“It All Started on a Front Porch,” a history written by Bill Allman

Our church has its origins in the summer and fall of the year 1914 (the exact dates are not recorded).

In the Woodmont Triangle, where the Old Georgetown Road splits off from the Rockville Pike, residential development had begun in 1892 with the arrival of a streetcar line from Washington. Twenty years later, however, the nearest Methodist churches were in Rockville, Tennallytown, and, new in 1912, Chevy Chase.

Methodist activities in the Triangle began in 1914, when six young people met as a Sunday school on the porch of the John S. Coombs residence on Fairmont Avenue. Not long after, they moved across the street to a tent that had been raised on a vacant lot for Sunday evening meetings. Offered as a mission program of the Rockville Methodist Episcopal Church South, the meetings were led by Rev. Frank Richardson, assisted by one of his Rockville parishioners, Gaither Warfield, a rising sophomore at Dickinson College, who was licensed by the church as an “exhorter” in 1914 (becoming a “local preacher” in 1915).

In the fall of 1914, some of the men of this “Woodmont Mission” built a one-room structure on “borrowed ground,” and it was provided with a platform, pulpit desk, carpet, and about forty chairs (sixty more on loan). In a December report, there were only thirteen members, including two of the front-porch youngsters, but seventy-five people were attending, mostly members of the Methodist Episcopal Church North (see note). Although an independent Bethesda church was not established until 1916, the origins in 1914 have been the starting point for celebrations of 50 years, 75 years, and now 100 hundred years.

Read more in the comprehensive history PDF below:

BUMC History, presented by Bill Allman