Our History


Hughes Memorial Methodist Church, now Hughes Memorial United Methodist Church is a venture born of a prophetic vision and a consuming faith of first a handful of people. In the fall of 1948, then superintendent of the Washington District of the Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church (a segregated branch of the Methodist Church) conducted a tour and exclaimed, “We’ve got to have a church out here.” A survey was then made by the Board of Missions throughout the Capitol View and Marshal Heights areas and in 1949 the new mission of Hughes Memorial was formally set up in Malvan and Schey Funeral Chapel at 48th and Deane Avenue, NE with two charter members.

After six months of worship services and planning meetings, the group and its now fifteen members established a parish house church at 18 54th Street, SE, and named the church in honor of the late Bishop William A.C. Hughes, the Field Secretary of the Conference Board of Missions and Church Extension. A stadium at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland is also named after him. He was the first Bishop elected after the unification of the segregated branch of the Methodist Church and died shortly after his consecration. We have come this “Far by Faith” since the 67–member historic march on March 23, 1958 to the present location of 53rd and Ames Street.

Our recorded history reveals the details of our steady growth and progress. Included therein are purchases of lots for expansion; the making and liquidation of mortgages under Rev. Charles Johnson; and building programs in the 1950’s and in the 1980-90’s. The latter resulted in the construction of a multipurpose building under the leadership of Rev. Mamie Williams and the renovation of the sanctuary. Bishop James K. Matthews consecrated the new facility on Sunday, August 22, 1993 during which time Sunday morning services took place in the Fellowship Hall of the multipurpose building. On November 6, 1994, worship service returned to the newly renovated sanctuary with a new computerized organ and stained-glass windows. In the spring of 1998, a new 15-passenger van was purchased.

Clubs and organizations have played a prominent role in Hughes’ growth and progress. Great effort was exerted to develop ministries to serve and support the community and to bring the two into closer contact. These efforts resulted in our congregation’s participation in the Bishop’s Initiative Against Drugs and Violence; a Summer Ministries Program - Project Spirit; UPO Day Care; the Adopt-a-School program; Boy Scout Troop #582 founded in 1953 (currently inactive); and Charity Outreach (1993). The HUM Federal Credit Union established in 1964 has now merged with the HEW Credit Union.

Twelve pastors have led the congregation to make Hughes what it is today. Pastors are tasked with equipping, engaging, and empowering the laity to do ministry of the church. These are a few glimpses of the ministry that took place during the tenure of our lead pastors:

  1. Kirkland Frazier, February – July 1949
    Organization of the church in its beginning days

  2. William H. Hairston, 1949 – 1953
    Acceptance of the church into the Methodist Conference where it was given its name, Hughes Memorial, in memory of the late Bishop W.A.C. Hughes

  3. William E. Bishop, 1953 – 1966
    Purchase of land for building the church and construction of the present edifice on March 23, 1958; the historic march of 67 members from 54th Street to the present building

  4. Thomas F. Brooks, 1966 – 1974
    Purchase of the two adjacent lots for church expansion and the installation of central air conditioning

  5. Charles A. Johnson, 1974 – 1982
    Liquidation of the entire mortgage indebtedness and the development of plans for building expansion; the plan adopted called for building a new sanctuary and renovating the present structures as a multipurpose building

  6. Hal T. Henderson, 1982 – 1986
    Acquisition of a new parsonage and approval of a new building plan changing the previously- adopted plan; the new plan provided for the renovation of the present structure as the sanctuary and the construction of a multipurpose unit; a significant increase in youth and young adult participation in church activities

  7. Arlester Brown, 1986 – 1988
    Razing of properties on Ames Street in preparation for the construction of the multipurpose building

  8. Mamie Alethia Williams, 1988 – 1998
    Construction and consecration of the multipurpose building and renovation and reconsecration of the sanctuary; increase in number of local church members serving in lay positions on District and Conference levels; participation in the Council of Bishop’s Initiative Against Drugs and Violence; participation in Urban Ministries Internship program of Wesley Theological Seminary; purchase of Church van

  9. Kirk D. Monroe, Sr., 1998 – 2001
    An increase in the number of Bible Study classes conducted; Tools for School Ministry initiated; Youth attended Rockfest in Ocean City, MD

  10. B. Kevin Smalls, 2001 – 2005
    Instituted the Young Adult Café at Hughes and Washington Columbia District; organized HIS 4 Singing group; reinstated Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper; Senior Fitness and the Children’s Connection ministries developed; Hughes Memorial became a member of the Washington Interfaith Network (WIN)

  11. Constance C. Smith, 2005 – 2014
    Angel Service Network organized; the Benefits Bank ministry was created; instituted the Hughes HOPE (HIV/AIDS) ministry; burning of the mortgage for the multipurpose building and renovation of the sanctuary; instituted CAP (Community Anti -Violence Program) an afterschool mentoring/tutoring program; Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations Cultivated; organized Senior Fellowship; Children’s Church reorganized; Women’s Veterans Resource Center opened.

  12. Paul W. Johnson, 2014 – Present
    Instituted Greeter’s ministry, YPC (Young People’s Choir), Hughes Community Walkers, HLC (Hughes Loving Care) ministry and Circles of Love ministry; launched virtual ministry; developed partnership with Missions, Inspire DC and Campus Kitchen to provide free weekly community meal; developed partnership with Wesley Theological Seminary to provide PMM (Practice in Ministry and Mission) student interns; developed partnership with Project Transformation DC to provide literacy focused summer camp for children, developed partnership with neighborhood churches that participate in SERVE, developed collaborative ministry with United Methodist Churches in the 20019 zip code to provide mental health webinars, youth Confirmation classes and joint adult Bible Studies.

Looking back at our history, we are reminded of all of the names of members, clubs, organizations and ministries that have been an integral part in the mission of Hughes. We are grateful for all that has been done by our Church Family over the years. “We have come this far by faith” and we are convinced God will lead us forward!

Church Historians – Kathleen Crestwell, Louise Whittington, Alveta Jones and Jean Randolph