As part of its “high potential” program to promote church extension and growth in “fast-growing, un-churched” areas of the country, the Congregational Christian Churches (now the United Church of Christ) called the Rev. John F. McClelland to establish a church in Silver Spring, MD. On September 24, 1944, 75 people met in the gymnasium of Montgomery Blair High School (then located on Wayne Avenue) to begin a new church. Silver Spring Congregational Christian Church (now CCC) was the first church in America founded under this program. Throughout its history, Christ Congregational Church has devoted its ministry and mission to promoting social justice and peace in the local, national and international community, creating opportunities for all generations in music and the arts, and fostering the spiritual development and education of children, youth, and adults.
Four Senior Ministers have provided CCC with stable and visionary leadership throughout its history. They are Rev. John F. McClelland (1944-1959); Rev. Robert E. Marston (1960-1983); and the Rev. Dr. James A. Todhunter (1984-2007). The Rev. Dr. Matthew Braddock now serves as CCC’s fourth called minister. Having served churches in New York State and Connecticut, Rev. Braddock has been serving as our Senior Minister since March, 2011.
In keeping with the pioneer spirit under which it was founded, Christ Congregational Church has been in the forefront of national and local movements to address issues of social justice. In 1957, CCC became the first church in Montgomery County to become integrated, and there is an apocryphal story of a cross burned on the church’s front lawn. Throughout its history, CCC has worked for affordable housing, created opportunities for impoverished youth and families, assisted refugees, and partnered with Christian churches in other countries to promote peace and justice. In 1991, the Rev. Dr. James A. Todhunter devoted his sabbatical to organizing the Silver Spring downtown community in efforts to help the homeless. The result was the formation of Silver Spring Community Vision, which culminated in 1995 with the opening of Progress Place, a $3.5 million center providing a range of services and programs to the homeless.
After purchasing the property at 9525 Colesville Road in 1945, the church undertook a capital campaign to raise money for a sanctuary. A ground-breaking ceremony was held on May 30, 1948, and the cornerstone was laid on October 17, 1948. Over the years, CCC built an education wing and purchased the property at 9601 Colesville Road to add additional parking. In 1954, a 22-rank Pels pipe organ from Holland was installed in the sanctuary. A comprehensive Self-Study conducted in 1996-1997 resulted in seven aspirations, one of which called CCC to “be a church that has well-designed and maintained properties adequate and appropriate for our needs.” On October 4, 1998, CCC voted in a Special Congregational Meeting to adopt a Facilities Prospectus and hire an architect who could help us attain that aspiration. That decision reaffirmed the church’s intention to remain a neighborhood church in Silver Spring.
2001-2002 Building Renovation
By March of 1999, a full-scale effort was underway to develop a Master Plan and determine the potential for undertaking a major capital campaign. The church hired the architectural firm of Ziger/Snead from Baltimore, MD to work with a Building Design Committee on the Master Plan and retained Bea Stoner, a financial development consultant with close ties to the UCC, to work with us on what became known as the Keystones Campaign: “Building Through the Spirit.” On October 3, 2009, CCC voted to adopt the Master Plan and to move forward with a capital campaign to raise $2 Million.
In 2000, CCC voted to implement the Master Plan in two phases, with the first phase focusing on four priorities:
- comply with current life safety codes
- make the building handicapped accessible
- improve parking
- install air-conditioning.
Henry H. Lewis Contractors of Baltimore was selected as the contractor, and a groundbreaking ceremony was held on April 7, 2001. By then, CCC had moved to temporary quarters in Marvin Memorial Methodist Church at Four Corners, where we remained until returning to the building on May 19, 2002.
In 2012, The congregation embarked on an ambitious capital campaign to retire the remaining debt from the building renovations. Due to the generosity of members and friends, CCC raised over $1 Million, poising us to move into the future debt free, while also raising money to repair our historic retreat house.
The Retreat House
With the purchase of the Retreat House in 1965, CCC acquired a pastoral retreat center on the Cacapon River in West Virginia. A pre-Civil War farmhouse, the Retreat House is a beloved homing beacon for generations of CCC members and families. The house was and continues to be a place for weekend retreats, summer camps, and family vacations. Among the treasures found there was an original painting by Virgil Williams, a 19th Century American artist. The painting, View of Mt. Katahdin (Maine) from the West Bank of the Penobscot River, was displayed in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Gallery of American Art until the building closed for restoration. In 2007, the church sold the painting at auction, where it was purchased by an anonymous buyer.
CLICK HERE to see the ongoing work of the Retreat House Task Force, which is working on a proposal to retool and renovate the property.
The church holds title to sixteen cemetery burial sites in Norbeck Memorial Park, Bachelors Forest Road, Olney, MD 20832. These sites were donated to the church on October 25, 1983 by Peter Noble Lombard, MD. Norbeck Memorial Park is on the east side of Georgia Avenue just north of the Inter-county Connector.These burial sites are available for interment of the remains of deceased members of the church. They are designated for single or double use, in-ground only, and are located in Block A, Lot 60, Sites 1 – 16. The church would welcome a contribution to the Endowment Fund in exchange for the right to use one or more of the burial sites. The value of the sites at the time they were gifted to the church was in the range of $800 – $900 each. The present retail market value of the sites is between $1,800 and $2,300, with those closer to a tree deemed to be more valuable than those farther from a tree. Interested parties should contact the chair of the Board of Trustees for additional information.