In the Beginning…
The church in Laurel, Maryland, met for its first worship service on October 2, 1960. Thirty-five adults, most of whom had previously worshipped at Silver Spring and at other congregations in the area, were present with their families that day. The group met in the Masonic Hall on Washington Boulevard because it was the only available meeting place. They met there until late 1962. The average attendance soon reached 100. The Masonic Hall was inadequate for this size group and the congregation soon got the opportunity to purchase property that a Baptist Church had just vacated at the corner of Washington Boulevard and Montgomery Street. This building seated about 300, had twenty-one classrooms, and had a four-bedroom residence.
The First Family
Those in attendance that first worship service were: Thomas Ethridge family, Burl Binkley, Calvin Dalton family, Donald Wasinsky family, Charles Ranson family, Weldon Scott family, E. M. Glover family, Virgil Anderson family, Lowell Dunham family, Stanley McNally family, Mrs. Kay Ruth, C. M. Brooks, Mrs. Freda Miller and son, Ralph Robinson, Jack Sheppard, Curtis Combs, Leonard Irick, C. W. Wilson, Mrs. Sarah Wilson, Charles Sparks, Joseph Burrows, Eddie Franklin, Donald Potts, R.L. Maines, and Mabel Monroe.
Brother Curtis C. Combs, who had worked with several other congregations in the greater Washington, D.C., area, became the first part-time preacher for the congregation. The first full-time evangelist was John Fisk, who was hired in the spring of 1965. He stayed until 1967 and John Wilkins of Levittown, Pennsylvania, was hired as evangelist. Brother Wilkins stayed until 1974. He was followed by Dale Lemon, who stayed until 1978. Other evangelists for the congregation have included Rick Coles, Bill Thompson, Billy Smith, Ches Wooten, Duane Salisbury, Garth Smith, and Mike Ray. Bren White joined the staff in 2011 as our outreach minister. Ian Drucker joined the staff in 2014 as our in-reach minister.
Elders were selected in February 1965. They were Curtis Combs, Burl Binkley and Howard Hoshall. Deacons were appointed in March 1965. They were Thomas Ethridge, Floyd Fowler and Robert Zerphy. Other men who have served as elders for the congregation include Thomas Ethridge, Larry Clements, Dale Lemon, Floyd Fowler, Jim Dyer, Jeff Cather, Thomas Martin, Farin Crone, Don Morris, Charles Thomas, Otha Thornton, Wayne Dellinger, Michael Baker, Allen Pratt, Steve Thornton, and Stew Highberg, Michael Wilkins, John Shipley, Myron Harper and Jody Venkatesan.
The congregation grew steadily in the late 1960s and plans were made for larger facilities. In July 1969 the congregation purchased seven acres of land on Cherry Lane. The congregation moved into the new building on May 6, 1973. The Laurel congregation remained steady for many years, with attendance averaging between 150 and 180, as many people came and went due largely to our proximity to Ft. Meade.
Over the past several years, the Laurel congregation has been experiencing its greatest period of growth, having as many as 50 visitors a Sunday multiple times. This is the outcome of much prayer, the addition of ministers, member training & involvement, intensified personal outreach, and direct mass mailings. The congregation currently has over 450 on its member rolls, with an average attendance of 350.