The conception of a United Brethren Church in Washington began long before any formal or official action was taken in the direction of its establishment.
From the time that C. I. B. Brane first came to Washington in about 1858, as a boy of ten, to take a job of sweeping the floors of a carding factory in Georgetown, his, interest in, and love for, the city of Washington grew until the day of his death. He remained in Washington at this time until after the outbreak of the Civil War, at which time he was employed in the Treasury Department. He then returned to his home near Frederick, Maryland, and there joined the United Brethren Church. At the Rocky Springs school house near Frederick, Maryland, he received the sum total of his schooling of about three months. Here he was converted and joined the church and later preached his first sermon. Soon after being granted license to preach he began his active ministry. His health broke down and his strength was not sufficient for him to withstand the rigors of ' riding the circuits" of the Virginia Moutains, where he was assigned. So he again returned to Washington where he took up the occupation of correspondent fori several newspapers and magazines. As soon as he regained his health, however, he returned to the pastorate and then began to urge his conference to establish a church in the Capital City.
On March 12, 1890, the old Maryland Conference met at Frederick and A. M. Evers, then presiding elder of the conference, incorporated the following in his annual report to the conference:
"In view of the fact that most of our ministers and members are anxious to begin missionary work in Washington, I suggest that we raise $600 on the conference floor during this session among the members of the conference for the purpose of supporting a missionary in the National Capital. This we can do and by grace of God it MUST be done. To us a church in Washington is an inviting missionary field and we should enter upon the work at once. In many of the towns and villages of the country the people are closely churched and there they have all necessary religious privileges, but in the large and growing cities it is different and in them our church has a mission. By all means let us unfurl our banner in Washington. I also suggest that all the Sunday Schools in the bounds of our conference give an entertainment or set apart a special day to raise funds to support this enterprise, and that the presiding elder and preachers in charge be required to see that such effort is made."
As a result of the adoption of this reoort the conference officially directed that steps be taken for the establishment of a United Brethren Church in the City of Washington and several days later the offering he suggested was lifted and $577 was contributed. The Stationing Committee assigned C. I. Brane to this new work. He immediately began the solicitation for funds and on April 7, 1890, less than a month after his appointment, the first money that came to him was contributed by the Myersville Sunday School at Myersville, Maryland. The amount was $2.40. During these years he had become more or less familiar with the city and the tendency of its growth, so when he came here as the founder of a new church, he consulted with some friends and former United Brethren people who had come to the city. Outstanding among these persons was his close friend, Mr. Theodore E. Shuey. who is the dean of the official reporting staff of the United States Senate and who this year is completing his sixtieth vear of such service without having missed a single day. On July 3, 1891, the lot on the northwest corner of R and North Capitol Streets; 100 by 112 feet, was purchased from Joseph Paul for $11,217. The cash payment of $2,217 that was required to close the deal was his own money and some that he borrowed from several personal friends. The plan adopted for the raising of funds was to sell bricks in the proposed chapel among the Sunday School pupils and classes of churches throughout the denomination, in addition to the personl [sic] solicitation by Mr. Brane himself. These first, named contributions were sent direct to the Church Erection Society at Dayton, Ohio, and acknowledged in the columns of The Religious Telescope. The money came in slowly and in very small contributions, the largest individual gifts being $100.
On July 27, 1892, a contract was let by C. I. B. Brane to Edward Kern for the erection of a brick chapel, 38 feet wide and 60 feet long. The contract price was $4,850, but changes and additions! to the building during process of construction brought the total cost up to about $7,000.
In the Fall of this year, 1892, a small band of individuals met at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Nelson A. Lucas on F Street, N. E. and formally organized a society. This group consisted of twelve persons, Reverend C. I. B. Brane, Clara M. Brane, Margaret Brane, Nelson A. Lucas, Ella W. Lucas, George H. Parker, Rose V. Parker, Howard Coster, J. W. Jones, Elmira Foss, C. S. Lewis and Seery S. Tippin. From that time until the chapel was completed prayer meetings were held more or less regularly at the home of' Mr. and Mrs. Lucas.
On January 22, 1893, the completed chapel was dedicated by Bishop Johnathon Weaver, D. D. The ministers present besides the pastor and Bishop Weaver were Reverends B. F. Booth, Daniel Eberly, A. M. Evers, A. H. Rice, J. L Grimm,. W. J. Johnson, ,'C. F. Flook, C. W. Stinespring, G. W. Kirkacofe, A. P Funkerhouser, and M. S. Hovey. Although the contributions were small and the total cost of the lot and chapel mounted to over $18,000, only a comparatively small debt of approximately $3,000 remained on the property.
No effort was made the first Sunday to hold any Sunday School service, but on the following Sunday 29, by previous appointment of the pastor, an invitation was extended to all those interested, to meet in the chapel at 2.30 o'clock in the afternoon for the purpose of organizing a. Sunday School. The following is quoted from the minutes of that meeting:
"After an appropriate address by the pastor, Rev. Brane, and prayer by Mr. Charles Medford, Mr. N. A. Lucas was called to the chair for the purpose of selecting a Superintendent, Secretary, Treasurer and Teachers. On motion Mr. J. W. Jones was nominated and selected temporary secretary. Mr. Edward Spies was nominated and elected Superintendent of the Sunday School, after which Mr. J. W. Jones was elected Secretary and Mr. George H. Parker Treasurer."
The following are the names of the first teachers and pupils of their respective classes: Miss Jennie Spies, Superintendent and teacher of the Primary Departmnt. [sic] Pupils: Ralph Kern, Eddie Spies, Rutledge Bates, Emory Bates, Willie Holtman, Harry Crump, Willie Heck, Roscoe Brane, Jessie Brane and Effie Browning.
Miss Iola Lucas. Teacher. Pupils: John Heck. Albert Lewis, Nelson Browning, Willie Seyboth, Calvin Lucas and Miles Lucas.
Mr. Edward Kern, Teacher. Pupils: Addie Spies, Maud Spies,. Frances Payne, Effie Bradfield and Birdie Cleveland.
Miss Lottie C. Shandaw, Teacher. Pupils: Bertha C. Miller, Alice Miller, Lottie Bartholway, Gertrude Bartholwav and Anna Shandaw.
Miss E. Bernice Spies, Teacher. Pupils: Mamie Seaman, Linda Seaman and Carrie Lucas.
Mrs. J. D. Partello, Teacher. Pupils: Walter Kern, Clarence Brad-field, John Rhodes adn Harry Saunders. (Mr. Wm. M. Spies was present but overlooked in the count.)
The number of pupils counted was 33, not counted 1; total 34. The number of teachers was 6. Total attendance was 49. The amount of the first offering was $1.37. The time of the meeting of the school was 3 o'clock p. m. The organization was named "The United Brethren Sunday School of Wasington, D. C."
The school has had six superintendents. Namely:
Mr. Edward Spies, 1893 to 1895.
Mr. Washington Topham, 1895-1898 (first term).
Mr. Charles Reed, 1898-1899.
Mr. John W. Stewart, 1899-1902.
Mr. A, E. Ogg, 1904-1905.
Mr. Washington Topham, 1902-1904 (second term).
Mr. H. J. Herschel Cooper, 1905 to present time.
At a quarterly conference held in Frederick, Maryland, on February 17, 1893, presided over by Reverend A. M. Evers, presiding elder, and of which William W. Lease was Secretary, the first Board of Trustees was elected consisting of Reverend C. I. B. Brane, Nelson A. Lucas., J. W. Jones, George H. Parker, and C. S. Lewis.
In May of 1893 Reverend C. I. B. Brane was elected by the General Conference to the position of General Secretary of the Church Erection Society. He hesitated for1 some time before he relinquished the work at Washington, in which his heart was so thoroughly wrapped up, but he was finally prevailed upon to accept what his friends and general church officials regarded as his duty. Reverend J. E. Fout was appointed to succeed him and he took up the work.
The Church and Sunday School continued to grow and on September 1st of this year, after a little over seven months, the membership had grown from twelve to forty eight, or 400 per cent.
Dr. Fout continued as pastor until July 1898, when Reverend J. B. Chamberlain took up the work and he continued until May 1901, at which time Reverend O. W. Burtner became pastor. During these years the Church and Sunday School continued to grow and early in the pastorate of Reverend Burtner the congregation' began, to feel the need of larger quarters and it was decided to see what funds could be raised toward such a project. After this was done the proposition was submitted to the Pennsylvania Conference and its help was promised.
So on April 16, 1904, plans were adopted and contract was awarded for the main church building on the corner. The architect was Abner A. Ritcher and the contractor was Mr. William E. Moonev. Ten davs later on April 26, ground was broken by the pastor. Reverend O. W. Burtner. A little more than a month later on. May 29, the corner stone of this building was laid by Bishop J. S. Mills, D. D., assisted by Reverend S. W. Moyer. The building committee and the board of trustees in charge of this work, consisting of Edward Kern, Chairman and Supoerintendent of Construction; John B. Espey. Secretary; William T. Holtman, Treasurer; Alvin H. Line, William S. Ballard, and William S. Browning.
The total cost of this beautiful brown structure was approximately $31,000, and was dedicated by Bishop J. S. Mills, D. D., assisted by Reverend W. H. Washinger, D. D. (now Bishop), C. T. Stearn. A. M. Evers, T. A. Gohn, and the pastor, Reverend W., J. Houck, who succeeded Reverend Burtner in October 1904.
The following year, with the aid of Andrew Carnegie, a solendid pipe organ was installed at a cost of nearly $3,000. This was dedicated on December 2, 1906, by Bishop J. S. Mills, D. D., and pastor Reverend W. J. Houck.
In October 1908 Reverend Houck was succeeded as pastor of the congregation by Reverend Charles E. Fultz, D. D. The new pastor entered upon his duties with vigor and determination and very quickly won his way not only into the hearts of his congregation, but also made a very large place for himself and the church in the community and city at large.
In 1911 the church building was repaired and decorated at a cost of over a thousnd [sic] dollars. The Sunday School in the meantime had grown to such proportions that a new Sunday School house was imperative. Steps were taken to construct such a building and plans were drawn and the contract was awarded to Mr. James W. Dowrick. The cost of this building was $20,830, and the corner stone was laid August 22, 1915, by Reverend W. H. Washinger, D. D., the Conference Superintendent, and the pastor, Reverend Charles E. Fultz, D. D., On December 12, 1915, the buidling was dedicated by Bishop W. M. Weekly, D. D., assisted by Reverend Charles E. Fultz, D. D.
The administration of Dr. Fultz immediately preceding the present pastorate is so outstanding and such recent history that it is still within the memory of practically everyone now connected with the church. No one can give such a long term of service as Dr. Fultz rendered in this parish without very telling results. He has built for himself in this city not so much a monument of material things as a spiritual structure that will not only endure for all time, but shall grow and grow to proportions that none of us may now dream of. When our present pastor Dr. Daugherty came a short while ago, it was generally conceded that few men could successfully step into the place made vacant by the promotion of Dr. Fultz. From the start he has made, however, in this gigantic task, it goes without saying that his success is assured. The spiritual and material growth) of the parish has been marked and a spirit of progress prevails. Our next task is to lay the way for increasing our ability to serve in this great city by the establishment of another church in the not distant future.
1. "Historical Sketch", Souvenir Program and Church Directory Commemorating the Thirty-fifth Anniversary of the founding of the Memorial United Brethren Church and Sunday School, Washington, D. C., 1928, pages 5-11.
See AlsoMemorial United Brethren Church and Sunday School 1928 Anniversary