St. Paul’s began its 140 year history quite simply, with congregants meeting under a grove of walnut trees on the Howard County side of the Patapsco River as early as 1867. While the great flood of 1868 washed away most of Sykesville’s Howard County structures, the young congregation continued on the site. In inclement weather, Sabbath School moved into a large frame building opposite the cotton factory. Patapsco Circuit riders provided pastoral leadership.
On April 1, 1876, the young Reverend C.W. Baldwin preached his first sermon as the congregation’s new Circuit rider. He organized the construction of a church on a Howard County hillside overlooking the river and dedicated the new building on November 14, 1878. The church bell presented by Joshua and Elijah Scrivnor as a token of their love to Grace Scrivnor sounded for the first time. The building was described as a neat structure of dressed granite 46 X 20 feet and will seat 250 people. Participants crossed to Syke’s Old Mill, the Zimmerman and Schultze factory, for dinner prepared by the ladies of the congregation. A parsonage already existed on the Carroll County side of Sykesville. That parsonage was sold by the Patapsco Circuit in 1885 and later replaced with a Springfield Avenue home.
By 1889 Sykesville’s growth was occurring on the higher ground in Carroll County. The church was moved and rebuilt on its present location, facing Norwood Avenue at Church Street. The original site was given to African-American Sykesvillians, who founded St. Luke’s at the location. That strong congregation continues today.
Patapsco Circuit riders continued to serve the congregation until 1910, when St. Paul’s became a station church. Incorporation occurred on November 11, 1911. The construction of the Gaither Church in 1913 created the St. Paul’s-Gaither Charge. In 1946, St. Paul’s was again given station status and Gaither became part of a charge with the Flohrville and Marriottsville Methodist churches. Today Gaither and St. Paul’s are again united.
Main Street became Sykesville’s focal point and the sanctuary was turned to face it, with a new facade added in 1903. St. Paul’s Methodist Episcopal Church was thoroughly restored and enlarged in 1914, with today’s lovely sanctuary windows added as gifts and memorials to members of the day.
As the congregation grew, so did St. Paul’s. A 1931 addition of land allowed an expansion to include church school rooms, a social hall, and kitchen, all for a total of $18,000 in Depression-weary America.
In 1953, more land was acquired to enlarge the kitchen and church school and in 1959, land was purchased on the north side of Church Street for a parking lot. The 1990 purchase of the adjoining tin building allowed for a more complete Sunday School facility.
In 1988 a new parsonage replaced the historic home which was razed on Springfield Avenue.
A major rebuilding in 1995 kept only the original facade intact. The sanctuary was doubled in size, the kitchen was modernized, the carillon was installed, and the original 1878 bell and 1914 windows were restored and reinstalled. The 1931 pews were given to the Haight Funeral home and new pews were added. All this for the 1995 cost of $800,000.
By 2000 the burgeoning Sunday School attendance required that the tin building be razed and today’s three-story Christian Education wing was constructed, opening on March 11, 2002.
St. Paul’s has always been noted for its music. Since 1955 the choir has been under the direction of Betty Ely May, to whom the choir loft is dedicated. Also remarkable is the tenure of the most recent pastor, Roland ‘Bud’ Brown, who served the congregation from 1987 to 2013.
Pastor Terrie Rae Chattin and Assistant Pastor Doug Tzan currently serve the congregation of 500+.