Brief History of Damascus United Methodist Church
Damascus United Methodist Church is proud of its long service to the Damascus area. The church traces its roots back to 1822 and our founder Benjamin Benton. Some of Mr. Benton's descendants still attend and are involved in ministry at DUMC today!
The First Church...
...was built in 1822 and was named "Mount Lebanon Methodist Episcopal Church." The name chosen for the church was most appropriate, considering it was built on the land tract "Pleasant Plains of Damascus." Services were held for 67 years in this church building.
- It served as a shelter during the Civil War for both the Union and Confederate soldiers.
- It stood on what is now called "Mullinix Mill Road" almost two miles from our present-day location
- It was probably of log construction; however, it was later weather boarded.
- Women sat on the right side of the aisle and men sat on the left.
- There was no organ. Organs were not considered proper for religious purposes in the early years of Methodism. However, singing was very much a part of the service and was unaccompanied.
- It was part of the Montgomery Circuit, which had been formed in 1788 from the Frederick Court.
The Second Church...
...was built in 1869 in the town of Damascus and was renamed the "Damascus Methodist Episcopal Church." Services were held for 30 years in that church building.
- It was destroyed by a hailstorm on June 9, 1899. Those who remember the storm say there was never another like it since then.
- This church building, which stood to the rear of the present Harwood House Thrift Shop, was a simply constructed red frame building with a center front door, center aisle and a gallery.
The Third Church...
...was built in 1899 on the same property just north of the old structure and was named the "Methodist Episcopal Church at Damascus." The cornerstone was laid on July 22, 1899. It was dedicated on January 21, 1990.
- The new church was a frame structure with two entrance doors and two aisles.
- The custom was still followed of having the men and women sit apart. Women entered the church through the right door and sat on the right side, while the men entered through the left door and sat on the left side.
- In 1932 an addition was added. The church sanctuary had become inadequate to serve the growing enrollment of the Sunday School. Also, an all-purpose room and a kitchen were very much needed. A major project of remodeling the sanctuary and adding a Sunday school wing (no basement yet) was completed in November 1932. So extensive was the remodeling that it was referred to as the "New Damascus Methodist Episcopal Church."
- In 1937 the Church's kitchen was remodeled including the addition of running water.
- On April 25, 1939 at the United Conference in Kansas City, the three great divisions of American Methodism; the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church - South, and the Methodist Protestant Church, joined together to become the Methodist Church. As a result of this merger, our church's name became the "Damascus Methodist Church."
- In 1947 and early 1948, another major building project was undertaken. The south Sunday school wing was constructed with a basement underneath. We even got indoor toilets for the first time!
- In 1951, we become a "church station" church and for the first time in our history had a full-time minister.
The Fourth Church...
...was built in 1960-61 between Woodfield Road and Mt. Vernon Ave. The groundbreaking ceremony was held May 5, 1960, the cornerstone laying ceremony was held November 27, 1960, and the church was consecrated June 4, 1961.
- The sanctuary was designed to seat 334 in the nave, 50 in the choir, and 40 in the balcony. Space was provided for eight Sunday school rooms, choir room, and pastor's study and church office.
- The age-old tradition of men and women sitting apart had long since ended and finally everyone could sit where they pleased.
- Construction was started on a new parsonage on February 17, 1967 and was completed on May 5, 1967. This parsonage (now the church office, known as the Annex) is located on Church St. next to the new brick sanctuary.
- On August 9, 1967 lightning struck the Educational Building. This was our historic sanctuary (third church). There was a serious fire that damaged the building.
- About eight months after the fire, the restored building once again began to serve the church and the community. At this time the name was changed from the Educational Building to the Damascus United Methodist Educational Center. Today this building house our current Harwood House Thrift Shop.
- Beginning April 21, 1967, in Dallas, the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church were united at the join session of the two General Conferences. As a result of this merger, our church's name became "Damascus United Methodist Church" in 1968, and continues to hold that name to the present.
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