Members of St. George’s United Methodist Church will have something more to celebrate this weekend. Sunday, Oct. 22, marks the church’s 190th year of ministry in unincorporated Clarksville. In addition to the Sunday worship services at 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m., there will be a special “Homecoming” service at 2 p.m., followed by a dinner that evening.
The Rev. Mike Hurley has been with St. George’s for more than six years. It’s a blink of the eye in the church’s long history, but Hurley is one of many who have served behind the pulpit at St. George’s.
“We’ve invited all those previous pastors who are still with us to come back,” said Hurley, “And we’re looking for anyone who sang in the children’s choir come together and sing.” Indeed, the Rev. Roy Phillips, who was the minister at St. George’s from 1959 to 1961, will be keynote speaker at the 2 p.m. service.
Near the end of the 1700’s, the Methodist church, in its rapid expansion, stretched into Sussex County. In 1816, people of the Methodist faith met for services in an old house — just 16 feet by 18 feet in size — located in the Blackwater District #123.
The members were strongly devoted and growing in numbers. Before long, a new building needed to be constructed, and in 1840, the Old St. George’s Methodist Church was erected in thick pine woods. Some 40 years later, as the number of members and followers continued increasing, the new St. George’s Methodist Church was built where it stands today, among the oaks at the corner of Omar Road and Atlantic Avenue, in Clarksville.
Due to the change in location since its start in 1816, the church has adopted the slogan, “From Pines to Oaks.”
“We try to do a lot for the local area,” said Hurley of St. George’s current legacy. “Right now, we have Bible studies, AA meetings and Cub Scouts that meet here. Our choir is still active, going out to nursing homes.” The church also stays in touch with friends and loved ones abroad in the armed forces.
“We give back very generously into the community,” said Nancy Baugher, lay speaker and active member of St. George’s for more than 12 years. “About 22 percent of what comes in goes right back [to the community].”
“We believe, ‘Give and it will be given unto you’,” said Hurley. “There’s a great core of people here who contribute a lot — and not just with money, but with time, too.”
“We are very fortunate to be able to tithe as a church,” added Hurley.
St. George’s Methodist averages 135 in attendance at services each week, with 251 members and still growing. “We try to keep our membership roles current,” he noted. “We’re in that tradition of John Wesley, who believed that we are called of God. John Wesley said the world was his parish, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Invitations for this week’s special events were sent out to members, families and friends, but the membership and the 190th anniversary celebration are open to everyone. Contact the St. George’s United Methodist Church for more information, at (302) 539-7491.