

In 1957, Saint Mark United Methodist Church came off the circuit and became an independent church under the pastoral guidance of Reverend William C. Scarborough. In 1958, a parsonage was built on the Dorsey Road land and on Oct. 13, 1968, the congregation walked from their church on Ridge Road to their new brick church, and present-day location, at 1440 Dorsey Road in Hanover.

“Today, 175 years after neighbors began to worship in Peter Gambrill’s barn, the church continues to serve the communities of Harmans, Matthewstown and Dorsey where Reverend Herbert W. Watson is our current minister,” Caldwell said.

And so, on Oct. 21, St. Mark United Methodist Church will mark yet another milestone. The Official 175th Anniversary Gala, “Come Feel the Spirit and Share the Love,” will be held at 7 p.m. at the BWI Hilton Hotel, 1739 W. Nursery Road in Linthicum.

Appearing at the gala are gospel recording artists Rev. Donnie McClurkin, Rev.Beverly Crawfore, Maurette Brown-Clark and Minister Regi McClurkin. Tickets are $75 and include dinner. For additional information and/or to purchase tickets, contact St. Mark UMC at 410-859-5352 or Oyez Production Co. Inc. at 410-379-9050.

The Monarch Global Academy Laurel Public Contract School, 430 Brock Bridge Road, is hosting two open houses for perspective students: Oct.10 and Nov. 14, both at 6:30 p.m. The academy is open to students in kindergarten through eigth grade in the Fall of 2018, and who live in the Maryland City, Brock Bridge and Jessup school districts. For more information visit

Edith May’s Paradise, 7711 Apple Ave. in Jessup, is pleased to present Pristine Raeign performing on Oct. 14, at 7 p.m. BYOB and/or optional dish or treat to share. A donation of $15 is suggested at the door. For more information contact Georgie Jessup, 410-799-3755, or

Glen Burnie Elks Lodge #2266, 878 Stevenson Road in Severn, will hold its Fall Yard Sale on Oct. 14 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Spaces are $15 with table provided, $10 without. Coffee and donuts, hot dogs and soda are available.

Also on Oct.14, the Elks are sponsoring a Hoop Shoot for kids 9-13 years old.

The competition will be held at Archbishop Spalding High School, 8080 New Cut Road in Severn, at 10:30 a.m. Afterwards, there will be pizza at the Glen Burnie Elks Lodge where trophies will be awarded.

The Lodge will host its monthly all-you-can-eat breakfast on Oct. 15, from 9 to 11 a.m. Breakfast includes eggs, sausage gravy, home fries, biscuits, bacon, scrapple and more. The cost is $8.50 for adults and $4.50 for children up to 12 years old. Call the Glen Burnie Elks Lodge, 410-969-2266, for more information on all the events.

The hiking and outdoors Grace Group, from Grace Pointe Community Church of the Nazarene in Severn, invites those with a like love of riding and hiking, to join them on Oct. 14 to go horseback riding and/or hiking along the trails in Harpers Ferry, WV. Horseback riding costs $47 for a 1.5-hour ride. Exploring Historic Harpers Ferry is free; parking is $10 per vehicle.

GPCCN, 61 Gambrills Road, will host a 12-week women’s Bible-study program called, “The Quest,” beginning Oct. 15, 6 p.m. in Commons Room 122. Come explore the answers to life’s questions through scripture. For details about either event, contact

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