More than 200 people packed the pews of St. George’s United Methodist Church on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 22, to celebrate the 190th year anniversary of the ministry. The real joy for those at the event was not only in gathering together past and present members of the church — it was also in celebrating the enduring strength of the Methodist community.
Its current pastor, the Rev. Michael Hurley, began the “Homecoming” ceremony. In his speech, he welcomed everyone and said, “The doors to St. George’s are always open.”
He said he believes it was the unity of the members of the church in the past, as early as 1816, that made the ministry such a strong and lasting force. Hurley said that strength indisputability still present in the church today.
“There are quite a number of people who come to this church who are living their faith, not just talking,” said Hurley.
That includes people like St. George’s member Mike Truitt, who spends his summer nights sharing faith by singing songs about God on the Ocean City boardwalk. Truitt brought a personal touch to the homecoming celebration when he sang “On the Steps of St. George’s,” a song he wrote about his search for God after losing a friend.
Truitt pointed out that the church had meant a lot to him, as he grew up in Clarksville. He said even his birth certificate read: “Born in the gray house two doors down from St. George’s Church.”
Truitt said he had learned since then that, “God doesn’t live in buildings, he lives in our hearts.”
Music was a recurring theme throughout the program Sunday afternoon. The Bell Choir and Sunday-school department showed of their melodic talents with their performances of “God is Good” and “Joyful.”
Past choir director Joan Morin added an element of humor to the service when she, once again, stood before the people to direct the Chancel Choir. The Chancel Choir was composed of alumni choir members who reenacted their younger days of performing for St. George’s, proving they had not quite all grown up yet — but could still sing.
“It was wonderful, quite a nice celebration,” said Hurley of the “Homecoming” ceremony. “We got to see a lot of people we haven’t seen in a long time.”
Among those people were former pastors Ted Elser, Ruth Tull and Roy Phillips. It had been 46 years since past Phillips had delivered a sermon for St. George’s Church. Phillips returned Sunday to speak again at the “Homecoming” celebration and jokingly said, “There are some late-comers who think I were here when this church started 190 years ago.”
In his message, he said that, over the years of his life, he had seen many drastic changes in the world. Phillips noted how he and his peers had witnessed the infancy of the automobile and airplanes develop into the technology we have today. He also had noticed the usage of the English language change, he said.
“In my day, pot used to be something you put on a stove. Hanging out was what you did with clothes, and making out — that meant you were getting along.”
Over those many years, Phillips emphasized that one thing has remained constant: There is still a strong church. “The church is of God and the church will stand for time,” he said. “As long as time is here, the church will be here.”
He also stressed how important the fellowship of the people who get together each week is and how they provide support for one another and the community. Hurley agreed with the Phillips’ message. “It’s not just a meeting place on Sunday,” he said. “It’s a way of life.”
The “Homecoming” celebration ended strategically with a hearty “good ol’ Methodist dinner” provided by the church for all present. While stories were swapped over chicken and mashed potatoes, excitement stewed as the St. George’s 200th year anniversary celebration was decidedly anticipated.