- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Long family histories coincide with Shiloh Community United Methodist Church’s long history.
Begun in 1863 by a group of Christians worshipping in different houses, Shiloh church is celebrating 150 years of dedication to Christ this weekend.
The anniversary celebration will begin at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Bel Alton High School Alumni Center with a praise and awards ceremony.
A worship and church rededication service will be held at 11 a.m. Sunday at the church at 12705 Shiloh Church Road in Newburg.
Family connections have kept Shiloh church together and growing for many years, Yvette Waugh, 50, said.
“We’re still a small church,” Waugh said. “But we’re a steady church, I’ll say.”
Waugh lives in Fort Washington but comes back to Shiloh every Sunday, and even a few times during the week.
“This is my home, my family’s church,” Waugh said. “Long family history, all of the family history is from this church.”
Even while attending college, Waugh came back to Shiloh whenever she could. After college she began working and tried to find a church closer to where she lived but she noticed a difference.
She could receive good spiritual messages at other churches, but the closeness and family connection were not there for her. Very few members of Shiloh’s congregation are not biologically related to Waugh, but she said everyone is related spiritually.
Waugh said that Sunday’s event is an opportunity for churchmembers to rededicate themselves and the church to Christ.
Shiloh’s first building was near the church’s cemetery and was destroyed by fire. The second church was built in 1885 and used until 1966 when the current building was constructed. The church also has gone through some name changes: Shiloh Methodist Episcopal Church then Shiloh United Methodist Church then Shiloh Community United Methodist Church. Another Shiloh United Methodist is in Bryans Road.
Shiloh Community United Methodist is the first pastoral assignment for the Rev. Marvin R. Wamble, who came to the church in 2007. He is working on his master’s of divinity at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. He also serves as pastor of Shiloh’s sister church, St. Matthew’s United Methodist in La Plata.
“I think that the anniversary celebration is really important,” said Wamble, who lives in Fort Washington. “It shows what the church has meant to the community over the years.”
Wamble said that this weekend’s celebration is “a once-in-a-lifetime celebration” because most of its current members will not be around for the 200th anniversary. So much national history goes along with the church’s history because the church began in the days just after the Emancipation Proclamation.
Wamble added that the church has served as a community center, a worship center and a child care provider during its history. Waugh said Head Start for Newburg was held at Shiloh for five years at one point.
The church has had 35 pastors, including one woman, the Rev. Dr. Willie Mae Parker from 1984 to 1990.
Irene Estella Hill Harris was born and raised in the area. As an adult, she lived and worked in Washington, D.C. She came home to Shiloh on weekends.
Harris is the ninth of her parents’ 11 children and the last living. Her older sister, Rebecca Meredith, attended Shiloh until her death in 2009 at age 90. Their parents were raised in the area near the church, and they walked to church every Sunday with their children.
“I better come to church [when I was young],” Harris said.
Donald Hall, 78, was on the committee to build the church’s current building in 1966 for $50,000. He was married at Shiloh in 1959.
Shiloh offers an annual homecoming event for family and former members, as well as contemporary events such as comedy and jazz performances, and poetry nights.
“There are various ministries where people can come and learn to express themselves and enjoy themselves,” Waugh said.
In 2003, Shiloh’s 1885 church building, 1895 parsonage, 1904 rectory, 1965 church and annex, the Tolson house, and the church’s cemetery were preserved by being added to the Maryland’s Inventory of Historic Properties.