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What’s Up with the Greenbelt Community Church

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Greenbelt Community ChurchNext up in the blog series about Greenbelt’s “houses of worship” is the Greenbelt Community Church (GCC) in the heart of Old Greenbelt.

History, and Lots of Greenbelt Connections

The GCC, a member church of the United Church of Christ, was one of the first churches in the new town of Greenbelt, opening in 1951, and it’s been a big part of the community ever since.  For example, in 1968, it hosted, with St. Hugh’s Catholic Church, 700 members of the Poor People’s March on their way to Washington, D.C.  Over 150 volunteers provided food, medicine, and cots to the marchers.  It’s also had a long partnership with the Mishkan Torah Synagogue and even contributed to a new roof and organ repair for the Synagogue.  (Curious about this strong bond, I learned that the GCC’s Rev. Hamlin is good friends with Rabbi Cohen.)

The church generously hosts regular meetings of the Girl and Boy Scouts, Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-Step meetings (while Greenbelt’s Step Club is experiencing prolonged renovations), yoga classes, and more.  And then there are their regular events throughout the year, some of which are popular with Greenbelt’s residents generally, not just church members.

Members

GCC member Carol Griffith, who chatted with me about the church, estimates the membership at about 220 people.  She says that many, like herself, grew up Catholic and have been drawn to the GCC for its “lack of dogma” and the fact that it’s “extremely oriented to social justice.”  I understand that among Christian denominations, the United Church of Christ is one of the most liberal.

Carol emphasized the church’s “open and affirming of everyone,” citing inclusiveness as a “big deal” at GCC, definitely including the LGBTQ community.  That’s made clear in its Statement of Purpose:  “We acknowledge the history and confusion of the institutional church in condemning and excluding lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered persons, and in condoning such discrimination by its silence.  We commit ourselves to work to end such oppression and discrimination.”

j2Events

This Sunday is the SouperBowl of Caring, a Church World Service fundraiser that occurs on Super Bowl Sunday, with food and funds collected going to ease hunger in our area.  And on President’s Day Weekend the church holds an annual Progressive Dinner to break the winter’s “cabin fever” with another chance to socialize. Three courses are held in three different member’s houses, so that the entourage “progresses” from one course and home to the next.

Most years in the spring, the Octtava Piano Duo performs at the Greenbelt Community Church.  In the summer there are Baysox Baseball outings and a Luau.

The church’s most visible event is their Labor Day Luncheon on Lawn.  The Labor Day parade travels up Crescent Road right past the church. Immediately following the parade, the church sets up tables and chairs on its lawn and serves a luncheon, priced reasonably.  Fifteen percent of funds raised goes to the Labor Day Committee and the remainder is collected by the church as one of its annual fundraisers. I’m told the event attracts lots of residents, including members of our City Council.

Blessing of the Animals at Greenbelt Community Church

 

There’s also the annual Blessing of the Animals, which may be fine for ducks and dogs but I know my cats would be as panicked as this one on the right appears to be.

Click here for the whole packed calendar of events, including celebrations for parts of the Christian calendar (Lent, Christmas, Easter) plus a Thanksgiving Interfaith Service..

Social Action through More Events

Crop Walk with Greenbelt Community Church

The Crop Walk (above) that takes place the first Sunday in May is a sponsored walk around Lake Artemesia in College Park, with money and canned food donations going to Help by Phone of Prince George’s County to alleviate hunger locally and Church World Service to alleviate hunger worldwide.

The GCC cooperates with Greenbelt Pottery to raise money to support food banks, soup kitchens, and other hunger-fighting organizations through the Empty Bowls event.  Potters create original ceramic bowls, and the church serves a meal of soup and bread.  This popular event always sells out.

GCC youth also participate in the renowned Heifer Project.

Dan Hamlin, retired pastor of Greenbelt Community Church

Church in Transition, Attempting to Replace Dan Hamlin

Pastor Dan Hamlin retired in 2012 after 28 years at the helm of the GCC, and the church is taking its time fending a replacement.  Actually, that’s the established procedure for United Church of Christ congregations, which sends interim pastors like Clara Young, whose job it is to help GCC members find their new pastor.  Hamlin is now on a social mission with the Church World Service, and recently spoke to at Mishkan Torah about the Lessons from Vietnam, where he’s visited with vets of the U.S. war there.

Church photo credit.

 

Follow Susan Harris:
Susan started blogging about Greenbelt soon after moving here in 2012, and that first blog has grown into this nonprofit community website. Retired from garden writing and teaching, she continues to blog at GardenRant.com. In 2021 Susan joined the Board of Directors of Greenbelt Access TV. Susan launched the video blog "Susan's Hoop Dancing Journey" after trying hula hooping during the 2022 Crazy Quilt Music Festival.

  1. Tim Finn
    | Reply

    I’m trying to find Rev. Sherry Taylor. She was a co-pastor with her husband at Greenbelt Community Church in 1980. She officiated at mine and my ex-wife’s wedding.

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