History of Mt. Nebo UMC Boonsboro
Mt. Nebo, situated in the town of Boonsboro, has a good warrant for tracing its ancestry back to 1750; however, 1832 is the date of organization generally given.
The Reformed Church built a log church building about one half-mile northeast of “Boonesborough” in 1750, about 25 years before the town of Boonesborough was officially founded. The church was known as “Shonk’s Church” (probably on Mapleville Road). The settlers met and worshiped here before the Declaration of Independence was signed.
In 1780 a Reformed Church was built in Boonesborough and part of the congregation from the old church moved to the new building, leaving behind a considerable group who continued to worship in the old building. This continuing group became United Brethren and worshiped at Shonk’s Church for more than 50 years. In this old building, Rev. Phillip Otterbein, founder of the United Brethren Church, often preached. Also, Rev. Christian Newcomer and Rev. George Adam Getting, all famous members of the United Brethren Church and our church, preached there.
In 1832, the old church was abandoned and its possessions scattered. In that year, the United Brethren erected a new church in Boonsboro (the spelling of the name was changed at some point.) It was also built of logs, roughcast on the outside and situated to the rear of the present church building. (Roughcast is a coarse plaster surface used on outside walls that consists of lime and sometimes cement mixed with sand, small gravel, and often pebbles or shells.) The seats were rough and the pulpit was of the elevated “Bird’s Nest” type. The high pulpit gave the preacher the opportunity to see if anyone was sleeping! No bell was used to call the congregation together, but a shrill blast from a shepherd’s horn served that purpose. The horn still remains in the possession of Mt. Nebo.
In a letter written by Paul E. Holdcraft to Rev. Elser in 1968, he refers to a legend that he was unable to authenticate concerning the log church. According to the legend, the “old log church was used as a hospital after the battle of Antietam and the doctors (some of them amateurs) cut off arms and legs and threw them out a window until there was quite a pile of them.”
- In 1868, our present brick building was erected. It was remodeled again in 1883 and again in 1905. In 1929, a modern, well-equipped education building was added to the rear of the church auditorium at a cost of $12,000.
- In 1916, a pipe organ (which had to be pumped by hand) was installed by the Moller Organ Company of Hagerstown at a cost of $1,250.
- In 1937, our church was redecorated at a cost of $1,591, with Dr. William Wheeler paying for the renovation.
- In 1941, the organ was electrified and new carpet was installed, costing $1,828.
- In 1948, an all purpose room was built which was to be used as a social room and children’s chapel with a modern kitchen in the rear.
- In 1951, the sanctuary was completely remodeled with a Colonial design. The organ was rebuilt; a new lighting system installed; and a Cellutex ceiling, divided chancel. Chimes on the church tower were added at a cost of $15,000. The Young Men’s Bible Class donated the chimes in honor of those who served their country during World War II.
On March 8, 1959, the new educational building was dedicated. This improved facilities greatly, adding five separate departments for children, a church parlor, office for the pastor and secretary, furnace room and restroom. The Colonial portico, flagstone porch and spire were added to the church building and the old bricks were sandblasted to match the bricks on the new building. The total cost was $77,508
In 1965, the interior of the sanctuary was repainted, a new floor and carpet laid, and two public address systems were donated.
In 1967, the parking lot was black-topped at a cost of $27,000 and also the old stage was removed from the Youth Sunday School Department, which was renovated.
In November 2004, Mt. Nebo established the Mt. Nebo Christian Preschool serving approximately 20 children. (The preschool now serves approximately 250 children with before and after school programs, as well as summer programs.)
The same pastors who served the Hagerstown Circuit also served Boonsboro until 1867. The Boonsboro Circuit was constituted in 1867.
In 1946 we became Evangelical United Brethren; and in 1968 the E.U.B. merged with the Methodist Church. We then became Mt. Nebo United Methodist Church.
Mt. Nebo has remained a growing church! As pastoral charges became less transient and more settled, Mt. Nebo was part of a 4-point charge that included the Benevola, Mt. Lena and Monroe congregations. Due to our growth over the years, Mt. Nebo is now a station church and the largest United Methodist Church in the Boonsboro area.
God’s grace and blessings have been shown through the people He has provided to carry out His work. With prayer and strengthening of faith and with steadfast efforts to fulfill His purpose, the word of God will continue to spread throughout our area, and even throughout the world, by the people of Mt. Nebo.