The first fellowship, which actually was an organizational meeting was held at the Gaithersburg Community Center on June 8, 1984. Bro. James Walker and Sis. Lorine Walker participated in that initial meeting. Three weeks later, the first worship service was scheduled for July 1, at Gaithersburg High School .This site was chosen because of its convenient location to Route 355.
Rev. Poag Ray’s first sermon entitled “ Cast Out Your Net" was based on the Gospel of John, the 21st chapter, verses 1-11. The message addressed the challenge set before this small body of believers. The first three years were months of struggle, growth and challenges. However, “ blessed were these believers “who witnessed God’s authority ,His provisions , His assurance and His control.
During the fourth year, a down payment on 2 & 1/2 acres of land and a” secured loan” for both the purchase of the property and the construction of a worship facility brought us closer to our goal !! Work on the new edifice began in June 1988, and we praised God for yet another miracle. Eight months later, the First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Gaithersburg became a reality. Today it is fondly referred to as the” Miracle in Gaithersburg!"
From 1993 until 1996, Reverend Dr. Eddie Lewis William became our first full time Pastor. Under his leadership, a Prayer Ministry, Career Ministry, Tape Ministry and a Young People’s Bible Ministry was established .In addition ,Rev. Williams insisted we include the 5 Pillars of, Worship, Ministry, Discipleship, Evangelism and Fellowship in all that we did for Kingdom Building.
A change in Leadership occurred in 1996. The late Rev. Charles Smith was appointed and assigned to First. In his efforts to unite all believers, regardless of denomination, Rev. Smith implemented a series of Lenten Season Services each year. These services afforded the opportunity for both worship and fellowship with other A.M.E. Churches in this vicinity as well as other United Methodist Churches. Under Rev. Smith, the church’s theme became “ Striving for Unity of the Spirit.” With Unity as our focus and winning souls for Christ as our commission, First AME continued growing as “ The Miracle Church in Gaithersburg” .In April 2002, an additional one half acre of land on the east side of the sanctuary was acquired.
The Miracle Continued under Rev. Dr. Barbara Y. Glenn from 2,002 until 2019: With her late husband as the Assistant Pastor, this dynamic duo brought a double portion of blessings and an invigorating spirit that kept the “Miracle Church in Gaithersburg“ vibrate .Great emphasis was placed on worship, Bible Study and Christian Education.
Membership continued to grow at such a rapid pace, that an additional ( 8:00 a.m.) worship service was needed and added. Children’s church was established to allow our youth to experience not only worship but Christian learning tailored to their needs. Manifestation of a spirit filled youth ministry was also developed. Ministries for both men and women were birthed. The Women’s Ministry was designed to support and encourage women as they filled their various roles and to offer opportunities for spiritual and relational growth. The Men’s Ministry encouraged a greater male presence and participation in the life of our church.
Recognizing that as people of color, we must pay attention to our well being, a Health Ministry was created with an emphases on healthy life styles. The church newsletter was reestablished under the title “ Kingdom News” and a web site became a reality. In addition, a new ministry was born, known as C.R.R.O.S.S. ( Community Resources, Referral and Outreach Support Services.
During her” season,” God continued to enlarge our territory by allowing us to obtain more of the surrounding land. Let it be known, we are debt free of the land that extends from the parking lot to the fence line on the eastside of the sanctuary.
And now just as Elisha was a great and effective replacement for Elijah, so we have been blessed and favored, to have had the baton extended from our former pastor, to the divinely appointed Rev. Dr. Vanetta Brice, who was assigned in 2019 for such a time as this.
Since her appointment she has brought a “fresh” approach to and for ministry. A fervent prayer warrior and Bible Study teacher, she constantly engages and encourages us to seek God in prayer and in scripture so we can become strong and steady disciples of Christ. Rev. Brice’s love and deep commitment to our youth and young adults has caused one of her goals to encompass developing a strong and vibrate ministry to meet their social, emotional and spiritual needs. Not only is Rev. Brice, our shepherd, she serves as the treasurer for the Second Episcopal District and the Washington Conference.
As a certified public accountant , she has placed great emphasis on budgeting and sound financial management. In her first year, she plotted with urgency, the course for upgrades throughout our facility and media center. Rev. Brice truly believes that the “ kingdom agenda” is God’s blue print for how all of life is to be lived. With that being said, she is determined to keep her eyes and our eyes on the prize and all hands on the plow, planting seeds, turning ground that is to be nurtured and ,allowing love to shine and reign even in the midst of “ hard times.” This intense laboring will result in the manifestation and astonishing accounts of more miracles to come as the story of First A.M.E. Church of Gaithersburg continues to unfold.