I’d like to know more about the Church.

Towson United Methodist Church is a nonprofit, faith-based community of Christ-followers growing in
love of God and neighbor. We believe every person is of sacred worth; and we commit to Jesus’ example
of inclusive love, care, and intentional hospitality with persons of every race, ethnicity, age, sexual
orientation, gender identity, marital status, faith story, physical or mental ability, economic status or
political perspective. We respect our diversity of opinion and expressions of faith. And, we are dedicated
to helping those in need, both locally and globally.

Through engaging worship, diverse music, and rich learning opportunities, we nurture faith formation
and self-expression that shape our hearts and minds as we grown into mature disciples of Christ. Our
faith journeys are shared and celebrated through various church connections, such as baptism,
confirmation, music, Bible study, retreats, seasonal studies, prayer vines, Sunday School and much

Through our hands-on ministries and programs, we help countless people achieve their potential each
year. Our missions and ministries support and empower some of our community’s most vulnerable
members, including low-income and homeless families, at-risk youth, disaster victims, and those
recovering from addictions – both in America and abroad.
As God loves us, so let us love and serve in the name of Christ.

Our History & Beliefs

History of Towson and Towson Church

Before the United States unanimously adopted the Declaration of Independence, brothers William and
Thomas Towson settled into farming an area of Sater’s Hill in Maryland, along the trade route to York,
Pennsylvania as it connected with the Native American trail, known as Joppa Road. The year was 1752
and the family worked diligently to accommodate an increasing amount of travelers bringing goods and
livestock to the port of Baltimore by building and managing the Towson Hotel. Their hamlet, fondly
called Towsontown, quickly expanded to a village; and in 1790, attracted businessman Capt. Charles
Ridgely to construct the Hampton Mansion, now preserved as the Hampton National Historic Site, after
six generations of Ridgeleys lived there until 1948.

About a half mile down Hampton Lane from the mansion stands Towson United Methodist Church. Built
in its current location in 1958, the church has its beginnings in that small Towsontown village of long
ago, where townsfolk gathered for prayer meetings in private homes. It was not until 1839 that a
Citizens’ Committee realized the community’s desire for public worship and built a union church for all

denominations through a land grant from Henry Chew, owner of Epsom Estate, on the site of an old
arsenal occupied by the United States Government during the War of 1812. Built by General Nathan
Towson, Epsom Chapel opened on November 10, 1839 with Rev. Daniel Helper of the Methodist
Episcopal Church officiating.

A century after the Towson brothers originally settled in the area, Towsontown was established as the
county seat by popular vote in 1854, which moved the Baltimore County Courthouse to its current
location in the center of town. The Ridgely family donated limestone and marble for its construction and
local doctor, Grafton Marsh Bosley, donated the land.

As the community grew in popularity and size, the Methodist Episcopal congregation desired a building
of its own. Local resident, Mary Shealey, donated property on York Road and the cornerstone was laid
on August 14, 1869, then disappeared by morning. [Sometime between 1929 and 1932, the original
cornerstone was found near a spring in a meadow south of town and cleaned, then replaced in its
proper position.] The new Towson Church was dedicated in October 1871 with a congregation of 86
members and its first appointed pastor, assigned by the Baltimore Conference. In subsequent years, a
branch of Towson Church organized with worship services in a schoolhouse north on York Road across
the Gunpowder River in Dulaney Valley. When this congregation grew beyond its one-room limits, local
residents, Alfred and Fannie Lee, donated land on which Lakeview Methodist church was built and
dedicated in 1893. Around 1912, Baltimore City purchased the property for the Loch Raven Reservoir,
which submerged the entire Dulaney Valley village with water. From the sale of church land, the Lake
Methodist congregation bought a pipe organ and installed it in the brick church on York Road.
Around the same time, the Methodist Episcopal congregation built its own worship space, congregants
at Epsom Chapel bought a melodian for their church. Some members believed instrumental music
should not be used in church and withdrew membership, forming the Methodist Protestant Church in
1861. This congregation built a stone church with a bell tower and eight stained glass windows at
Allegheny and Bosley Avenues in 1908.

Later in 1952, these two churches merged and became Towson Methodist Church, upon near-
unanimous voting of 1400 combined members. Land for the merged church was purchased from
Goucher College when the Baltimore Beltway construction severed 16 acres from campus. On Sunday,
May 11, 1958, the church held a Service of Consecration. Ten years later, by the conclusion of the 1968
General Conference, the existing Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren Churches merged, officially
creating Towson United Methodist Church – which successfully established programs for men, women
and youth for full inclusion and involvement in the new church.

Symbolism in Towson Church

narthex — the church foyer, wherein early Christian worshipers (who emerged from catacombs and
other secret places of worship, but were not yet members) stood and watched worship services
between the cracks of rods made from the Greek plant “narthex”

nave – the area beyond the narthex, derived from the Latin word “naves”, meaning “ship”, called such
because of the Christians’ connections to Noah’s Ark and the church as the ship of the Lord, in which
Christians sailed together in the sea of life

red carpet – representing the path of the martyrs, from the narthex, through the nave and chancel, to
the area behind the altar rail, known as the “sanctuary” or “holy place”

altar – a tomb-shape in the chancel that serves as a reminder of the tombs that early Christian
worshippers secretly used as altars in the catacomb tunnels

candles – burning brightly as Christ’s Light of the World, the two large candles on either side of the altar
show God’s humanity and divinity. Banks of candles on each side of the chancel light sanctuary for

flowers – fresh flowers on either side of the altar symbolize God’s power to bring life from earth, just as
Christ was brought forth from the manger and, later, the grave

frontal – cloth placed on the altar that changes colors with the season

cross – a message of hope, hanging on the back wall of the chancel area
chancel – area that includes the choir loft, pulpit (used for preaching), lectern (used for reading
scripture), and communion table

chapel – Dedicated on Sunday, May 14, 1967 in honor of former pastor Dr. Lewis F. Ransom, our chapel
includes painted glass windows representing the life of Christ and promoting the longstanding
Methodist tradition of Christian Education.

“A Brief History,” Rev. G. Custer Cromwell, Church Directory of First Methodist Church, 1950
“Towson United Methodist Church, 1871-1971, Methodism in Towson” complied by Centennial Committee, 1971
“Travel Guide” Towson, Maryland history, www.triposo.com