Metropolitan AME -170 Anniversary
The Metropolitan AME Church, 309 Frederick St., is celebrating its 170th anniversary. In celebration of this historical occasion, the congregation has planned several activities, which will culminate Sunday with a worship service and a banquet.
Today, Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., the church will host an open house and will showcase news items, pictures of events and a continuously playing DVD to commemorate the history and current activities of Metropolitan AME Church.
An Anniversary Worship Service will be held Sunday at 11 a.m., with Bishop Adam Jefferson Richardson Jr., presiding prelate of the Second Episcopal District, as speaker.
A banquet will follow the worship service at 3 p.m. at the Cumberland Country Club. Pastor Harry L. Seawright, Union Bethel AME Church, Brandywine, will be the speaker. Reservations are necessary for the dinner and may be made by contacting Lianne Cofield at (301) 777-3724.
For many years, blacks of the Methodist Episcopal faith were accustomed to attending services at the Centre Street Methodist Episcopal Church, where a portion of the gallery was set apart for their use. In 1837, these parishioners became determined to provide themselves with a house of worship and chartered an organization and elected a board of trustees consisting of Nathaniel Burgee, William Cornish, Phillip Only, Jacob Mitchell, William Hamilton, John Page, John Murdock and Henry Robinson.
After a period of time, Father Golden of Baltimore came here and devoted himself to the work. Before the close of his first year in 1848, Golden and the congregation, originally known as Bethel AME, succeeded in securing, erecting, and completing the first church structure, a plain brick building on Frederick Street Extended. The construction work was undertaken at that time by freed slaves. The blacks represented many of the building trades in Cumberland's early history and applied their skills in building the church.
The building site, known as Matruder's Addition, was deeded to the trustees on Jan. 6, 1863, at a cost of $150. The church at this site was rebuilt and enlarged in 1871 and again in 1875 to accommodate the increased membership.
From 1840 to 1860, the free black population of Allegany County rose from 215 to 467, while the slave population dropped from 812 to 666. Maryland emancipated its slaves on Nov. 1, 1864. By 1870, 1,166 free blacks lived in the county.
In 1883, the first story of a new church was built and dedicated at a new location on the corner of Frederick and Decatur streets. The Rev Cox was the pastor when the land was purchased, however, it was during the pastorate of the Rev. Bower and the Rev. Travers that construction took place. Lawrence Males gave the first dollar and silver spoon to be put into the cornerstone. The deed to this new site was drawn up between the Home Building Association and Metropolitan AME Church on Nov. 27, 1888, for a cost of $650. An initial down payment of $400 was made, with the final payment and release of the deed to the church coming in September 1889.
The AME Church of today had its second story constructed and dedicated in 1892, with the work undertaken by congregational members and friends. The architectural design of the two-story brick building is Gothic with pointed arches, a steep, high roof, and a large, priceless Gothic stained glassed window which was put into place during the pastorate of the Rev Addison. The first floor serves as a Sunday school and for general church activities. The upper floor, with a high ceiling, is the main sanctuary with a balcony on the Decatur Street side. The main entrance is served by two doorways, with a side door serving those coming in the sanctuary from the parking lot, which was constructed in 1997. The interior has a plain decoration, but from 1930 until 1997 featured a floor to-ceiling pipe organ. The pews are of the original early time, being curved to give everyone a "face-view" to the altar.
A kitchen, two bathrooms, choir loft, expanded pulpit, carpet, chandeliers, a chair-lift with rail and a heating system were interior additions to the church over the years.
In 1856, Metropolitan AME Church was originally a part of the Cumberland Circuit, Baltimore Conference, with the Rev. James R. Sterret appointed as pastor, the Rev. Thomas W Henry serving as presiding elder and under the authority of Right Rev. Daniel A. Payne. Now in its 170th year, Metropolitan AME Church is part of the Western Cluster of the Capitol District', Washington Annual Conference, of the Second Episcopal District of the AME Connectional Church. Metropolitan's current pastor is the Rev. Alfred Deas Jr., who has served the church since May 2001 under the leadership of Presiding Elder Goodwin Douglas, a former pastor of Metropolitan, and the Right Rev. Adam Jefferson Richardson Jr. and Episcopal Supervisor Connie Speights Richardson.
The newspaper article incorrectly identifies "Matruder's" Addition. It should be Magruder's Addition.
Allegany County, Maryland
African Americans, History; Allegany County (Md.), History.
Allegany County (Md.), 1890-2008