Atop a steep hill in Buckeystown sits a white church. Drive up to the parking lot and the view down is picturesque — rolling hills and a large red barn.
“Sometimes people just come up here and sit,” David Fossett said.
Fossett is the pastor of Hopehill United Methodist Church, whose motto is “hope on the hill.”
Sunday will mark the 150th anniversary of the existence of the congregation and a full celebration is planned.
The story of Hopehill began in 1869 when the first congregation built a church at the cemetery on Park Mills Road just a few streets over. Some years later that building was torn down and the congregation moved into a school house.
In 1910 the plot of land atop the hill, on which the current building sits, was purchased for a simple $10.
A white church was built, and it is still standing today and used for Sunday services.
It has been through some rough patches over the years, from lightning striking the bell tower to three burglaries – one in which all the furniture of the pulpit was stolen. But it has weathered on.
“This church is surrounded by people who love the church and will support the church,” Fossett said. “The people are making sure that this church will be here.”
Debra Campbell Addison, 67, is one of three historians of Hopehill. She was baptized there as a child and has spent her entire life sitting inside the stain-glassed windows on the wooden pews.
“Oh my gosh it’s just, I’m speechless,” Addison said when asked how she feels about marking 150 years. “It’s just so much history here.”
The Sunday celebration, according to Addison and Fossett, will be a day filled with song, worship, reflection and food. Lots of food.
“At United Methodist you always eat. Remember that,” Fossett said.
Although not officially documented as a historically black church, Fossett said the congregation and community recognize it as a such. Addison said Hope Hill has served the black community of Frederick wholly since its inception and has always provided a home to those who needed it.
Addison remembers spending her entire Sundays up on the hill when she was growing up.
“Running around during the picnics ... being around family ... just a lot of memories here,” she said.
Fossett has been pastor of Hopehill for only one year, but says the anniversary is significant because it holds a larger lesson about change and modernization.
“Things can change and we can desire to have things change ... [but] this is our heritage, this is where we’ve come from,” Fossett said. “The church sometimes gets so big that it’s not personal anymore. This church is personal.”
Fossett went on to say he is humbled to mark such a historic day with the congregation and looks forward to the next 50 years.
“We see many things come and go during this period of time and yet God has kept this place fully functional,” Fossett said. “It is phenomenal ... for me it’s a whole lot of wow.”