Organized in 1875 by Samuel H. Cummings at Gilmore and Mulberry Streets, the Harlem Park Methodist Episcopal Church relocated to Harlem Park in 1880 under the leadership of John F. Goucher. The church constructed a new building in 1906 under the leadership of Rev. E.L. Watson and then moved again to Harlem Avenue and Warwick Avenue under the leadership of Rev. E.P. Fellenbaum. The new building was described:
“Gothic in design, with an auditorium seating 800 persons. In addition, there will be an educational building, equipped with 10 rooms for Sunday-school work. In the basement will be a social hall. A recreation room with bowling alleys and a lecture room that may be converted into a gymnasium also are planned.”
At a mortgage burning ceremony in 1947, Fellenbaum recalled that some criticized the project, and the $100,000 mortgage, as “Fellenbaum’s Folly.” The congregation laid the cornerstone for the new building at 4:00 PM on May 2, 1925. The Harlem Park Methodist Episcopal Church was dedicated at 3:00 PM on November 21, 1926 with Bishop William Fraser McDowell officiating.
In May 1953, the Harlem Park Methodist Church merged with the Grove Methodist Chapel, erected in 1857 on Johnnycake Road in Baltimore County, to form the Wesley Memorial Methodist Church in Catonsville, Maryland. Their building was offered for sale at $210,000. Bishop E.A. Love of the Washington Conference appointed the Reverend N.B. Carrington as the leader of the Union Memorial United Methodist Church and assisted in securing help from the Washington and Baltimore Conferences and the Board of Missions to purchase the property.
The church had previously moved from Pine and Franklin Streets to North and Madison Avenues in 1951 and had fewer than 100 members when it moved to Harlem Avenue in 1953. By the time of Rev. Carrington’s retirement in 1961, however, the church had grown to over 600 members. Carrigton began pastoring at Union Memorial United Methodist in 1952, and also worked as the supervisor of the AFRO’s pressroom. He later commented, “I married, baptized and buried many of them down there — matter of fact they call me the AFRO’s chaplain.” Commenting on the success of the church in paying off the building’s $225,000 mortgage in 8 years, Carrington noted, “Those are the kind of people we have in our congregation. They wanted to get it out of the way and they worked hard to do it.”