- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The Olivet United Methodist Church congregation has planned a weekend-long celebration to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of its chapel.
The current chapel was dedicated Oct. 13, 1912, and the celebration is planned to take place exactly 100 years later.
Bob Evans, Olivet UMC lay leader, said from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12, the public is welcome to attend a “history night” where historic photographs and memorabilia will be available for viewing. The Rev. Faith Lewis, pastor of Olivet UMC, said the public can also view the church, which has a “small, intimate worship space,” a wooden bell tower and a wooden ceiling shaped similarly to a boat.
Lewis said a “birthday party” for church members only is planned for Saturday, Oct. 13.
A worship service, which the public can also attend, will be held Sunday, Oct. 14, Evans said. The Rev. Ken Bowen, who was a preacher for Olivet UMC in the 1990s, will be revisiting the church and preaching at 11 a.m. Oct. 14, Lewis said.
Lewis said the first church in Olivet was built in 1854. Prior to that chapel being built, Lewis said, the people, who called the town the “village of Olivet,” would either have to go to Dowell or Solomons to worship. Once the town had its own church built, a pastor would travel by boat from Solomons to preach in Olivet, she said.
As the community continued to grow, Lewis said, the need for a larger church was felt and parishioners decided to raise the money to expand. Lewis said “it took them years” to raise enough money to build the new chapel, which cost $3,300. She said women in the neighborhood who had chickens would sell their eggs and give some of the money to the church to help raise money.
Lewis said when she thinks about how important the church was to the people of Olivet 100 years ago, it helps her appreciate that it still serves as a connection for the community now.
“With so many of the landmarks of Olivet gone — the store isn’t there, the post office doesn’t get used — people still have the church where they connect,” Lewis said.
The church recently discovered some history about the chapel’s bell, Evans said. One church member decided he wanted to see what was in the bell tower, Evans said, and found the bell dates to 1852 and is from the ship Ferryboat Rhine.
The ship was originally on the Hudson River in New York, Evans said, and eventually made its way to the Patuxent River in the Solomons area, where it was likely used as a steamboat in the early 1900s. He said the ship was probably eventually taken apart and the bell “wound up in some fashion as the church’s bell for Olivet church.”
Evans said many people who have lived in Olivet for a long time are excited about celebrating the 100th year of the chapel.
“Especially in the earlier years after it was built … it was kind of a central focus of [Olivet],” Evans said. “Some of the people who live there are very interested … in the ways the church can be again a central focus for the community.”
Lewis said “it’s wonderful” to be a pastor for a church that holds so much history.
“You walk into that church and … you can feel the prayers of a hundred years’ worth of people,” she said. “People walk in there, and it takes their breath away because it’s so simple yet it’s holy ground. You can just feel it when you’re there.”