THE UCC IS A CHURCH OF FIRSTS:
> 1st Woman Pastor
> 1st African-American Pastor
> 1st School for the Deaf
> 1st Ordained Openly Gay Minister
> 1st Integrated Anti-Slavery Society
The history of St. Paul’s United Church of Christ is, at its core, a story of audacity. Just after the Civil War ended, a small group of 25 members committed themselves to becoming a religious presence in downtown Westminster. So they built a church that accommodated well over 220 people. The congregation has grown into the building.
By 1869, St. Paul’s church building was completed at a cost of $16,500. In eight years, the mortgage was paid in full. Dedicated for use in 1870, St. Paul’s church building was praised for its beauty among the churches of Maryland. Despite being shortened after it was knocked down by a major storm, the church steeple still rises high above Belle Grove Square and is visible from nearly every road leading into the city. In 1893, a parsonage was built for use as a home to over a dozen pastors in the following 100 years. In 1993, the parsonage was rededicated as the Parish House, which is currently home to our church offices and conference room.
The 1950’s were a decade of significant growth and change which began with the addition of our Fellowship Hall and ended with the purchase of the Royer building and remodeling of the Sanctuary. A recent major renovation and construction project made the entire facility handicap accessible.
St. Paul’s was initially established as part of the German Reformed Church in the United States. In 1934, the German Reformed Church, with roots stretching back to the 1700’s in the mid-Atlantic region, merged with the German Evangelical Synod in North America, whose members settled largely in the Midwest in the 1800’s. Together, they formed the Evangelical and Reformed Church. In 1957, the Evangelical and Reformed Church merged with the Congregational Christian Churches whose history includes the Pilgrims and the earliest settlers of America. The result is the United Church of Christ which celebrated its 50th anniversary in June, 2007.
Throughout its history, St. Paul’s United Church of Christ has been attentive to matters of social justice, for example, regarding welcome, accessibility and inclusive language. In a wide variety of ways, the congregation has maintained its firm commitment to community service and world-wide mission.
On September 7, 2008, St. Paul’s became the first church in Carroll County to officially declare itself to be Open and Affirming to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. With the passage of Marriage Equality legislation in Maryland, St. Paul’s became and remains the only mainline Christian church in Carroll County where same-sex couples can wed.
During that same 2008 Congregational Meeting, St. Paul’s committed $400,000 to create the St. Paul’s Foundation which is being used to target root causes of major social problems regionally, nationally and internationally. We are also prepared to serve as a Partners in Care Congregation with the Maryland National Guard, providing supplemental support to veterans returning from war-zone deployments and engaged in other duties.
St. Paul’s is a friendly and caring church. We continue to work together in love and fellowship for a common cause — to love God and serve all of God’s Creation. We are confident that, with God’s help and by God’s grace, our future will reflect the same spirit of self-sacrifice and compassion that is our legacy and our calling.