Over 200 people celebrated the 200th anniversary of Greenmount United Methodist Church on Sunday in Hampstead as the congregation's milestone coincided with Palm Sunday. Parishioners enjoyed an a hour and a half of worship including an enthusiastic sermon by Rev. Dr. Melissa Rudolph. Then they shared a meal.
"In the United States, there are around 4,000 churches that close every year. And, there are about half as many churches as there were 100 years ago," said Rudolph, Greenmount lead pastor. "So, when you consider Greenmount UMC reaching a milestone of 200 years, it is such a testimony to the endurance of faith in the God who is always doing something new."
Greenmount is part of the North Carroll Cooperative Parish, Rudolph said. Greenmount, Grace and St John United Methodist churches share the pastoral services of Rudolph and her husband, Rev. John Rudolph.
"I'm really excited to have the opportunity to celebrate as a parish on such a special day," John Rudolph said. "We're bringing together the old and the new. You don't want to forget the past, but you always want to look to the future."
According to church member Gwen Hanson, Greenmount United Methodist Church was founded as the DeHoff Meeting House. The church began with four members. They met in a log building constructed for use by people of all denominations. From 1815 to 1865, the Rev. George Scheider, a United Brethren pastor, preached at the church.
The congregation continued to grow, said Hanson, and in 1871 a brick church was built on the same spot. It was remodeled in 1905. A building fund was established in 1921 and by 1923 the parishioners raised $20,845 to build a new church.
Hanson said the original structure was torn down in 1924. The church that stands today was built in 1925. In 1946 the United Brethren in Christ and the Evangelical Churches merged to form the Evangelical United Brethren Church. Another merger occurred in 1968, resulting in the Greenmount United Methodist Church.
"What is really exciting is that the people of Greenmount - even in celebrating such a beautiful history - are always looking to where the Lord is calling us next in mission and ministry to our neighborhood and the larger community," Rudolph said.
Lynne Piper, of Finksburg, has been part of the parish since 1982, and said she enjoys the cooperative parish partnership and being part of a larger community.
"It really expands your horizons," Piper said, adding, "We've added so many friends to our congregation."
Doreen Raver, of Snydersville, said she finds incredible comfort in the church.
"It truly is like a family," she said.
Rudolph said the church's congregation welcomes everyone.
"There is just a great feeling of warmth, laughter, and joy when you come to worship and that is what makes a church endure ... being willing to open arms to greet someone who is looking for a place to grow spiritually and to be held together when feeling defeated or broken," Rudolph said.