Three Buildings, One Church
The Past Informs Our Future
As the movement grew, a need for a permanent place of worship was needed. At the quarterly conference of the Baltimore Circuit of the Methodist Episcopal church, held at Stone Chapel Methodist Episcopal church, Wesley Chapel was born. The first Trustees were Elisha Bennett, Daniel Elliott, Samuel Gore, Robert Shipley and William Beasman, all who began their journeys as disciples of Jesus Christ, in the earlier Class Meetings. Our first meeting house was a log structure, which the members called “Antioch”, which is believed to have been located near the site of the Eldersburg Elementary school. Worship was held in this location until 1821. On July 20, 1821, Helena and John Welsh conveyed to these early Trustees one acre of land, part of a tract of their farm called Perseverance. It was on this site that the present Wesley Chapel was built.The story of Wesley Freedom is a story of pruning and growth, and at its center are people throughout the ages seeking God and God’s will for this congregation. The Civil War cast a dark shadow. Being situated at a point in Maryland where the north and south converged, there was great division among the people of Carroll County. Slave owners were invited – at gunpoint – to no longer attend Wesley Chapel. They began worshipping in an abandoned building and in 1869 constructed Freedom Church – ironically named for its location in the Freedom District. This church became a part of a new denomination, the Methodist Episcopal Church South, and was located on our current property, closest to Liberty Road and Johnsville Road.
This was a contentious and difficult time for the church. This was not a large community and these divisions pitted neighbor against neighbor. People who had worshipped together for generations were now divided. It was not until 1947 that the two churches came together as Wesley Freedom, led by their cooperating youth and young adults under the guidance of their hard-working pastor. Throughout the years, the church has persevered and grown because of its focus on God and commitment to education and community engagement.
It is this grounding in God and commitment to education and community engagement across the decades that has fueled our growth. In 1972, the church took leap of faith and added its first education wing to Freedom Church. An addition was added in 1980 and in the 1990s we broke ground for our current sanctuary and Education Wing. Once again, in 2006, more space was added through the construction of our Community Life Center and additional classrooms. While education and community engagement spurred growth, the church struggled to stay afloat with building projects. While some sought to remain the small country church of their ancestors, others had a larger-scale vision for the capacity to welcome and support the greater community.
It is this current reality in which we find ourselves. Now, instead of investing in bricks and mortar, we are investing in people. At this crossroads of our history we are returning to our Wesleyan roots, to challenge and equip people to become and live as disciples of Jesus Christ. Through all that we do and who we are, we desire to share the story of God’s grace, the same grace which moved in the lives of our ancestors, and which grows in our hearts today.