HISTORY OF FOREST PARK COMMUNITY CHURCH

 

THE FIRST FIFTY YEARS

One hundred years of glorifying God gives reasons to reflect on the first fifty. Prior to becoming Forest Park United Presbyterian Church, Mr. James Gaily and Mr. Larry C. Kilmer held meetings in their homes. The Reverend Henry T. Sharp and others various denominations conducted the early meetings.
 
Mrs. W. B. Ehler, Mr. T. C. Pitt and Mr. W. A. Webb offered a Sunday School, held in a store with one student, Reed Gettier, attending the first session. On April 12, 1902, the Union Sabbath School Association of Forest Park was incorporated.
 
Meeting sites changed from homes, to a store, to an office until a tent was erected. Finally, a lot was purchased and a chapel was built. In 1906, action was taken to organize as a Congregation Church. It is reported that the Reverend B.B. James was the moderator and E. B. Williams was the clerk with fourteen people accepting the covenant. There was no report of entry or acceptance into a Congregationalist Conference or Council.
 
In April if 1907, a committee which included John Clark Finney was charged to supply the pulpit because of the resignation of Pastor James.
 
On September 25, 1907, a committee was charged to present a petition of application to the Presbytery of Baltimore for admission. In October, the Presbytery appointed a commission with power to organize the church. The following were commission member: Reverend Dewitt M. Benham, Edward Robbins, John stone, Samuel Wasson, Dr. James Frazer, Mr. Elisha Perkins and Mr. Robert H. smith. The Reverend Henry Branch was the moderator.
 
On November 7, 1907, the Forest Park Church was organized with the following Charter members: Mrs. E. H. Gibson, Mr. & Mrs. J.H, Glidea, Mrs. A. B. Harrison, Miss Clara Houston, Mrs. Sarah Houston, Mr. & Mrs. H.C. Kilmer, Mrs. Charles Warner, Mr. 7 Mrs. George Warner and Mr. & Mrs. William Webb.
 
The first congregational meeting was held at the close of the organization in which Harry C. Kilmer, George T. Warner and William A, Webb were elected as Ruling elders. The congregation met later and extended the call to Mr. John Clark Finney, a licentiate, to pastor. Mr. Finney was ordained and installed on December 12, 1907. On November 8, 1908, the building that had been erected in 1902 was formally dedicated as a Presbyterian Church.
 

Pastors who followed Pastorate of the Reverend Finney:The Reverend Charles Fader Leber, The Reverend John E. McComb, The Reverend Cameron D. Reed,The Reverend Earl Seymore Fox,The Reverend John Allen Harvey, The Reverend George H. Mendellhall Jr.

 

THE NEXT FIFTY YEARS

“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength”

On March 2, 1962, the Reverend Walter Menges, Jr. was installed to pastor Forest Park United Presbyterian Church. Many changes and challenges were presented during the 60’s but Pastor Menges was able to “wait upon the Lord with renewed strength”. He was able to “run and not be weary” and his pastorate was the longest served in the history of Forest Park Presbyterian Church.
 

During the 70’s, the congregation voted Forest Park United Presbyterian Church becoming a member of the Reformed Presbyterian Evangelical Synod. During the 80’s, the Reformed Presbyterian Church merged with the Presbyterian Church in America and during the 90’s we became Forest Park Community Church, PCA.

 

Pastors with or following Pastor Menges were: Pastor Carl Ellis Jr. Assistant (1979-1989), Pastor Stanley Long (1991-1999), Pastor Howard Brown (2001-2003), Pastor Samuel Murrell (2005-2007).

 
During the tenure of Pastor Timothy McLaurin (2008-2012) and after much prayer, in 2008, a decision was made to become a non-denominational church. Forest Park Community Church is now autonomous and maintains the right to govern its own affairs, independent of any denominational control.  However, the Bible teaches that local churches should seek voluntary fellowship with other doctrinally sound churches.  This association is to provide help and encouragement while working together as the Lord directs.  This is a voluntary association that in no way involves the surrender of the individual church’s freedom or dependence upon God.
 
 
After much prayer and an extensive search, Pastor Neal Henderson was selected and installed to Forest Park Community Church (2016 – Present). We pray that God continues to bless us and keep us according to His purpose and will.