In 1790 a plot of land was bought for five shillings and the first log church was built for the Goshen Methodist church. In about 1830 the second church was built. This one was brick and quite something in that day. In the fall of 1870 the third Goshen church was started and it was dedicated in June of 1871. It had two kerosene chandeliers that hung from the ceiling and two that stood on each side of the pulpit. There was a balcony which had only an outside entrance for the black folks. Up until December 10, 1950, this church was a Methodist church, but on that Sunday it was dedicated under the auspices of the Eastern Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities.
In 1949 Menno Sell and a few people started meeting in the Woodman Hall in Laytonsville, Maryland. The last Sunday in April of 1949 was the beginning of a "new day" for many in the vicinity of Laytonsville. Laytonsville was a small town in a farm area located about thirty-five miles north of Washington D.C. Many in this area have come from Virginia and Tennessee to work on tenant farms and other trades. Among these were a number of Mennonites from the Virginia conference. These people were without a place to worship for a number of years except for a short period when the Cottage City Church held meetings in a schoolhouse about three miles from Laytonsville. Due to lack of interest on the part of the community, this was again dropped. The Woodman Hall was rented for $5.00 a Sunday and Sunday School started with preaching whenever possible. Twenty-nine people were present the first Sunday with real interest shown. This interest kept growing, so a Summer Bible School was held with an average attendance of thirty-four. They say that it was no problem to get people to sit in the front in the winter time because that is where the heat was. Bro. John Hess, mission board field worker, then held a series of meetings with a number of people being won to the Lord, and one Mennonite family being reclaimed. One other Mennonite family was interested from the start and is still faithful.
Seeing that most of the Mennonites were satisfied in other churches or had lost out entirely, an effort was made to reach the un-churched. A funeral coach was purchased and remodeled by one of our brethren to haul children together. This was used until it was worn out, and then the mission board made it possible for us to have a bus to continue this work.
The work grew and in January 1950, our bishop, Noah Risser, appointed Bro. Amos Myer of Mummausburg, Pennsylvania, as overseer of the work. This worked out well, and in the spring of 1950, the mission board appointed Bro. Myer as superintendent.
Again a Summer Bible School was held with an average attendance of Seventy-eight. During this Bible school, a group of teachers were out visiting pupils and discovered a little church among the larger oaks about one and on-half miles from Laytonsville. After some investigation, we found that it had been closed for twelve years and was kept as a shrine. Two other groups had tried to rent it and were turned down. We were told by the treasurer of the group that we had only a ghost of a chance to rent it, and it might be a long time before we received and answer. The Spirit of the Lord began working and the next day we received our answer. Their board was ready to meet with our board. Representatives of Eastern Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities came down almost immediately and talked it over. A little later a group came down again and drew up the agreement. Praise God for a mission board that was active.
Prayer changes things! It changed the old time stoves to a modern oil heating system. How? The mission board felt it unwise to spend $1200.00 for a heating plant but would give us $300.00 for two new space heaters. Our group prayed about it and the Lord answered. A brother got us the oil furnace at a discount. Two other brethren installed it free of charge. A fourth brother donated the oil tank. The total cost was $680.00. The mission board gave us the $300.00, we had $170.00 in our building fund, a sister gave us a check for $200.00, and a brother gave us $10.00. This totaled the $680.00 we needed.
Prayer changed oil lights into electric lights also. The cost was estimated at $225.00. This time the Lord worked through voluntary service. He sent a brother, Wilmer Hunsecker, from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, to wire the church; the only charge was about $85.00 for the material.
Another series of meetings followed the 1950 summer Bible school with Bro. Hess as evangelist. About that time a congregation was organized. It was comprised of the workers and former Virginia Conference members transferring their membership here. Several were also added by baptism. Again in 1951, the Lord answered through voluntary service and the interior of the church was redecorated at a cost of less than $200.00.
In November of 1950, we rededicated the building with impressive services and a full house took place. This was the old Methodist church that was described in the beginning of this article.
In December of 1950, votes were taken for the ordination of a minister with all votes being cast for one brother. On December 31, 1950, Menno Sell was ordained to the ministry.
In the spring of 1951, Bro. Myer, was relieved as superintendent of the work, but we still considered Bro. Myer a counselor and spiritual father to us.
During the summer of 1951 we held our third Bible School with an average attendance of ninety-two. We also had a third series of meetings.
The attendance of Sunday School kept increasing to the point where more workers were needed. God supplied this need by sending us five young people from the Hagerstown area, who drove about fifty-two miles to help each Sunday. This proved to be a great blessing.
A prayer concern for some time was for more workers to move on the field and this was answered in a providential way. One of our summer Bible school teachers seemed quite interested in the work, and after she married we asked her and her husband to locate here. They were Marvin and Alma Swartzentruber, former workers at the Vine Street Mission in Lancaster.
We also felt led to ask Wilmer and Dorothy Hunsecker of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, to move in and assist us. We had first become acquainted with Wilmer when he put in the lights under voluntary service. The John Peachy and Arthur Torkelson families moved in also.
Menno Sell was instrumental in starting the Gaithersburg and Dawsonville congregations. And so three churches were planted in this area. It was during this time that the Mt. Airy congregation was started and Irvin Martin Sr. was ordained for that church.
Menno Sell served as Pastor of the Goshen Mennonite Church until April 1976 when Lee Mummau was installed as Pastor. He served with a ministerial license until November 6, 1977 when he was ordained. Alvin Gehman was ordained Deacon April 23, 1983, and served until September 17, 2006, when Charles Kline IV was ordained Deacon and served until March 2009. In the summer of 2004 the congregation asked Ezra Maust (who was previously ordained in December 7, 1987 at another congregation) to help with the preaching and in the fall of 2006 he was officially installed as Associate Pastor and served until March 2009. Lee Mummau served as Pastor until March 8, 2009 when Ezra Maust was installed as Pastor, Charles Kline IV was ordained as Associate Pastor, and Alvin Clemons Jr. was ordained as Deacon.
If you come to visit us, you will get a warm Christian welcome. Human nature here at Goshen is the same as in other parts of the country, but so is the joy, strength, and victory we find in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our members have occupations that include various professional and blue collar positions. We welcome and value people of all walks of life to worship our risen Saviour with us. We preach and teach the Word of God as infallible truth, to be lived on a daily basis.
The church building is not in a farm community anymore. The field across the way is full of $700,000 + homes now. The house beside the church was for sale in the 1975 for $90,000, but was sold for around $225,000 a number of years ago, and would be valued at the 3/4 million or more price range. So most of the people live outside of the community.
Goshen Mennonite is a spiritually growing church, striving to live the example Jesus Christ set for us. Pray for us as we walk this journey, called life.
Written 1996 - Menno and Clara Sell - Wayne and Ida Smith - Lee and Joyce Mummau Revised 2009 -Ezra and Darlene Maust