"Over 39,000 people drive by every day," said its pastor, the Rev. Robert Hunter. "That very traffic has attracted new members to the church. People see the country church, attend services and respond to the genuine friendliness of the parish."
Attendance now averages about 50 people each week, up from 17 to 20 people when Hunter was assigned to the church in 1992 as a student pastor.
He was attending Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., at the time.
After his ordination in 1996, Hunter also became pastor of Harwood Park United Methodist Church, at Highland and Euclid avenues.
The church is the only community building in Harwood Park, near Routes 1 and 100.
The First Communion meal will be celebrated in two sittings at 6: 30 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Maundy Thursday at Wesley Chapel, 7745 Waterloo Road (Route 175).
A Good Friday service, at Wesley Chapel at 7: 30 p.m., will be based on the stations of the cross and the seven last words of Christ.
At the end of the service, all ornamentation will be stripped from the church, the lights are turned off, a quartet sings "Were You There" and the congregation leaves in silence.
Easter Sunday services will be held at 9 a.m. at Harwood Park United Methodist Church and at 11 a.m. at Wesley Chapel.
Hunter said that nationwide, more than 85 percent of United Methodist churches have fewer than 100 members.
"Some people want to feel that they are known," Hunter said, "but large or small, it makes no difference; it's where a person finds God that matters."
As old as Wesley Chapel is, when it was built, people had been worshiping at the First Baptist Church of Elkridge for 35 years.
On Christmas Day in 1843, John, Mary and Andrew Ellicott donated land to the black people of the community for a Baptist church and burial ground.
The first African-American church in Howard County, the original building predated the Civil War and served as a site on the Underground Railroad.
Church members and their relatives recall stories of visits by Mary Bethune Cookman and Booker T. Washington.
For the past 40 years, Dr. Monroe S. Simms Jr. has served as pastor.
More than 200 people came to celebrate Simms' 40 years of dedicated service and the church's 155-year history at a banquet at Martin's Champagne Room on March 28.
Simms grew up on a little hill off Race Road. On that little road, he says, "We all knew we would be somebody."
He received the Outstanding Educator's Award from the Prince George's County Public Schools and earned a doctorate in education from Nova University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Simms' first cousin, James H. Taylor, became the first Circuit Court judge to be appointed by a governor in Maryland. Taylor practices law in Lanham.
Another cousin, Milton S. Taylor, became the first black state trooper in Maryland. He had reached the rank of captain at retirement and lives in Anne Arundel County.
Many of the homes in the church community were destroyed in 1972 by floodwaters from Hurricane Agnes.
A few local parishioners remain, including the church's unofficial historian, Dorothy Richardson.
Easter services, including an Easter pageant by Youth for Christ, will be held at 10: 30 a.m. at the church, 5795 Paradise Ave., Elkridge.
Bringing it all to life
Barry Gibson has appeared on Main Street in Ellicott City as Father Christmas, Jack Frost, a leprechaun, Merlin, Minnie Pearl, Ben Franklin, Elvis Presley and Jonathan Ellicott, one of the founders of the town.
On Saturday, Gibson will stroll about at the Ellicott City Business Association's first Easter egg hunt as the Easter Bunny.
Children will hunt for eggs filled with candy; grown-ups will collect eggs filled with coupons from local merchants.
The event will be held from 10 a.m. to noon behind the log cabin at the corner of Main Street and Ellicott Mills Drive.
The association is also sponsoring a performance of "The Three Billy Goats Gruff" by the Black Cherry Puppet Theater at 1 p.m. in front of the Ellicott City B&O Railroad Station Museum on Main Street.
Both events are free. For information, call Jennifer Cooper at 410-418-9444.
Congratulations to 13 students from Elkridge Landing Middle School who won awards at the Howard County Mathematics, Science and Technology Fair, held at Long Reach High School on March 14.
Nathan Hickinbotham, Ben Miller and Adam Lawrence won society and business awards.
Jennifer Oursler, Kristina Russell, Carmen Wong, Melissa Perrelli, Bill Morgal and Cindy Thompson won blue ribbons for excellence.
Kristin Gonnus and Russ Osborn won category awards for projects in biology and chemistry.
Meghan Sullivan and David Craig won sweepstakes awards for "Most Outstanding Overall Project."
Congratulations to Elkridge Landing Middle School's eighth-grade math teacher, Kathleen Parrish, who won the Sallie Mae First Class Teacher Award 1997-1998, given by the American Association of School Administrators.
Parrish was one of two teachers in Howard County to receive the award, which recognizes outstanding first-year teachers. The other teacher was John Bertak of Hammond High School.
Out to the ballgame
The Howard County Library will present "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," a program of stories, crafts and games celebrating the baseball season.
The program, designed for children 5 and older, will be held at 1: 30 p.m. April 16 during spring break at the Elkridge branch, 6540 Washington Blvd.
Registration begins at 10 a.m. today and may be done in person or by phone. Call 410-313-5085.
Pub Date: 4/06/98