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Mount Carmel in Sunshine, St. Paul in Laytonsville merge into one church –

by Terri Hogan

Senior Staff Writer

Mount Carmel United Methodist Church, a tiny church with a long history in the Sunshine community, recently merged with St. Paul United Methodist Church in Laytonsville.

The Rev. Jean Lee, who has been the pastor of both churches for four years, said the membership of Mount Carmel has fluctuated over the years, but was on the decline.

At the time of the merger, there were 12 members, she said.

Lee said some pastors are assigned to one larger church, while others may be assigned two smaller churches.

She said there are so many United Methodist churches that it is not unusual to see the small ones close.

The two churches, located just four miles apart, often held joint services.

“We are really a family,” said Lee. “Rarely do you find two churches that get along so well.”

Because of that connection, Lee said came up with the idea of a merger.

“It was something that we had been thinking about for the past two years,” she said. “Both churches were on board.”

The Mount Carmel Church council in in November officially decided to merge with St. Paul. The Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church approved the merger and the churches officially combined as of Jan. 1.

The Sunshine property, at the corner of New Hampshire (Route 650) and Georgia (Route 97) avenues, was for sale at press time.

Lee said The Baltimore-Washington Conference owns all of the church properties. Typically, when a church is sold, the conference gets the money. In this case, however, the funds will go to St. Paul.

Lee said the merger brings vitality.

“Mount Carmel has a lot of resources, funding and membership,” she said. “More people make a better church.”

According to the Montgomery County Historical Society, the church family began at Mount Carmel Methodist Episcopal Church in Triadelphia, not far from Sunshine. Begun in 1809, the town of Triadelphia eventually became a bustling community, boasting, among other things, a busy cotton mill, grist mill, stone quarry, saw mill, bank, homes, stables and the Methodist Episcopal Church.

The little town is now lost under the waters of Triadelphia Lake at Brighton Dam.

But in the fall of 1858, Mount Carmel Methodist Protestant Church was built just north of Sunshine on property where Mount Carmel Cemetery is now located, on Mount Carmel Cemetery Road.

In 1928, the church was relocated to Sunshine, at the crossroads of New Hampshire and Georgia avenues.

St. Paul is located 21720 Laytonsville Road.

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