Frostburg United Methodist Church
Provided by Amy Meek
Frostburg United Methodist Church Congregation ended it’s 175th year of existence in the fall of 2010. This pioneer church organization of the town, (according to Scharf’s History) was the first in Frostburg to build a “church” building rather than a meeting house or school house. The congregation continues with three buildings on the same plot of ground at 48 West Main Street, sold by Isaiah and Sarah Neff Frost—1/4 acre for $ 100. The Frosts also supplied land for a cemetery, which became Percy Cemetery. The first church was small and built of stone. It had a half-circle moon at the top front for a window and a small steeple. By 1842, First Methodist Episcopal Church, on the former Allegany Circuit, became the head church of the Frostburg Circuit with thirteen other meeting places.
Early pioneers and settlers in the area remarked that they were trying to get away from the traveling preachers but, lo and behold, there was already a preacher to greet them when they arrived at their new abode.
Francis Asbury, famous Methodist Circuit Rider, came in 1782, to Joseph Cresap’s home along the Potomac, to preach and greet, and, in a later year, to bless the new church building there. Asbury met Colonel Samuel Barrett there who brought him up the Braddock Trail to the later Frostburg area, to preach to a few Christians at Barrett’s cabin.
Asbury, in 1794, met William Shaw, also at Cresaptown and appointed him as a local preacher to marry and baptize. Shaw settled near Swanton Mine (Barton) and preached there, up and down the George’s Creek, and at the Neff Meeting House at Wrights Crossing. John Neff had built this meeting house before 1808. In that meeting house, in 1808, the record says that he preformed the wedding ceremonies for his two Methodist Neff sisters who married two Wright men.
When the National Pike was about to be opened in 1818, Frostburgers came to Frostburg to worship and used the meeting house or school house behind the former German Luthern Church, now Zion United Church of Christ. The Neff Meeting House was moved from Wright’s Crossing, log by log, to Klondike to become the Woodland Methodist Church in 1823.
John Neff, brother-in-law to Isaiah Frost, was a trustee of the small stone Methodist Church and also, for the two Later church buildings. The little church and congregation was called “Frostburg on the Pike.” The membership grew so large that by 1856, a new building was needed. A larger, frame church was built. When another increase was needed in the 1870’s, that frame building was sold to Keyser—New Creek, and can still be seen there on the square, used as an office building or apartments. The present “Good Cumberland” red brick building with a 167 foot tower and spire was erected in 1871. Then the depression of 1880-90 hit, requiring several members to mortgage their own homes to help pay for the lovely Gothic structure—costing $ 42,236.62. The membership of 275 increased over the years until the year 1979 revealed 1000 members.
This church has undergone several renovations. Gas lights became electric. Furnaces were installed. In 1907 a new Esty electric pipe organ replaced the little pump organ. The new Esty was given from Andrew Carnegie Funds. Stained glass windows were placed in the sanctuary, and in 1925 stained glass windows were installed in the first floor Sunday-School rooms.
The choir was excellent with Arthur Thomas as director and Mabel Myers as organist for over fifty years. She lived to be 100 years old.
The Education Building was erected in 1954-55 under the direction of Reverend John Bailey Jones, who came from the faculty of Western Maryland College to be our pastor from 1949-55. He returned, after retirement, to live in Frostburg from 1976-1999. He considered this his “home town”, having studied at Frostburg State Teachers College during the late 1930’s. He too, lived to be almost 100.
Rev. Harold Bell Wright reorganized the staff offices and was influential in getting furniture and lighting for the downstairs Epworth Chapel. A new Mohler organ was also bought and installed in the sanctuary under his leadership in 1965-66. Rev Wright served as Baltimore-Washington Conference secretary while at Frostburg, traveling many times and miles to Baltimore or Washington for meetings.
The church name was changed several times: First Methodist Episcopal Church, Frostburg Methodist Church, and Frostburg United Methodist Church in 1969, when the General Conference of Methodist Churches united with the Evangelical United Brethrens. The John Wesley Black Church had united with this church in 1968—being the first churches in the Baltimore-Washington Conference to unite—abolishing the “Central Conference of Black Churches.
Rev. Tom Kaylor introduced the Camp Hope Program in the 1970’s encouraging teenagers from all over the Conference and some from as far as New York, to help repair needy people’s homes in our area. The sanctuary was redecorated under his ministry, costing about $ 50,000. Rev Kaylor was also the leader in organizing the community to build Frostburg Village Nursing Home. Kaylor Circle at that establishment in named in his honor.
Rev. Dick McCullough, with his wife, Jill, in 1991, helped set up the Bridge After-School Child Care Program. Ms. Leticia Shelton has been head administrator for over 20 years.
In 1998 the church steeple was rebuilt and new chimes together cost about $ 50,000.
The year 2004 ushered in a new experience for the church with a woman pastor from Texas. Extensive restoration to the sanctuary occurred at this time. After 6 ½ years of preaching and administering to the membership needs. Pastor Rebecca Vardiman moved to another level of service in God’s Kingdom—that of chaplain at the new Western Maryland Heath System in Cumberland. The church has now accepted a retired ‘interim’ Pastor, Rev. Gary W. Trail, until July 1, 2011.
The Jones Center House is now the new home of the Frostburg Food Pantry in 2010, and the new parking lot blacktop was donated by the Weimer Family in memory of their Mother, Marlene, who had served as a Methodist Youth Counselor.
The Frostburg United Methodist Church invites you to visit with us any Sunday or welcome you to join with us on your FAITH JOURNEY.
Our God speaks to us across 175 years of Methodism in Frostburg.
“When people panic and melt away, I will still uphold the order of the world---
Psalm 75:3 (Moffett Translation)