Hughes Memorial celebrates 90 years
Established by some of the area’s most prominent pioneering families, Hughes Memorial Presbyterian Church marks its 90th anniversary this year.
The church was organized on Feb. 20, 1927, when
several local families with familiar names —among them Merritt, Lynch, Norris and Graff — sought to establish a Presbyterian church in a shuttered MethodistEpiscopal church on North Point Road.
The families recruited a young pastor from Highlandtown, the Rev. David Hughes, to their cause. The small church, then named North Point Presbyterian Church, began to hold services.
It was just months after the church’s founding, on April 24, 1927, that Rev. Hughes unexpectedly died. The church was quickly renamed as Hughes Memorial Presbyterian Church in his honor.
Through the decades that followed the church fought through lean times during the Great Depression and World War II before securing its first full-time pastor in 1946.
The years that followed would be a time of growth for the church. In 1958, construction began on a new church building on two lots purchased on Sparrows Point Road in Edgemere. That same year longtime pastor, the Rev. Ira W. Marshall, Jr. was installed at Hughes Memorial.
Under Rev. Marshall’s tenure, which ran until 1997, the church prospered, growing to 200 members.
By 2005, the church was again facing tough times with declining attendance and income. Church elders, realizing that the church could not afford a full-time pastor, reached out to bivocational pastor/elevator mechanic, the Rev. Dr. Leonard Hornick.
Rev. Hornick describes himself as a “tentmaking” minister — i.e., an individual dedicated to preaching while supporting themselves fi- nancially by working outside of the church. The term is derived from St. Paul, who spread the Gospel while also working as a tentmaker.
The arrangement worked perfectly for both Hornick and the church.
“Part of the reason some churches are closing is the expense of paying a pastor,” Hornick explained.
He noted, “I was able to be the right type of minister that the church could use.”
Hornick worked full-time outside of the church while preaching three out of four Sundays at Hughes Memorial. Now retired from his fulltime job, he continues this schedule. A guest preacher comes in on the fourth Sunday.
While Hornick leads the church in spiritual matters, the business matters are overseen by a group of church elders, among them Glen Meyer and his son Dale.
A member since 1947, Glen, who will turn 91 next month, became an elder in 1957. His son, Dale, grew up in the church.
“I played with my Tonka trucks while they built the church,” Dale recalled.
The Meyer family is wellestablished in the church, boasting four generations of members.
“We have a special pew,” Glen said.
Dale added, laughing, “Fifth pew on the right.”
The Meyers are among 45 members current on church rolls. Approximately 50 people attend services at the church each week.
The church, though small, is heavily focused on service to the wider community.
Among Hughes’ missions is Soles for Souls, which collects shoes for those in need, and collecting toiletries for Baltimore’s Helping Up Mission, a faith-based recovery service for men suffering from homelessness and addiction.
The church also collects backpacks and food for chil- dren in need at Edgemere Elementary, which sits directly across the street from the church, and donates to the St. Luke Catholic Church food pantry as well.
Hughes Memorial also reaches out to other local churches and the wider community through Cross Walks held each Good Friday, a popular annual roast beef dinner hosted at the church and through its longtime sponsorship of Boy Scout Troop 427, which has produced at least 71 Eagle Scouts since 1945.
The church has found itself growing stronger as its emphasis on service has grown.
“We’re growing,” Glen said, noting, “It seems the more we give, the more we get.”
He added, “I think it’s through our emphasis on giving that we’re getting back.”
In recent years, the church has done significant improvements to its building, including the addition of stones out front and a walkway in the rear — both Eagle Scout projects completed by members of the church’s troop.
The church has also updated the décor and added air conditioning and chair lifts to make the building completely handicappedaccessible.
While the congregation may be small, Hughes is a church characterized by close ties.
“Size doesn’t matter,” said Hornick. “This church is vibrant; it’s healthy. It does outreach. It does missions.”
“It’s a tight-knit church,” he added. “Everybody knows everybody.”
Glen noted, “[Services] start at 10:30 a.m. At 10:15, people are already lined up in the back talking.”
In celebration of its 90th anniversary, the church plans to hold a dinner for its members on Saturday, Oct. 28, followed by a service — open, as always, to members of the public, on Sunday, Oct. 29.
Hughes Memorial Presbyterian Church, at 3010 Sparrows Point Road in Edgemere, holds services each Sunday at 10:30 a.m., with additional services held for holidays and special events throughout the year.
Sunday school is held prior to services from 9:45 to 10:15 a.m.
For more, contact the church at 410-477-3711.
Hughes Memorial Presbyterian Church’s past pastor, the Rev. Ira W Marshall Jr., with present pastor, the Rev. Dr. Len Hornick.
Hughes today, at 3010 Sparrows Point Road. The church moved to its current location 50 years ago.