Towson United Methodist Church is a large United Methodist church located in the historic Hampton subdivision of Towson, a suburb of Baltimore County, Maryland. Its history is closely intertwined with the political and sociological trends of the United States, from the 19th century to the present day. In 1861, on the eve of the American Civil War, it was a divided congregation in a border state of divided loyalties. After World War II, it experienced a period of reconciliation and rapid growth of major Protestant denominations, especially in the more prosperous suburbs.
This was when the two churches in Towson merged to form the Towson United Methodist Church. The merger in 1939 of the Methodist Episcopal (ME) and Methodist Protestant (MP) denominations in the United States led to the renaming of the Methodist Episcopal and Methodist Protestant churches in Towson as First Methodist Church and Second Methodist Church, respectively. The faction in favor of giving ecclesiastical authority to a hierarchy of bishops called itself the Methodist Episcopal Church and adopted a stance against slavery in the north. This was followed by the construction of a church building for the Towson United Methodist Church in 1952. Located in the heart of Towson, near the County Circuit Courthouse, the Towson Methodist Protestant Church was built in stone with a slate roof and steeple.
However, the eighty-seven members of the United Methodist Church soon ran into financial difficulties, as they borrowed heavily to build their new sanctuary. The chairman of the church's construction committee had advanced his personal funds to complete the construction and was subsequently involved in years of litigation with the church. It was later abandoned and finally demolished in 1952 to make way for the construction of a parking lot for the former Hutzler's department stores, near the current Macy's department stores and the Towson Town Center shopping center. In the lobby of the current building there is an illuminated screen of the stained glass windows of the old church. Ransom was chief minister of the First Methodist Church of Towson at the time of its merger with Second Methodist Church in 1952 and later prime minister during its construction and first decade.
Miller continued his graduate studies while ministering at Union Chapel United Methodist Church in Joppa, Maryland, and received his doctorate in ecclesiastical revitalization at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago in 1992. Over the years, members of Towson United Methodist Church have supported Meals on Wheels, League of Women Voters and Head Start as volunteers at local hospitals and at Maryland School for Blind. The church also sponsors missions abroad, Susanna Wesley House for single mothers, and is actively involved in Habitat for Humanity projects. After World War II ended in 1945, attendance at major Protestant churches increased significantly across America. Cooney was chief minister at Eppworth United Methodist Church in Cockeysville, Maryland prior to his appointment to Towson United Methodist Church. He and his wife Sandi (also an ordained minister) have led mission teams to several nations including Russia, Kenya and Honduras.
He was Towson's Methodist pastor from 1995 to 2001 when he went to England to preach at American Church in London and appeared as a frequent commentator on BBC. The beliefs held by members of Towson United Methodist Church are rooted in those held by Methodists before Civil War. The movement grew rapidly before this time but was beset by disputes over slave ownership and church government by bishops which led to formal division into two groups in 1844. Towson United Methodist Church has been an integral part of American history since its inception. From its humble beginnings as two separate churches during a time of great division within our nation to its current status as an active participant in local community service projects, this church has been an example for others to follow. Its members have been dedicated to providing spiritual guidance while also engaging with their local community through volunteerism and mission trips abroad.
As we look back on its history we can see how it has been shaped by both national events as well as local trends.