In November, 1912 the Columbia Association of Baptist Churches purchased property on the corner of 7th and Randolph Sts. N.W. for the purpose of building a Baptist church. During a mass meeting of interested Baptists on December 1, 1912, it was decided to establish a new church, the first service to be held on December 29, 1912. A permanent church organization was thus established under the name of Petworth Baptist Church. The premises of 4009 9th St. N.W. were rented for subsequent meetings, and the following Sunday, January 5, 1913, the Sunday school was organized and worship was led by Rev. Quirof Harlan, one of 63 charter members.
In January 1914, Rev. Owen P. Lloyd was called as first pastor. During his pastorate, the first church building was erected at a cost of $17,500. At this time, the church was on the outskirts of the city, with farmland to the north, but the “Friendly Church” as it was called then, made steady growth. Rev. Lloyd resigned in September, 1915, and Dr. F. Vernon Atkinson served until the call of a new pastor.
In July, 1916, Rev. F. Paul Langhorne became the second pastor, and during the next seven years, membership grew from 104 to 367, and a beautiful new sanctuary was built. Rev. Langhorne resigned in December, 1923 and was succeeded in June, 1924 by Rev. Henry J. Smith. During Rev. Smith’s pastorate, the membership increased to 880, and the church liquidated all its indebtedness.
Following the resignation of Rev. Smith in April, 1940, the church called the Rev. James P. Rodgers, who assumed duties in December, 1940. Under Rev. Rodgers, the church purchased an annex across the street from the sanctuary and began a building fund for future expansion. When Rev. Rodgers resigned in July 1948, church membership had risen to over 1,000.
Chaplain LeRoy Raley served as interim pastor until the arrival of Rev. S. Lewis Morgan on June, 1949. In July, 1954, the church voted to purchase property on Georgia Ave. in Silver Spring, MD. Services were initiated on February 14, 1955 in a rented house at 9504 Woodland Drive. By May, 1955, the Montgomery Hills Chapel had 48 charter members. In February, 1957, a new church building was completed on Georgia Ave. and Forest Glen Road. Under Rev. Morgan and three successive Associate Pastors, Rev. R. Brown Hughes, Rev. Jack Coffey, and Rev. Nathan C. Brooks III, one single church functioned at two sites.
On January 13, 1963, the final service was held at the Petworth location, and on January 20, 1963 the church began meeting together as a single congregation in Montgomery Hills. The present sanctuary and educational wing were completed and dedicated in February, 1965. Following the resignation of Rev. Morgan in January, 1968, Dr. Sidney Larson served as Interim Pastor until the call of Dr. George B. Hawthorne in December, 1968.
During the pastorate of Rev. Hawthorne, the church shared its facilities with a new Korean Baptist Congregation and called Dr. Menter P. German as Associate Pastor. With the resignation of Dr. Hawthorne in December, 1974, Dr. German served as Acting Pastor, assisted by Dr. Clarence W. Cranford and Dr. James Langley, until the call in July, 1975, of Rev. Donnell R. Harris.
Rev. Harris served Montgomery Hills for 23 years. During those years, the church completed payments on its mortgage and celebrated that accomplishment on the occasion of the church’s 70th anniversary. In April, 1977, the church called the Rev. Bruce C. Salmon as Associate Pastor. Dr. German continued to serve the church as Minister of Visitation until his death in 1979. Rev. Joel S. Hawthorne, son of the former pastor, was called as Associate Pastor in May, 1985. The church sanctuary was renovated in preparation for the 75th anniversary celebration in 1987. These years were also notable for the addition of the Bethany Baptist Church of Washington, D.C., whose members united with Montgomery Hills in December, 1986. Upon the resignation of Rev. Hawthorne in 1992, Rev. David C. Lohff was called in March, 1993, and served until October of 1995.
Following the resignation of Rev. Harris in 1998, the church called the Rev. Joel S. Hawthorne, who began his pastorate in July of 1998. The church served as a beacon of hope and prayer to the Montgomery Hills community in the aftermath of the tragedies of September 11th, 2001. In more recent years, a steering team was established to focus on a new vision, that of being a church where all people can “belong, grow, and serve.” A major construction project was initiated, with the church adding a new elevator, and the entire building was made handicap accessible. Petworth-Montgomery Hills has a rich history, and has every reason to look forward with hope. May God continue to bless the Petworth-Montgomery Hills Baptist Church as we worship, grow, and serve together.