Three Churches at the Crossroads
The stately granite church, Baldwin Memorial United Methodist, celebrated its 100th year in 1996. This is the third church edifice to stand on this same location at the intersection of Generals Highway and Indian Landing Road. The beginning of our church dates back to the 1770’s when the followers of John Wesley formed and worshipped in Methodist societies. The Methodist Episcopal Church in America was formed in 1784; Francis Asbury was elected and ordained its Bishop. These Methodist Societies met in members’ homes and the preachers rode circuits visiting these societies. Brooksby’s Point, the home of John and Lydia Sewell, was the location for Society meetings on the Annapolis circuit in 1777. Francis Asbury preached several times at Brooksby’s Point, about one and one-half miles from our church.
The first church to be erected on the site of the present church was a frame one. In 1817, the Methodist Episcopals joined with the Protestant Episcopals to build this frame church because the Society meetings had grown too large for a private home. These two congregations used this church sanctuary on alternate Sundays. A circuit rider served the Methodist congregation. In 1840, the Protestant Episcopal members built their own church, St. Stephens Episcopal Church. They later sold their share of the first church to the Methodist for $100.00.
In 1861, the Methodists replaced the first church with a Georgian colonial style frame building. It was called the Cross Roads Church and was part of the Severn Circuit. This eight church circuit was served by one of two traveling ministers every other Sunday. The sons and daughters of William Henry and Jane Maria Woodward Baldwin asked and received permission from the conference to replace the 1861 colonial church with a stone church in memory of their parents. The colonial Church was moved across Indian Landing Road to be used for a church school.
In 1896, a lovely granite church resembling an English country chapel was completed. On Thanksgiving Day 1896, the third church was dedicated free of debt by Bishop John F. Hurst. Rev. Charles Jones served as a full time pastor. The Baltimore Annual Conference voted, over the protests of the donors, to change the name of the church from Cross Roads Church to Baldwin Memorial Church in recognition of the tireless support to this Methodist Episcopal congregation by Mr. and Mrs. William Henry Baldwin.
The stained glass window over the altar in our Sanctuary depicting the Apostle John was donated by Mrs. William Woodward, Jr. in memory of her husband. This window was made by the Tiffany Studios in New York City for another church, but Mrs. Woodward was able to acquire it for Baldwin Memorial Church. In 1907, the sons and daughters of Richard and Sophronia Baldwin donated the stained glass window in the apse of the Church as a memorial to their parents. This lovely and peaceful window was also made by the Tiffany Studios.
In 1936, the church school had become crowded and an addition to the church school building, previously the Cross Roads Church, was constructed. This building was rededicated and named the Charles W. Baldwin Hall. Rev. Baldwin, a son of William Henry and Jane Marie Baldwin had served as a circuit rider here in the 1860’s. He had served in many important leadership roles in the Baltimore Annual Conference.
In 1963, the membership in our church was growing rapidly and the church was enlarged with a divided chancel. The rear wall of the church was removed and the Sanctuary extended. A basement was included in this addition to provide a church office and choir room. Rev. Glenn F. Clulow was the pastor during this building program. Later, the congregation decided that a new educational building was needed. In 1969 the ground breaking for the educational building took place. On September 20, 1970, the building was consecrated as Summerfield Baldwin Jr. Educational Building. A new school for the Crofton community had been organized and used this building for elementary school age children during 1970-1971.
Baldwin Memorial celebrated its bicentennial in 1977. In April 1977, the congregation dedicated a Methodist Historical Marker, pointing out the significant heritage of this church to the many surrounding communities. Rev. W. Kenneth Lyons Jr., District Superintendent Edgar Hammersla and Bishop James K. Matthews presided at this historic ceremony. In 1981, the congregation could no longer maintain the upkeep of the Charles W. Baldwin Hall. The Severn Crossroads Foundation assumed ownership of the building and moved it across Generals Highway. It is used for many community activities. (Please note: Since 1982, the management and use of Historic Baldwin Hall is entirely separate and independent from Baldwin Memorial United Methodist Church. If you would like information about Historic Charles W. Baldwin Hall, click on this link which will take you away from the church website.)
On Easter Sunday 1982, a 23 rank Mohler pipe organ was dedicated and presented to the church by Mr. and Mrs. Edward J. Dunnavant. Mr. Dunnavant, Keith Rembold and Roy Brown installed and enclosed the pipes for the organ in the loft of the sanctuary. In 1987, the Baltimore Conference Committee on Evangelism commended Baldwin Memorial as one of six most active churches in Evangelism and outreach.
Over the years, this church has responded to the needs of the communities around it. A child care center was organized by the church in 1993. The center offers full time day care, pre-school and before/after school activity programs. Today, more than 60 children attend this center. Active programs of education for children, youth and adult, a missions program which responds to local, national and international needs and programs such as United Methodist Women, Scouts, Habitat for Humanity, Sunday Schools, Singles Group, Youth Fellowships, Choirs, Prayer Breakfasts, and Vacation Bible School are a few of the many activities present in our church today.
Between 1817 and 1881, sixty-five circuit preachers served in the first two churches at the Cross Roads. From 1896 to the present, twenty-five full time ministers and one associate minister have worked to strengthen and provide programs for the congregation and the needs of our community. Baldwin Memorial United Methodist Church, an original Asbury Station, continued to grow in membership, activities for all ages, and Christian Fellowship as it celebrated its 100th Anniversary of its third sanctuary in 1996.
In 1996, a History Room was established in the Educational Building. Permanent exhibits about the 3 churches are on display. Exhibit boards and showcases are used to show varied collections of church memorabilia. Newspaper articles dating back to the dedication of the stone church in 1896 and personal writings of members from over the years can be viewed. There are also Communion chalices, collection plates, Bibles, prayer books, printings of the three churches, architectural drawings and many other items of interest for visitors. In 2002, the congregation that had its beginning in 1777 as a “Methodist Society” was 225 years old. A reunion of this historic occasion was held on Sunday, November 17, 2002.