In August 1870, a deed was given by Mr. And Mrs. Allen Dorsey for a lot consisting of one acre of land to build a Methodist Protestant Church. The organization of the church took place under the leadership of the Rev. John Roberts, who was in charge of the circuit to which it became a part. The church building was begun in the fall of 1870. Rev. James Thompson was appointed to this charge at the spring session of the Maryland conference and under his guidance, the church building was completed in 1871. Captain Hiram Woodward, a master mechanic who lived in the neighborhood, was the builder and took an unusual interest in the work. The church building consisted of one room with a balcony located in the back of the room over the Narthex. All services were conducted in that one room as well as seven or eight Sunday School Classes. The room was heated by two potbelly stoves filled with wood or coal.
The church became a part of the Howard Circuit consisting of nine churches. Following a succession of five pastors from the years 1873 until 1885 the Howard Circuit was divided by leaving four churches on the Howard Circuit and five churches were placed on the Lisbon Circuit with the parsonage located at Lisbon. During the years of 1881-91 the cemetery adjoining the church was started under the charge of the Rev. J. L. Kilgore. Ironically, Captain Hiram Woodward, the builder of the church, was the first one to be buried there.
During the appointment of the Rev. C. P. Nowlin, 1905-10, metal sheeting was placed on the walls and ceiling. This was also the time when the parsonage at Lisbon was sold and a new one built in Poplar Springs. During the Rev. P.M.R. Schaur’s appointment, 1925-26, the circuit was again divided and the parsonage sold. The present parsonage was built during the appointment of the Rev. J. F. Wooden, 1927-34. In 1940, the Methodist Protestant Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church joined to become the Methodist Church.
In 1946, a meeting was called of all church cemetery lot holders to organize an association. Within the year it was chartered with the Ste of Maryland as the Poplar Springs Cemetery Association. This group still meets the first Saturday in April to conduct the business of the association.
In 1953, being crowded for room, an addition was built onto the original building. The steeple and Carillon bells had been added in 1949. The builders were Floyd Buck, Leland Pickett and Claude Ecker. The cost of the addition was approximately $2,000.00. At this time the old potbellied stoves were removed and new oil fired heating system was installed in both the old and new buildings. A new Hammond Electric Organ was purchased during this time. Some of the elder people of the church objected to going into debt for an organ at this time due to the fact that the contract for the addition was already in progress. But there was a large dedicated group of young people in the choir and they worked very hard raising donations, having bake sales, etc. and in a surprisingly short time the organ was paid for.
Poplar Springs Church started sponsoring a Boy Scout Troop and Explorer Post in January 1957. This was a good thing for the community as it was made up with boys from seven other churches as well as our own. The troop is still in existence. It is a very active group and the church continues to sponsor it. In 2008, the troop celebrated its 50th anniversary with a service and luncheon at the church.
In 1960, a double doorway was cut into the church sanctuary from the Narthex. A wide center aisle was constructed to take the place of the two aisles, as was in the original plan of the church. Many items have been given as memorials to the church. All add much to the beauty of the church, but the stained glass windows stand out most to our visitors.
Still needing more room, in 1962 a little house and lot adjoining the church were purchased. This house was used for Sunday School classes and other meetings. In March 1962, the Lisbon Church left the circuit, which reduced the circuit to Poplar Springs and Jennings Chapel Churches only.
The congregation continued to grow until in 1965, during the appointment of Rev. Harry T. Baxter, Poplar Springs again built another addition to the building. This new addition included a kitchen, bathrooms, social hall and three classrooms. The builder was Herman Gillis. The Woman’s Society of Christian Service (WSCS) was a great help in furnishing dishes and cooking utensils for their new modern kitchen.
In 1968, the Methodist Church joined with the Evangelical United Brethren Church to become the United Methodist Church. Shortly thereafter, Poplar Springs Church changed its name to Poplar Springs United Methodist Church.
Near the beginning of the Twentieth Century, women of the church organized for the purpose of raising funds to serve the needs of the Church, and parsonage. Eventually this became the “Ladies’ Aid society”. In the year 1935, an Auxiliary Missionary Society was organized within the Society to raise funds for Home and Foreign Missions. Soon after the divisions of the Methodist Church were united, the members of the Ladies’ Aid Society met, under the guidance of the Rev. James Baxley, to for the Woman’s Society of Christian Service. Through the years this Woman’s society never forgot the needy, aged or ill of our church and community. Funds for church needs and community projects were financed through the proceeds from suppers and sales.
In the early 1970’s the circuit (now known as the Charge) decided to begin a Thrift Shop and offer the community the opportunity to purchase used clothes and other items. The women of the charge run this shop with proceeds going to many missions, such as Grass Roots, the Frederick Rescue Mission, Maryland food Bank and repairs on the parsonage. The Thrift Shop opened in the I.O.G.T. Hall in Poplar Springs. Over the years the shop has moved to the basement of the building the crossroads of Route 94 and 144 and then to the basement of a building in Lisbon. In 1993, the small house adjacent to Poplar Springs Church became vacant. It was decided that this house would be a perfect spot for the Thrift Shop. Members of the Charge worked on the house to repair it and make it ready for business. In June 1994, the Thrift Shop moved into its present and hopefully permanent residence.
A truly wonderful tradition is what started as a “Sunday School Picnic” on the Saturday closest to July 4. It began as a fried chicken dinner “on the grounds” and has evolved to a picnic for the community featuring good food, the Browningsville Coronet Band and games for the children.
In June 1987, the floor of the sanctuary was found to be too weak and unsafe for use. Termites had plagued the church for several years previously and had destroyed the floor joists. The sanctuary was closed and worship services were conducted in the social hall. This was a time of concern due to the destruction by the termites but it soon became a time for rejoicing as the community and the congregation worked together to completely remove the flooring and the old floor joists. New joists were donated and installed. The hard wood floor was replaced using most of the old boards. The price of this job was $14,935.92 but due to free labor and donated items all that was paid out was $6,638.92. On November 1, the sanctuary was reopened and rededicated with thanks to Leroy Stull and many others in the community who invested many hours of work.
The metal roof was deteriorating and in June of 2000 it was replaced with fiberglass shingles. The congregation and the community once again came together to donate money for this task. Over $19,000.00 was raised for this replacement.
Over the years the building has been updated and repaired when needed. A new front door was installed in 1998, as was a handicap ramp.
Emily Pickett Miller established a Gazebo and Prayer Garden in 2005 as a memorial to Clarence, Katherine and Edwin Pickett with a fund to maintain them. A dedication was held and many members of this family returned to Poplar Springs for this event.
Our missions have been varied. In 1990, some of our youth and adults went to Camp Hope and started an annual trip to Frostburg University for youth and adults to help those less fortunate. Following the devastation by Hurricane Hugo, the Charge was able to collect a tractor-trailer load of supplies to send to Florida. Our youth have also traveled to Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Virginia to work on mission projects. In 2005 Ann and Connie Horner traveled to Russia to work in orphanages. In 2006 and 2007 mission teams were sent to Mississippi to aid in the clean up following Hurricane Katrina.