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Part 1 - Our Story

The Gold Stars of Clarendon United Methodist Church

Part 1 - Our Story by Jon H. Larimore

Presented on November 17th, 2006, as a part of our year-long celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Clarendon United Methodist Church.

When a bible reading ends, and we hear "The word of God for the people of God", we gratefully respond "Thanks be to God!" But let's think for a moment . . . just who are these "People of God"? You and me? Perhaps. All of God's children—everyone living now and everyone who has ever lived? Possibly. Then again, maybe not. What, exactly, distinguishes the "People of God"? How do we recognize them? Well, let's consider one possibility. Let's now take a risky journey together, as we consider just who has made our lives and our church what they are this minute. It's risky, because compressing a century into a few minutes isn't easy, and along the way, we might fail to mention each and every important person. But as we'll soon discover, that doesn't really matter. Today our average lifespan is 78 years - 78 years to do something important - something memorable. But One Thousand Nine Hundred and Six years after Christ's birth, in 1906, the average human lifespan was only 47 years. That was the year Henry Ford created his first assembly line, but every bit as important are the people who shape our days and our futures in ways less grandiose than Ford. Personally. Profoundly. Chances are that we'll enjoy no national holidays in honor of those folks. They'll get no entries in Wikipedia. Their names will never appear in a school exam. But their lives have influenced ours in ways they may never have guessed, as they find a place in our hearts. In that year Ford built his factory, Arlington Virginia was a rural farm town. Roads were unpaved, nickelodeans offered silent films, radio was a fascinating curiosity, families who could afford one had a player piano in the parlor, horses pulled the milkman's wagon to our doors each morning, and on average, folks living then had 30 years less than we do today to make their lives meaningful. But they did it anyway. Crucial to the beginnings of CUMC was . . . a pair of "Overalls". More correctly, Mr. and Mrs. William and Martha Overal. It was in their home that a small group of Arlingtonians who felt the need to worship God as a Sunday School class had been meeting since 1901. Five years later, those eleven folks took a leap of inspired faith, and began construction of our first church—The Methodist Episcopal Church South, Georgetown District, Baltimore Conference. Shortly thereafter, with twenty initial members, a beautiful but modest structure in a rural neighborhood at the corner of North Jackson and North Irving Streets became reality. During the century to follow, many notable events and many especially selfless and generous individuals have further strengthened our faith. From Rev. William Ballengee in 1906, through our most recent ministers—Rev. "Buzz" Moore, Rev. Joe Williams, Rev. Bob Stamps, Rev. Glen Evans - and Rev. Gene Thomas, more than 42 pastors and associate pastors—men and women of God—have inspired our congregation from this pulpit. And during that time, more than 9 new ministers have been called and supported through CUMC.


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