Friday, February 23, 2018

Our History

Glenn Dale United Methodist

Glenn Dale United Methodist Church (1971-Present)

Glenn Dale United Methodist Church was formed in 1971 when the congregation of Perkins Memorial, an offshoot of Pleasant Grove Meeting House, merged with the African-American congregation of nearby Dorsey Chapel. The formation of Glenn Dale United Methodist Church brought together these tremendous legacies and birthed a multi-cultural church.

Pleasant Grove (Hyatt) Meeting House (1815-1916)

Just 31 years after the Methodist Episcopal Church was organized at Lovely Lane Chapel in Baltimore, early Methodist pioneers built Pleasant Grove Meeting House on the road to Vansville (about a mile and a half northwest of present-day Glenn Dale United Methodist Church).  The church was one of 15 churches on the Bladensburg Circuit, and Methodist circuit riders traveled by horseback and horse and buggy to preach to its congregation. Seth Hyatt was the local pastor.

At the dawn of the Civil War in 1861, the Pleasant Grove Meeting House congregation separated. Some parishioners continued worshiping there until it closed in 1916. Today, all that remains of the old meeting house is a wooded hillside with graves, some marked and some unmarked. The U.S. Department of Agriculture now owns the Pleasant Grove site.

Perkins Chapel (1861-1965)

In 1861, several families left Pleasant Grove to build a new house of worship on a donated acre of Perkins farm in the railroad town of Glennville (now Glenn Dale). Because of the shortage of supplies and manpower during the Civil War, Perkins Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church was not dedicated until 1869. Joel Brown was its first local pastor.

Between 1875 and 1895, Perkins Chapel was part of the Bladensburg Circuit. After Lanham’s Whitefield Chapel built a parsonage in 1895, Perkins Chapel shared a minister with Lanham and Bowie Methodist Church. As their congregations grew, Perkins and Bowie separated from the Lanham charge in 1945. Thirteen years later, Perkins Chapel separated from Bowie and finally became a station with its own minister.

In 1965, the congregation outgrew the one-room “church in the wildwood” and built the present brick church down the hill from Perkins Chapel. That same year the building was dedicated as Perkins Memorial. On Sept. 18, 1984, Perkins Chapel became a Designated Historic Site. Today, it is opened only for special services. Please call (301) 262-2299 for more information.

Dorsey Chapel (1880-1971)

Residents of the African-American farming community of Brookland, about 2 miles away, decided in 1880 to build a neighborhood church. Mr. Eli Harrison had been holding services in his home and at the community’s Good Samaritan Lodge Hall. The community raised money through dinners, concerts, camp meetings, and private donations, and on Sept. 16, 1900, Brookland Methodist Episcopal Church was dedicated. It became known as Dorsey Chapel after its first official pastor, Rev. A. B. Dorsey.

For more than 70 years, Dorsey Chapel was the social and religious center of the Brookland community.  At first, Dorsey was on a charge with Bowie’s Ross Methodist Church and Caroll Chapel near Central Avenue. Later Caroll was taken off the charge, and Dorsey and Ross joined a charge with Ebenezer Methodist Church in Lanham.  In 1971, Dorsey Chapel’s congregation merged with Perkins Memorial’s congregation when it could no longer support a minister.                   

Dorsey Chapel became a Designated Historic Site on Nov. 21, 1989. That same year, the Friends of Dorsey Chapel, a group made up of former members and local residents, acquired the property from Glenn Dale United Methodist Church. In 1992, the Friends of Dorsey Chapel conveyed the property to the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. The group also assisted with renovating Dorsey Chapel, which was rededicated and reopened to the public on Sept. 11, 1996. Today, it is available for tours and special occasions. For more information, please call (301) 352-5544.