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Lanham United Methodist Church

How Lanham United Methodist Church began:




We at Lanham United Methodist Church have a rich heritage and our roots go deep into the history of this region. We enjoy today a church almost 150 years old and a community built by Christians working together and serving God. The area was covered by forests and roamed by the Conestoga Indians. Then came the settlers who began small settlements. Later the Baltimore, Annapolis and Washington Railroad was built. We became a lumber center and many of the first roads in the area were made by logs being dragged to the saw mills.

George Whitefield, a friend of the Wesleys, came through this area in 1744, more than thirty years before the Declaration of Independence. There were many Methodists here at that time. We know from circuit records that prior to 1830 members were meeting in homes; then they met in McGregors' School-house which still stands beside the site of our present Church. It is the home of the Trueman Haskell's. When Whitfield Road was widened, the house was moved back and turned so it would face Whitfield Road instead of Stevens Lane. Perhaps some day we can acquire this property which is the site of the founding of Lanham Church.

In December 1830 Trueman and Mary Lanham gave a piece of ground for the building of a place of worship. The land donated is now our cemetery.

On the 3/4 acre of ground given by the Lanhams, the original Church was built in 1837. The entrance was flanked by two cedar trees --supposedly those still in our cemetery. Here, both white and black members worshiped on Sundays. Ours remained a small Church as did the Bladensburg Circuit of which we were a part. In 1864 records show 140 black members, 97 white members, and 50 probationers. The minister's salary was $600.

The second church building, a frame structure, was built in 1881-1882 and was dedicated in 1885. The old structure was sold to the Negro Methodist congregation for $1. This building was moved down the road and remained in use until 1976 as the Ebenezer Methodist Church. The membership at Lanham in 1885 was 25 persons.

Land where the present parking lot is was given by Mr. E.C. Stevens and a parsonage was built in 1889. More land was donated in 1891 by Mrs. Sarah Howser. This land is now part of the cemetery along Howser Lane.

In 1918 the old building which was remodeled in 1906 was beyond repair and a new one much needed. Pledges were taken to cover the cost but many did not materialize, so some members mortgaged their homes to raise the funds. Services were held in a tent until the new building was completed. The total cost was $21,000. The congregation numbered 75. This was our first brick church. The corner stone was laid in 1921 and has the dates of the three buildings on or near the site. A metal box containing the names of the dedicated contributors is sealed within the granite block. Our fine organ was acquired in 1945.