"If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all and servant to all" (Mark 9:35).
Old Sterling Church built in 1897 demolished
A group of Sterling citizens and business people calling themselves “SOS,” or “Save Old Sterling” have been working for much of the past year to preserve what little remains of the old town of Sterling, once known as Guilford.
So when the demolition of the Old Sterling United Methodist Church appeared imminent, SOS focused on salvaging valuable and architecturally significant elements of the church as the only way to preserve any remnant of it. The goal is to incorporate these elements in new building construction in the Old Sterling neighborhood, possibly as pieces of art, in an attempt to memorialize the heritage that is now being lost forever.
The materials are now stored in a well-protected container in Sterling until a reuse can be found that is worthy of the integrity that the items represent. The organization is actively working to achieve that goal.
SOS strongly urges anyone who is interested in Old Sterling’s fading past to take a drive down West Church Road, either from Route 28 or Sterling Boulevard, to Ruritan Circle. There you can visit the revived Guilford Baptist Church (now the Ethiopian Orthodox Church), see the remnants of the Old Sterling Methodist Church, the timeworn homes and other remaining historic buildings that reside near the bike path that once was the railway that first brought prosperity to this Eastern Loudoun town.
History and Future of Sterling United Methodist Church
“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” (Ephesians 4:15)
Sterling United Methodist Church continues to flourish on 304 East Church Road.
The Sterling United Methodist Church (SUMC) was established in 1875 as the Methodist Church in Guilford. It occupied a one-room building that was also used as a public school located at 1101 W. Church Road. In 1879, the building and one acre of land was purchased for $200 to be used as a church. In 1890, the name of the community was changed from Guilford to Sterling, thus the name of the church was changed to Sterling Methodist Church. In March 1897, the church burned to the ground and a new building was soon erected on the same site. This church served as the sanctuary for the congregation until 1983.
For 108 years, Sterling Methodist Church remained a part of a circuit which often numbered as many as nine churches. In the early 1960’s Broyhill and Sons purchased several farms and built what is now known as Sterling Park. Instead of beginning a new congregation in this community, the Northern Virginia Methodist Board of Missions assisted in meeting the challenge of growth.
In June of 1963, the first unit of a projected master plan of six buildings was constructed. Sterling became a station church in 1963 and was assigned a full-time minister. The church continued to grow and in 1968 a new Sunday-School building was dedicated. Because of restructuring within the entire Methodist Church, the name was changed to Sterling United Methodist Church.
On October 12, 1975 SUMC celebrated 100 years of service to the Sterling community. Growth continued and on March 13, 1983 SUMC broke ground for a new building. On October 30, 1983 SUMC deconsecrated the old building and then moved into the first phase of the new building at 304 East Church Road on November 20, 1983.
Again growth dictated the need for additional space and an architect was secured for preparing plans for phases two and three of the SUMC building program. The drawings were approved in June 1987. A new Sanctuary and additional classrooms were dedicated in May 1992.
In 2016 and 2017 SUMC is in the process of renewing the interior of the church building to accommodate the needs of their growing congregation and to improve the facility for new ministry outreach.
SUMC is dynamic, welcoming congregation with more than 1,200 members and a history that goes back 142 years to a one-room schoolhouse. SUMC maintains a strong, well established and professionally staffed children's and youth ministries. Many of the congregation cite that it has a real "church family feel." The Youth Ministry is a great place for teens and the number of local, national, and international missions the parishioners participate in is quite remarkable. They truly practice, "Love God, love your neighbor."
Today, Sterling United Methodist Church is a vibrant, active congregation that is engaged in ministry to God’s people, both here in our community and around the globe. SUMC strives to nurture children, grow and mature their youth, disciple adults, care for those who are hurting, love their neighbor and serve God’s world. Indeed, Sterling United Methodist Church is a Church for Life.
SUMC offers worship services at 8:15, 9:30 and 11:00 AM every Sunday.
8:15 AM - Wesley Worship Service with Communion
9:30 AM - Traditional Worship Service with organ music and Choir
11:00 AM - Contemporary Worship Service with Praise Band
11:00 AM - Amigos Service (in Spanish) - held in Gallihugh Hall
Ethiopian Orthodox Church flourishes in Sterling
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