Good Hope Presbyterian Church was formally organized as a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) on November 22, 1992. On that Sunday morning in the gymnasium of Spencerville Junior Academy in Burtonsville, Maryland, 44 adults and 38 children agreed to “walk together as an organized church,” which we’ve been doing ever since.
Good Hope really began some 8 years earlier, as an outgrowth of Wallace Presbyterian Church in Hyattsville, Maryland. Wallace has a long history of faithful witness and work for Christ. Wallace also has a long history of church planting in the Washington DC area. However, in the 1970s, with its parent denomination growing less faithful to the Scriptures, Wallace was reluctant to undertake new church plants for fear that they would be subverted. After Wallace’s transition from its prior parent denomination to the PCA in 1980, she felt freer to plant churches in the northern Maryland suburbs, where a good portion of her members lived.
In 1985, Wallace undertook an effort to plant a congregation in the Spencerville or Burtonsville area. A group of Wallace members, bearing the imaginative name of “Wallace North,” began meeting for Sunday morning services at Spencerville Junior Academy in May 1987. The group prospered, drawing many relatives and friends from the area. Eric Huber, then a recent graduate of the University of Maryland, worked as a pastoral assistant, developing the work. Wallace’s senior pastor at the time, O. Palmer Robertson, would preach each Sunday at 9:30am at Wallace North, then travel to the main campus of Wallace in Hyattsville to preach again at 11:00am. The group quickly outgrew its first meeting room at the Academy and began meeting in the Academy’s gymnasium, which, while larger, was less than ideal in acoustics and appearance.
The original intention was that Wallace North would not be organized as a separate congregation, but would remain as part of Wallace Presbyterian. Some of Wallace’s officers were attending Wallace North and took responsibility for the affairs of that group, while continuing to serve as officers for all of Wallace. Wallace North had no Sunday evening service, nor other meetings that conflicted with Wallace’s, in order to allow Wallace North members to also participate in the mother church to the south. The rationale was that Wallace North could draw strength of numbers, programs, and finances from Wallace, and eventually could contribute. Over time, this “collegiate model” didn’t seem to work well. The new members of Wallace North never became integrated with Wallace as a whole, and the officers of Wallace Main and Wallace North found themselves increasingly consumed with their local concerns.
In 1991, the ruling elders involved with Wallace North determined to see if the Wallace North group would support a move to become a particular church. Although not unanimously, the group voted overwhelmingly to support such a move. The Session of Wallace Presbyterian was understanding and indeed made a generous gift that enabled the fledgling Good Hope to be financially independent from her beginning.
The chief concern of the elders, indeed of all the prospective members, was to secure a godly and capable pastor as soon as possible. Accordingly, a search committee was formed, and a tentative call was extended to Jack Waller before Good Hope was organized. On November 22, 1992, Good Hope Reformed Presbyterian Church was formally organized (and its name later simplified to Good Hope Presbyterian Church). Its members elected a Session and Diaconate and ratified their call to Jack.
After his arrival in December 1992, Jack quickly persuaded us to look for another meeting place. We settled on Briggs Chaney Middle School, a Montgomery County Public School in Burtonsville, Maryland. The school facilities served us well, though it taxed the ingenuity and perseverance of our members to cart in and set up our worship and Sunday School rooms every week.
While we enjoyed tremendous fellowship and slow but steady growth, it became apparent that to grow as a body of Christ and make an impact on the community, we needed to find a more permanent church home. We explored a number of nearby options in Montgomery County prior to finding a large ranch-style house on 10 acres in Fulton, a growing area of Howard County. In essence, we chose to go to where the people are coming.
In May 2004, we broke ground and began the process of gutting the house, raising the roof, and building the church. Our congregation is blessed with a number of highly-skilled craftsmen and professionals, as well as lots of willing, generally-skilled laborers. We began working 4 hours or so most Saturdays and, after a while, found ourselves diligently working full days every Saturday to complete the building in fall 2006.
Throughout the planning, pledging, giving, and building processes, we were blessed by an ever-present spirit of unity, even as targeted completion dates slipped from summer into fall. On November 12, 2006, we rejoiced in the Lord’s faithfulness, opened our doors, and held our first worship service in our beautiful new building.
Good Hope has sought from its inception to be faithful to Christ and His Word, gladly enjoying our Presbyterian and reformed heritage. We’ve desired to see Christ’s grace work in our people’s lives as we live together as a community. One of many blessings we received from Wallace was a wide range of ages. The congregation is still marked by diversity of age, life situation, and occupation.