The Long and Storied History of Methodism in Maryland

The Methodist Episcopal Church (ME Church) has a long and storied history in Maryland, stretching back to its founding in 1772 by Reverend Joseph Pilmoor. Sent to the United States from England by John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, Pilmoor was tasked with teaching the Methodist faith. In 1966, the church convened in Baltimore with the theme “Forever Beginning”, and two years later, the ME Church, the Southern Methodist Episcopal Church, and the Methodist Protestant traditions merged to form The Methodist Church. This was followed by a merger with the Evangelical Church of the United Brethren in 1968 to create what is now known as the United Methodist Church. The first Methodist society in America was established in Frederick County, Maryland in 1764 by Robert Strawbridge.

In 1796, a judgment was passed that required all church officials to free their slaves, and lay members could only buy slaves if they and their children were freed at the end of a period of service. In 1881, Reverend Levi Coppin attempted to move the church, but was met with resistance from the elders.

Sharp Street Methodist Church

became renowned as the “Mother Church of African Methodism” in Maryland. People of African descent created the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), African Methodist Episcopal Church of Zion (AMEZ), and Christian Methodist churches (CME) from their Methodist roots, either liberated with intention or divided when white churches wouldn't allow blacks to worship with them. Baltimore's first congregations weren't segregated by race, and black members could marry in church and be buried in the cemetery. The possibility of merging two white churches and Pleasant View Methodist Episcopal Church, a black church, was mentioned as early as 1960.

On Christmas Eve 1784, Bishops Francis Asbury and Thomas Coke “brought together all the preachers and 60 pastors met at the Lovely Lane Meeting House in Baltimore to organize a church that would shape the identity of a new nation. Today, Methodism is still alive and well in Maryland. The United Methodist Church continues to be an important part of many communities throughout the state. From its humble beginnings to its current status as a major religious denomination, Methodism has played an integral role in shaping Maryland's history.

Craig Mcfarling
Craig Mcfarling

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