Our Church’s Name
Arnolia takes its name from two trees which grew in the area: the Ar-butus tree and the Mag-nolia tree. That kind of connection to God’s creation offers a reminder of what God had already placed here. Being mindful of the work God already has done is a good start for taking on the work God is calling us to be a part of – loving our neighbors, seeking justice, and working for peace.
Our Church’s History: The First 100 Years
Three miles is a long way to walk over dusty roads in summer and muddy roads in winter. But it was this walk the residents of Baynesville were obliged to take on Sunday to get to the nearest Methodist Church at Providence until they considered their number adequate to have a church of their own village. A meeting was held on August 24, 1910, at the home of Mr. John C. Dorfler with the pastor, Rev. H. E. R. Reck, and other interested persons present. Then and there a Sunday School was organized.
Arnolia was selected as the name. The “Ar” was taken from the first syllable of Arbutus, which bloomed profusely in the neighborhood, and “nolia” from the last syllables of Magnolia, which flourished in the adjoining woods.
The first Sunday School meeting was held at the home of Mr. Dorfler on August 28, 1910, with twenty-four persons present. The meetings continued each Sunday at the same home until the new building was ready for use.
The main purpose of the Sunday School was to reach some of the neglected persons in the neighborhood who indulged in sport and amusement on Sunday. This purpose was largely accomplished as new members continued entering until there were ninety-six on the roll, and the offerings were surprisingly good.
The next step was taken to hold a meeting of all residents of Baynesville for the purpose of selecting trustees for the new church organization. The following were elected and incorporated in accordance with the Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church: Mr. John C. Dorfler, Mr. Harold C. Carter, Mr.Edmund Clifford, Mrs. Mary G. Tagg, Mr. Edward C. Carroll, Mr. Andrew Sims, and Mr. Clarence D. Heubeck.
Sometime before action was taken on the matter for the village, Mr. Thomas R. Jenifer gave a plot of ground at the corner of Joppa Road and Cowpens Avenue for a church building.
A building was nearly ready, except for plastering, for the first Christmas entertainment held Monday night, December 26, 1910, and which incidentally, was the very first assembly ever held in the new building. Heat was provided by means of borrowed oil stoves. One stove had to be thrown out of the window because it was upset by Santa Claus while hopping around jingling his bells. The first Sunday School service in the new building was held January 8, 1911.
Baynesville at this time was a small community located about 9 miles north of the center of Baltimore at the junction of Loch Raven Boulevard and Joppa Road. The people considered themselves rural. It was a closely knit community – a few stores and a two-room schoolhouse. Many of the men worked at the Black and Decker Company, a manufacturer of portable tools. Towson, the county seat, lay about two and one-half miles to the west.
During the 1930s, signs of growth in the neighborhood began to emerge. A two-lane highway was built into the center of the village. The Bendix Corporation established a large plant on the fringe of the community. A few new homes were constructed. Then in the 1940s the village began to change its pattern of living. The building boom in the Baltimore suburbs began to burst right in our midst. What had been grain fields and pasture lands were being turned into streets and rows of homes. Threes and grass gave way to concrete and telephone poles.
The community was changing, but what was happening at Arnolia? When organized in 1910, it became a member of the Great Falls Circuit, consisting of about eight churches. The circuit was gradually dissolved,until in 1930, there were only three churches remaining — Arnolia, Linden Heights, and Providence. Each of these congregations was small. The total finances of all three was insufficient to support a regularly ordained clergyman; hence, the circuit was served by student pastors. This was a serious handicap, as it unfortunately restricted the growth of the church, commensurate with the rapidly expanding community.
The first sign of renewed growth at Arnolia was in 1940 when the congregation approved the construction of a new frame building which became the sanctuary. From 19 until 1942, Arnolia Methodist was the only church in Baynesville. In 1942 the Baptists built a small but efficient church of stone. In 1947-48 the Roman Catholics built a structure costing about$300,000. They also built a school. The Presbyterians came in 1945-46. The Lutherans came in 1951 and erected a small but suitable building costing about $65,000. Each of these churches had a full-time pastor.
Arnolia was still served by a student pastor. The community now numbered about 3,000 or more families, and it was apparent Arnolia needed immediate action and amplified attention. The student pastor directed his efforts to strengthening the church to the extent that it might be made into a regular station. After approximately six months of conference and study with the District Superintendent, the plan for separation from the circuit was approved, and Arnolia became a station in June,1952.
Arnolia’s finances at the time, however,were still not sufficient to enable it to have other than a student pastor, and Rev. N. Ellsworth Bunce was assigned to the church, while still finishing his seminary studies. He was ordained while serving Arnolia and remained until 1957.
The main obstacles to further programs were now outside the church. Part of the property which Mr. Thomas R. Jenifer had deeded to the church in 1911 was subject to the “rights and privileges of the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore for the purpose of supplying Baltimore City with water from Loch Raven Reservoir.” This right-of way prevented immediate further church expansion. After much work on the part of the student pastor and the District Superintendent, the City Council passed an Act of Settlement, which, while it did not accomplish all that was desired, did greatly improve the situation. This was August, 1951.
In September of 1952, a fund-raising campaign was organized which totaled some $16,000 in cash and pledges, of which about $10,099.9 was fully paid within the following eight months. Arnolia now began to feel more confident of its future.
Then more difficulty was encountered. The State of Maryland announced plans to build a super-beltway around the city of Baltimore which would eventually cut through our sanctuary. The Church would have to settle with the state and find some means of erecting a new building. A six-month period of confusion and discouragement plagued the congregation. In the meantime, Loch Raven Methodist Church was organized and built on nearby Loch Raven Boulevard.
More months of anxiety and frustration passed as the building committee looked at possible relocation sites ranging in value from $10,000 to $22,000 each. All had to be rejected as unsuitable by the District Committee on Church Locations of the Baltimore Conference, Rev. N. Ellsworth Bunce, and the Trustees of Arnolia. On December 15, 1953, Rev. Bunce, with the President of the Church Trustees, signed settlement papers for the purchase of 2.3 acres of ground on the corner of Joppa and Oakleigh Roads, improved by a large stone house and double garage. Previously, there was no parsonage. The pastor and his family lived in a three-room apartment provided by the church. This purchase met the following four immediate needs:
- It provided land for new construction.
- It provided a parsonage.
- It allowed three rooms and basement for use of the church.
- It provided a psychological uplift for a discouraged congregation.
Realizing that further action had to betaken as soon as possible, the officials of the church decided to assume additional debt for the erection of a Chapel-Fellowship Hall with a kitchen,lavatories, and the two needed Sunday School rooms.
The cornerstone was laid in 1955 duringthe pastorate of N. Ellsworth Bunce.
Rev. William C. Taylor arrived in 1957 and stayed until 1962. A Kinder-Center was opened in 1957 in the two new Sunday School rooms and served the community for 12 years. A new financial drive, held in June, 1960, made possible the addition of a wing to the Chapel-Fellowship Hall. This facility, completed in December 1961, includes two offices and eight classrooms.
Rev. W. McCarl Roberts was appointed to Arnolia in 1962, where he remained until 1974. In the fall of 1965 a new parsonage was purchased at 1810 Rushley Road. The Roberts family moved into the house in November, 1965. The stone house at 1776 E. Joppa road was torn down to make way for the construction of the sanctuary. Ground was broken on Sunday, February 11,1968 and construction was completed by the fall of that year. In November, Bishop John Wesley Lord presided over the consecration ceremonies. The new sanctuary seats 324 in the nave and 80 in the overflow area. Six classrooms and a choir room, plus two lavatories are in the basement.
A carillon was also dedicated. This uses tapes of “bell music” that play from the tower at various times during the day. Many appointments for the church were given in memory of or in honor of loved ones.
The Chapel-Fellowship Hall is now used as a Fellowship Hall, for church school, organizations and community programs,suppers and luncheons, shows, dances, and many other activities. The original sanctuary plans include a future wing for pre-school classrooms and offices, to be built parallel to the existing education unit.
In June, 1972, a new digital computer organ was purchased and the dedication service was held in December.
During Rev. Roberts’ ministry, there were two assistant pastors: Rev. Ira Shindle and Rev. Allen Gillis. In June 1973, Rev. William P. Wyatt, Jr., was appointed as Arnolia’s first Associate Pastor. Rev. Wyatt served until December, 1974, at which time he was appointed to Camp Chapel United Methodist Church as its full-time pastor.
Rev. Jack Buckingham from Brooklyn United Methodist Church as appointed in June, 1974. As of May 1976, Arnolia had grown from a group of 24 persons to over 900 members, and a total property value of $550,000.
A theatre group called “The Arnolia Players” was formed in 1975 under the directions of Mrs. Kathryn Depue. Their first production, a musical spoof about the fifties, was given in October 1975, and they continued every October for another 25 years. They took their shows“on the road” to nursing homes and other churches as well.
In June, 1976, Rev. Lyle E. Harper was appointed to Arnolia. He came to Arnolia from St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Chevy Chase, MD. This same year a library was begun in memory of Mrs. Irene Yopp.
Rev. Diana L. Hynson was appointed as Associate Pastor in June, 1980. She remained for only one year due to the shortage of finances at Arnolia at that time.
Arnolia Child Care Center, offering year-round full-time care for preschoolers, was opened in September, 1980 under the direction of Mrs. Ann Buckley. Due to its success and the need in the community, the center doubled its capacity in April, 1982. Mrs. Buckley continued as its director through June, 2009, when she retired.
Dr. Jarrett T. Wicklein, a former member of Arnolia, was appointed in June, 1981, coming from Middletown United Methodist Church in Middletown, MD. A Program Director, Mrs. Audrey Waltrup, joined the staff in April, 1983, and continued in that position for several years. Later, a member of the congregation, Ms. Judy Emerson, became the Coordinator of Volunteers, a staff position that continued until 1992.
Having just retired, Rev. Elton Crossland became Pastoral Assistant in 1991, brought on staff after many years as pastor of Linden Heights United Methodist Church in Cub Hill, MD. Pastor Crossland served Arnolia in assisting with pastoral visitation, preaching, leading Bible studies, and support the church’s focus on Christian Education and Missions.
In July, 1992, Dr. William L. Raker was assigned to Arnolia after serving Oxon Hill United Methodist Church in the Washington, D.C. area.
In July 1994, a new Rodgers Classic Organ- Model 955 – was purchased. It is a 3-manual instrument with 57 “voices” – state of the art midi interface. It was first used in worship service on July 17, 1994, and a formal consecration service was held on Sunday afternoon of October, 23, with Craig Nickerson at the keyboard.
Arnolia’s music program during this time, under the direction of Dr. Richard Disharoon, and with a new organ worshipfully played by Craig Nickerson, was exceptional in its quality.
In 1995 a grateful congregation celebrated 85 years of ministry, sustained by God’s love, and seeking to be God’s people,ready to face the next 85 years in HOPE and FAITH.
Rev. Gary Sheffield-James was appointed to Arnolia in the year 2000. Under his leadership and with the expertise of Don Potter, retired architect, a major renovations project was undertaken to make important repairs to the “tired” building. Phase One was the overhaul of the steeple. Phase Two included removal of asbestos and the laying of new floors and installation of new windows in the education wing. New windows and floor were also installed in the fellowship hall, and the bathrooms were updated.
During this phase, Arnolia was given the unique opportunity to merge with Wilson United Methodist Church in Long Green, MD. The congregation of this church had decided their numbers were too small to continue, and with the guidance of Rev. McCarl Roberts, Rev. Gary Sheffield-James, and advice and counsel from the Conference, the merger was completed, with an eye toward selling the property so the renovations of Arnolia could be completed as planned. The cemetery, however, must remain in perpetuity and cared for by Arnolia.
In 2007, Rev. Marianne Brown began her pastorate at Arnolia. With the help of her financial background,and dedication of John Hass, former member of Wilson UMC, Michael Pfeifer, chair of finance, and Richard Krebs, trustees chair, the complicated steps of selling the Wilson church property were begun. The Wilson parsonage and the church building were sold in the spring and summer of 2010, enabling Arnolia to pay off the renovations debt.
After 30 years in business, Arnolia ChildCare Center was closed on December 31, 2009. In accordance with the center’s bylaws, most of the equipment and supplies were sold and the monies used for mission work.
On October 10, 2010, Arnolia United Methodist celebrated its 100th anniversary with a special banquet. Many past members and several previous pastors were able to attend this huge major milestone in Arnolia’s life. Prayers for the next 100 years in glorifying God and serving His people in faith were lifted up. Mike Pfeifer emceed the event to the amusement and joy of all.
Rev. Mary Ellen Glorioso was appointed to Arnolia in 2011. Her years of experience, friendly personality, and leadership style enamored the congregation from the start.
On August 1, 2011, in honor of the former Wilson United Methodist Church and its contribution to United Methodism’s rich history in Baltimore County, Arnolia’s Church Council voted to change the name of its Fellowship Hall to Wilson Hall. A cemetery committee was formed around this time for the purpose of keeping the Wilson Cemetery in repair, ascertaining the number of burial plots available for sale, and establishing price per plot.
The last section of the Wilson property, a building lot, was sold on December 15, 2011, and the money was set aside for rebuilding the Wilson Cemetery fund and for capital improvements to Arnolia.
In the fall of 2011, the Arnolia Trustees took on the daunting task of replacing the sanctuary slate roof with long-warranty shingles; the slate was in such bad shape, no roofer would bid on repairing it. After eight months of interviewing roofing companies, comparing bids, and much prayer, the bid was awarded and work began on June 4, 2012. Fund raising through bonds, gifts, and pledges, plus funds from the sale of the Wilson lot, underwrote the project. Along with the sanctuary roof replacement, the two flat roofs were replaced and major repairs were made to the Education Wing and Wilson Hall slate roofs.