Penwood Christian Church marks 80 years of service
Wednesday, 14 August 2013 13:09

Jones Creek church opened doors in 1933

by John G. Bailey

    Penwood Christian Church will celebrate 80 years of Christian outreach during worship services on Sunday, Sept. 8.
    The founding of Penwood Christian Church answered a need. Times were hard during the Great Depression, and when people the Jones Creek community could not afford the trolley fare to attend church in Sparrows Point, community members established their own church in 1933.
    The Penwood church has been serving the needs of the North Point peninsula ever since.  

    Susan Hall has been attending Penwood Christian Church for 20 years.
    “In that time, the church has never said ‘no’ to anyone in need,” she recalled during a phone interview with The Eagle. “Whenever there’s a need, the church is there.”
    In the past year, the church has supplied donated furniture for seven homes. A clothes closet for children and adults is open all year and an on-call food pantry is also available.     Donations from members support the Dundalk-based Family Crisis Center for victims of domestic abuse and the Covenant House for runaway and homeless youth.
    Members also support Sheri Nuñez, a missionary who works with the poor in Mexico. 
    Called “The Little White Church” by early members — a reference to the hymn of the same name — Penwood has a history of self-reliance that reflects its status as an independent organization.
    The original land and the two additional properties that now comprise the church were all obtained through member donations. The church, the Sunday school and the clothes pantry that occupy the properties were built by members of the congregation.
    Reminders of the church’s longevity show the congregation’s cohesion and the institution’s stablity. The steeple bell was donated in 1933 by Bernard Foulke, who owned a nearby farm, and the pulpit in use today was made by founding pastor the Rev. C.D. Melton.
    Hall said she was attracted to  what she called “the little country church” atmosphere of Penwood Christian Church 20 years ago after her former church closed.
    “It is a very humble church,” she told The Eagle. “People don’t care what you wear to Sunday services. As soon as you walk in the door [for worship service], you feel like family. New visitors are treated like kings or queens.”
    The tight-knit congregation also helps explain the appeal of Penwood Christian Church.
    “We work together as a group,” said Hall. “Everybody supports everybody else. When someone has a problem,  everyone gets involved to take care of it.”              
     “The church is my social life,” she added.
    Church membership is currently “around 40,” according to Hall, with an approximate parity between younger and older members. A block party to attract more youths to the Sunday School program is planned for Saturday,  Sept. 7, from noon to 3 p.m.
    Other special events throughout the year include the Valentine’s Day dinner, an Easter Egg hunt, the Mother/Daughter/Friend banquet in May and the corresponding Father/Son/Friend banquet in the fall and the spring and fall festivals.
    But for Hall, the highlight of the year are the flea markets, which she says are always well-attended. “All three properties [of the church] are filled with donated items for sale that were not given away.”