In the early 1800s, German and English Lutherans of Cumberland all attended St. Paul's Lutheran Church. In the late 1830s, large numbers of Germans began moving to Cumberland to work in the coal fields just west of Cumberland. In 1844, with their numbers growing rapidly, German speakers at St. Paul's held a worship service all in German. In 1847, against the backdrop of "Americanization," English speaking members of St. Paul's informed German speakers that no more services in an "alien" language would be conducted in the building.
Rather than argue the matter, the German speakers left St. Paul's and founded the German Evangelical Church. The 35 members of the new congregation acquired land on a prominent hill overlooking Cumberland's downtown, and laid the church's foundation and cornerstone on June 1, 1848. According to local tradition, the Church acquired its most prominent feature, its clock and chimes, after winning a city sponsored contest challenging local churches to be the first to build a tower to house the clock. In 1895, the German Lutheran Church switched to all-English worship services. In 1931, a Disciples of Christ congregation moved into what had become known as "Town Clock Church." Endeavoring to care for the oldest unmodified church in Cumberland, the members of the First Christian Church have preserved the Town Clock Church and Cumberland's connections to its early German population for more than 60 years.
The Town Clock Church is located at 312 Bedford St. It is open to the public by appointment only. Please call 301-777-3909 well in advance.