From Calvary Church:
In a current day classic battle of David against Goliath, the Baltimore Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church has filed suit against a small congregation and historic treasure, Calvary Church (circa 1821) in the Circuit Court of Harford County. The powerful and avaricious Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church is trying to strip this small historic church from the hands of its congregation, as it does to many other churches, most of which just give up in defeat, each year. The common self-serving practice of the Conference is to forcibly use all possible UMC rules and legal maneuvers to rip churches from the hands of local congregations in order to sell the properties. Congregations, whose members and families have loved, trusted, guided and supported their church for hundreds of years are disregarded and destroyed in the process. Money is the ultimate goal and guiding principle of the Conference, not the religious tenets they espouse.
Since the Spring of 2014, Calvary Church has resisted the greed of the Conference to destroy it. Without any fair and open discourse, the congregation was unilaterally informed by the Conference that their church was being discontinued. This is the mechanism used by the Conference to take property from the congregation, which for many years the Conference did not financially support, did not provide an ordained Methodist minister and respected leadership, did not guide or participate in church activities. The Conference did nothing for the church. The Conference has no equitable stake in the church. The church was its people, its congregants, its community. As it has for almost two hundred years, Calvary Church has continued to operate, provide church and community services, maintain its cemetery and historic structures and charitably support the local needs in Harford County. The church members continued to financially cover all costs, bills continued to be paid, insurance paid, extensive repairs made (always a factor in a 195 year old building with a large historic and active cemetery) cemetery maintained including ongoing funerals, as well as complying with all required licenses and certifications.
There was virtually no contact from the Baltimore –Washington Conference for almost a year and a half until the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church filed suit against Calvary Church’s Trustees stating that they own the building and all the assets (money, property and land) and demanded it be turned over to them immediately so they can exercise their right “to dispose of all such property”.
The Church was inventoried and recorded as a historical site HA-997 in May of 1969 in the Maryland Inventory of Historic Places. In 2010, Harford County Government designated it as a Harford County Landmark, thus giving it special protection under the law. In complete and utter disregard of the churchgoers and communities, the United Methodists are closing thousands of local churches across the country and selling the properties to supplement their income as a result of declining Methodist enrollment. The United Methodists financially benefited from local churches that paid annual stipends, but now, the significant property values tempt its leaders to fill the coffers of the UMC. Instead of promoting its good Christian heritage, beliefs and qualities, the Conference of the United Methodists marches on to destroy its honest and hardworking members in order to keep its leaders in the riches of the privileged.
Calvary Church, a small country family church, has humbly and faithfully served the residents of Harford County since it was built by hand in 1821 by the Richard Webster family, neighbors and two veterans of the War of 1812 out of the nearby quarry. It is protected by the State of Maryland as well as Harford County as it one of the few surviving examples of early places of worship in America. It is thought to be the oldest, continuously operating, originally Methodist church in Maryland and perhaps the mid-Atlantic area and remains virtually unchanged. In 195 years the church itself has hosted many famous ministers and orators of their time. The church has had 159 ministers which include veterans of every war, including the War of 1812; both sides of the Civil War; Chaplin’s for the State Police, Walter Reed, and National Guard (including rank of Brigadier General), Clerk for the Maryland House of Delegates, Clerk for Circuit Court, Methodist Bishops, U.S. State’s Attorney, Chaplin for the United States Senate and many, many more. The cemetery is the final resting place for many prominent citizens, veterans from every war, including the War of 1812, having earned combat medals including Distinguished Flying Crosses, Star Silver, Bronze Star and Purple Hearts as well as ordinary citizens who worked and lived in Harford County. Many members of the church belong to families whose very roots are in the origin of the church.
The public is encouraged to support Calvary at a hearing on June 13 at 11 am at the Circuit Court in Bel Air, Maryland. For more information about Calvary Church visit our FB page: historic Calvary Church. The congregation would be happy to answer any questions and would be delighted with any help and support individuals or groups could give to fight the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodists and save this early American Christian treasure.