Postcards from the Past: Church celebrates 70 years of service

December 10, 2012

After 70 years, the Ager Road United Methodist Church still serves people in the area. Photo courtesy Paula Minaert (November 2012).

BY PEGGY DEE — Congratulations to the Ager Road United Methodist Church on the occasion of its 70th anniversary!

On June 26, 1942, a group of 69 people met on a porch in the Brookside Manor neighborhood of Green Meadows to hold Sunday services. The Reverend Edgar W. Beckett of the First Methodist Church of Hyattsville on Belcrest Road presided. He continued through the summer, preaching in various homes.

That fall, a small construction office at the corner of Ager and Riggs roads was donated to the group by Mr. Sidney Lust and consecrated as its first official meeting place. Mr. Chester Craig, a local preacher, was appointed pastor in charge. The Ager Road Methodist Church was born.

With further growth and development, the church bought another plot on Ager Road in 1944 and built a small cinderblock chapel there. The church is still there today.

By 1948, the young church had a membership of 171, making it necessary to expand again. The west wing was completed in 1950.

Fern Duvall of Lancer Place moved to Hyattsville in 1953 and purchased a post-war home.  She remembers well meeting Rev. Osborne, pastor of the church, when he came to her house. The entire neighborhood was full of young families, and Rev. Osborne made a point of visiting all of them in an effort to build his congregation.

Mary Hupp, who now resides in Illinois, has happy memories dating back to 1954, when she taught Kindergarten Sunday School. She had 60 to 70 four- and five-year olds each Sunday.  At Christmas and Easter she had 85. Now those four- and five-year olds have grandchildren.

The membership had grown to over 600 people by 1955 and a new sanctuary was consecrated in 1959. Fern’s two young sons, Owen and Randy, sang in the children’s choir, which was known as the “cherub choir.” She hand-stitched the white cottas (collars) that topped off the children’s choir robes.  Being a part of the committee that catered the church’s wedding receptions was Fern’s delight. The cream puffs that she made for them were a great favorite. And the church’s annual Thanksgiving dinner, which was held the week before Thanksgiving, was popular even among non-church members.

Due to declining enrollment and many families leaving the area, the church shares a pastor with Grace United Methodist Church of Takoma Park. The Rev. Paul W. Johnson was named to the dual position in April 2011.

We wish the church many more anniversaries and salute them for their contributions to our community over these last 70 years.