WHO WE ARE
As United Methodists, we have an obligation to bear a faithful Christian witness to Jesus Christ, the living reality at the center of the Church’s life and witness. To fulfill this obligation, we reflect critically on our biblical and theological inheritance, striving to express faithfully the witness we make in our own time.
Click here to learn more about the Basics of Our Faith.
HISTORY BEHIND WESLEY CHAPEL
The building of the Urbana church began in 1853 with the laying of the first cornerstone. Built just before the Civil War, the original frame church featured a gallery, most likely for the blacks. The church forbade membership to anyone who held slaves. The cemetery was laid out in 1855. Although no mention of a church named Ebenezer is in the circuit records, a church called Ebenezer was deeded to the African Americans after the first Wesley Chapel building was finished in 1854. Ebenezer UMC, located about 2.5 miles from Wesley Chapel UMC, is still active today. Another small property called Hope Hill was sold the African Americans in the same year. This church is also still in use. The Urbana church became part of the Frederick Circuit in 1854. The circuit was split in 1859 with Wesley Chapel becoming part of the Southern Frederick Circuit.
By 1866 the church had fallen on hard times, coming very close to a sheriff's sale. After an audit and fundraising effort, the outstanding debts were paid and the church continued. With the financial crisis averted, the leaders of the church incorporated, giving it the name Wesley Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church. Shortly after its incorporation, Wesley Chapel transferred to the Buckeystown Circuit. The Urbana Circuit formed in 1899 with Wesley Chapel, Ijamsville, and Koontz Chapel. Koontz Chapel was discontinued in 1933. Flint Hill joined the Urbana Charge in 1952. Although it is not clear when Araby Methodist Church joined the Charge, both Flint Hill and Araby left the charge in 1976 (1977). Wesley Chapel remained in the Urbana Charge with Ijamsville until August 1, 1999 when both churches received their own part-time pastor and were formally split apart as two part time charges. In 2007 Wesley Chapel became a station church with it’s own full time minister.
Methodism flourished in the first half of the nineteenth century and Wesley Chapel seemed to be no exception. The Wesley Chapel Sunday School Class was said to be the largest in Frederick County circa 1870. The Rev. W.H. Reed reported a 3-day "woods meeting" held at Urbana during the fall of 1870, resulting in the "conversion of forty souls." In the forties, young adult classes were quite popular and well attended. The Sunday School continues to be a part of Wesley Chapel even today.
The present brick sanctuary was completed in 1895 with Mary Rosailia Kidd and Charles Dudderar being the first couple to be married here in 1899. In 1900, the Quarterly Conference voted to build a parsonage on the lot adjacent to the church. Building and change has been common at Wesley Chapel. In 1919, the church and parsonage were electrified at a cost of $500.00, no small amount in those days!. The church was closed briefly for remodeling in 1911. In 1933, Bennet Creek Chapel, once part of the Montgomery Circuit, was donated to Wesley Chapel for use as a Parish Hall. This frame building was dismantled and reconstructed adjacent to the church. Stained glass windows gave new beauty to the sanctuary in the late 1940s. An altar recess of 6 x 16 feet was added to the rear of the chancel in 1955. New pews and altar furniture completed that remodeling effort. The present brick Parish Hall replaced the old frame building in 1963 and was connected to the church through a window opening. Air-conditioning units were installed in the sanctuary in 1987 and the Parish Hall in the fall of 1999. The sanctuary was painted pink for the first time in 1988 and again in 1999. The sanctuary was painted off white in about 2005. The people are very proud of their buildings and maintenance is a high priority.
The pride in their building has not led to a building idolatry. While protective, the members of Wesley Chapel have opened their facilities to many groups over the years. The church has sponsored both Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops at various times. The church has also hosted the Urbana 4-H Clubs for numerous years. The Lion's Club and Maryland Draft Horse & Mule Association meet monthly in the Hall. Because its Hall is the largest of the sixteen cluster churches, Wesley Chapel also has hosted the cluster youth group for many years. St. Ignatius of Loyola Catholic Church used to make use of the Hall for their confirmation and education classes prior to the opening of their new church off of route 80 about 4 miles east of Urbana.
Our memories of the program of the church do not come easily. The Lord's Acre Festival began around 1960 and continued until the mid 1970s when the Urbana Charge began to grow apart. This event combined mission and fellowship, for the donation of the profits from the Lord's Acre were accompanied by a parade with floats and a fellowship festival. The first Advent Workshop was held in 1978, resulting in Chrismons for a Chrismon tree, decorated in worship. In 1980, the Church invited local retired persons to a luncheon called The Day of Jubilee. Along with a Epiphany each January, various mission collections are important events in the life of Wesley Chapel. We have had a valued working relationship with St. Ignatius of Loyola Catholic Parish over the years. For quite a few summers, we have hosted a cooperative, community Vacation Bible School spearheaded and funded by St. Ignatius. Our program has been influenced by many pastors over the years. We are always open to trying new worship ideas and ministry plans. We have kept those we like and discarded those we didn't!
The old village of Urbana is a historical place, dotted with old homes and tradition. Recently, one of the historic homes called the Landon House became a Civil War Museum. However, in today's world, museums do not give definition to a community. Urbana residents have been pushing to restore their "identity" by opening a Post Office. Urbana's first Post Office was moved to Ijamsville in 1911. Members living within four miles of the church live in five different zip codes. The Volunteer Fire Department was organized in the early 1970s and has become a focal point for the community. As a part of the community, Wesley Chapel participates in the Fireman's Carnival running the Funnel Cake Stand! Members have always been active in the Fire Company and we have gained a member or two because of our mutual association.
Another event is impacting the old village with the guarantee of more drastic change is the homes and families brought through the development of the Villages of Urbana, a new exurban community. Over three thousand housing units have been built and limited shopping areas have opened in the Villages of Urbana town center along with a library. A major piece of this development lies directly behind Wesley Chapel. A new history is on the way. Change is inevitable. Wesley Chapel has seen change and sometimes welcomed it. The task of the leadership today is to help the people embrace change, each other, and the new community for prosperity and vital ministry. We are in God's ministry to transform lives in discipleship to Jesus Christ!
We organize various activities throughout the calendar year. See our Church Calendar below
Weekly Prayer Concerns
Each week our church bulletin lists members and friends that need our prayers.
Our Church organizes various events, from Christmas celebrations, Especially our Live Nativity held behind the Urbana Fire Hall to Easter festivities and Thanksgiving prayers.
Bible Study groups
Our Bible study groups meet on Monday and Thursday mornings, so you can choose which one suits your life the best. Call: 301-663-4956 to ask for info.
"If you lose faith, you lose all."