Summer newsletter is here!

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In this edition:

  • Saying Goodbye and Hello to Our Pastors
    By Rev. Rachel Cornwell, Lead Pastor, and John Taylor, SPRC Member of the Administrative Board
  • BSSUMC’s Pastoral Change – Your Questions Answered
  • Summer Worship Opportunities
  • Recognizing Promotions & Graduations
  • Community Easter Event Photos
  • Four Corners Mission & Outreach Update
    Reflections on Screenagers
  • “Reaching Up, Reaching Out” — Our Capital Budget priorities
  • And much more!

Greening our landscapes

Over the past 18 months, Grounds and Gardens leader Rob Horn has been hard at work. You may have seen his handiwork in the many beautiful native species of plantings that he has done around our downtown campus. What you may not have seen is the hard, behind-the-scenes work he has put into raising funds for improvements to the grounds and gardens.

That work has paid off in several grants that the church has received to create sustainable landscaping that helps the environment. In the next few months, you’ll see work in the following areas of the church.

Along the driveway leading from Ballard St into the main parking lot, grants from the Montgomery County RainScapes program and The Chesapeake Bay Trust will fund a rain garden along the driveway and a trench drain that will feed water to it from the parking lot, thus diverting polluted runoff water from running into the storm drains.

Ballard St Driveway Rain Garden (click for full size)

And along Georgia Avenue, the Anacostia Riverkeeper is coordinating a project that will install a Rain Garden:

Plan of Rain Garden to be located along Georgia Avenue near driveway (click to enlarge)
Just some of the beautiful, native species of plants that will be installed in the Georgia Avenue rain garden (click to enlarge)

Rev. Angela Flanagan announced as new Lead Pastor

Rev. Angela Flanagan  will become Lead Pastor at Silver Spring United Methodist Church on July 1.

Rev. Angela Flanagan and FamilyRev. Angela is excited by the vision and mission of Silver Spring UMC and looks forward to getting to know the congregation as we work together to serve God’s people. She is passionate about social justice advocacy, children’s ministry, and building community ties.

For the last two years, Rev. Angela has served on the Young Adult Council of the Baltimore-Washington Conference. Fluent in Spanish, she has experience in bilingual ministry and has served as a translator on mission journeys to Spanish-speaking countries.

Rev. Angela enjoys cooking Mexican food, playing board games, traveling, and spending time with her family. Her husband of ten years, Danny, is a geologist who works for the US Geological Survey. Together they have two energetic and talkative daughters: Sofia (age 5) and Nadia (age 2).

Rev. Angela Flanagan, in her own words

My Story of Discipleship

With a pastor as my dad and a 50+ year organist for my grandmother, faith was always a part of my life. I spent my first 10 years in a small UM church in Baltimore where my dad pastored 5 of those years until going on disability leave. He died of cancer when I was 11 years old. Shortly after he died we began attending a growing, rural UMC where I truly came to claim faith for myself under the guidance of my pastor. She included me in adult Bible studies, including Disciple Bible Study and made sure the class embraced me as an equal, even at 16-years old. It was a transformative experience. She instilled a sense of social activism in me, encouraged my incessant question asking, and introduced me to the radical nature of this Jesus-following venture!

At age 15, I experienced my call to ordained ministry and worked slowly and steadily towards that calling. During college, as I became more involved in advocating for LGBTQI rights, I spent a time of discernment about whether I wanted to stay in the tradition that had raised me. With the help of college chaplains, I decided that it was more important to work for change from within the system.

While the work for justice certainly continues, Jesus’ calling has not changed—follow me, love thy neighbor, go and make disciples. No exceptions. So, I intend to continue doing just that.

My Work In The Local Church

From 2007-2013, I worked at West Nashville UMC in various capacities including Hispanic Ministry Assistant, Director of Children’s Ministry, and Pastor for Integrative Ministry. During this time I helped begin a Hispanic-Latino Ministry, build a children’s ministry, and walk with this congregation as they integrated their Spanish and English speaking ministries into one bilingual congregation (bilingual worship, bible study, meetings, etc.). I worked some with the homeless feeding ministry and a lot with immigrant rights advocacy.

In 2013, I began my first appointment as the associate pastor of Calvary UMC in Mount Airy, MD. In my four years there, I have worked extensively in worship planning, pastoral care, leading a revisioning process for the Missions Team, developing lay leadership, planning women’s retreats, and walking with the congregation through a time of intense change both in the church and the local community.

I was ordained as an elder in full connection in 2016. I was recently trained as a UMVIM leader and traveled to Cuba on a Northeastern Jurisdiction young adult mission trip. I hope to lead a team back to the Cuban Methodist Church in the future.

I am passionate about building bridges that foster community and relationships while maintaining the integrity of our diverse identities. In preaching, I typically use the lectionary and love to see how God works through the lectionary in timely ways to speak to the challenges and injustices of our time. When teaching Bible studies, I encourage asking the tough questions, even when no answers are apparent. I believe in open communication and lead through collaboration.

Beyond anything, I care deeply for the people and mission of the local church and look forward to continuing to grow together in our discipleship.


  • Vanderbilt Divinity School: Master of Divinity degree with Certificate in Latin American Studies, 2011.
  • Allegheny College: Bachelor of Arts with double major in Religious Studies and Spanish with a minor in VESA
    (Values, Ethics, and Social Action), 2007

My Family

My husband, Danny, is a quiet and compassionate partner in life. We began dating in high school and also attended college together. We both enjoyed a semester abroad in Mexico. Danny loves baseball, nature, and spending time with our girls. He is a geologist and works for the U.S. Geological Survey in Reston, VA. Together we enjoy traveling,
hosting board game nights with friends, and family outings.

We formed our family through adoption and are passionate about the many layers of justice issues interwoven in the world of transracial adoption. Our older daughter, Sofia, is a very imaginative 5-year-old who is full of energy. She loves all things princess, God, and science. Sofia will be starting Kindergarten this fall.

Our younger daughter, Nadia, is two-years-old and really coming into her own. She is persistent, smart, and determined to keep up with big sister. She loves animals (especially cats and baby goats), Minnie Mouse, and dinosaurs.

Memories for Rev. Rachel & Family

[button url=”” size=”large” color=”red”]Event Info: June 18 Celebration and Luncheon[/button]

A very big thank you to everyone who submitted messages for the “Send-Off” book. Your messages (if submitted by 5/14) are now in the book, and the book is on it way to be printed.

Please join us Sunday JUNE 18th — Rev. Rachel’s last Sunday

  • 10am Rachel’s final Worship Service (one service only)
  • 11:15am Then join us after worship, downstairs in the Fellowship Hall for a “Thank you, Rev. Rachel” Celebration Lunch and presentation of the Keepsake Book.

(There will be a journal available for you to write messages — if you weren’t able to get a message in the book by 5/14.)

[button url=”” size=”large” color=”red”]Event Info: June 18 Celebration and Luncheon[/button]

New mission redefines a church

Our church’s choice pantry was highlighted by the Baltimore-Washington Conference as an example of how “partnerships between churches and other organizations are helping to re-build a sacred space.” They said:

The Center runs a choice food pantry where people come in and choose the food items they want, Cornwell said. The model of a choice food pantry, she said, gives people more dignity and helps eliminate food waste since people choose the foods they want, rather than what is simply given to them.

It’s also a more hands-on form of ministry, Cornwell said, because volunteers are needed to walk through the pantry with every guest, talking and building relationships along the way.

The article highlights the key role of church member Lisa Middleton, who leads our Feeding Ministry and spearheaded the choice pantry. “We’re here because we believed in the vision,” says Middleton. “When God is calling you to do something, there’s not going to be anything that stands in the way.

Read the whole article here.

A Message from Lead Pastor Rev. Rachel Cornwell

Eleven years ago, following the leading of the Holy Spirit, I asked the Bishop of the Baltimore-Washington Conference, to send me from the church where I had been the associate pastor for four years to a new appointment. In 2006, Bishop John Schol appointed me here, to what was then called Woodside United Methodist Church. That was before we were a Cooperative Parish with Marvin Memorial, before we were a Reconciling church, officially welcoming all, before we were Silver Spring UMC, feeding all God’s people, body, mind and spirit.

[quote float=”right” size=”one-third”]In June, I will be stepping down as your pastor, and Marcus, Nora, Graham, Evie and I will embark on a new adventure.[/quote]

Over the past decade, we have grown together, you all and me. I look out at you all and see many people who have come here in the last 10 years, many couples that have married, many children born, including two of my three kids. There are also those who have died or have moved or have gone to other churches.

This is a very different church now. We now have a new mission statement and a welcoming statement; a balanced budget and money in the bank for capital improvements; a full Sunday school and an active youth ministry; we have strong lay leadership and an incredibly gifted and dedicated staff.

I give thanks for all that God has done in and through this church, and for the ways in which I have grown and learned as your pastor. And now, again following the leading of the Holy Spirit, I have again asked the Bishop to send me forth to the next, new challenge. And so, as of the end of June, I will be stepping down as your pastor, and Marcus, Nora, Graham, Evie and I will embark on a new adventure.

I have asked Bishop LaTrelle Easterling for up to one year of voluntary leave of absence to discern where God would use me next. I ask for your prayers in this time of transition, and as I continue to discern where God is calling me.

[quote float=”right” size=”one-third”]Saying farewell isn’t easy, but we will have time to celebrate together all that God has done.[/quote]

In the next few weeks, the Bishop will appoint a new pastor to Silver Spring UMC, to help lead you all on the next stage of your journey as a church. Whoever comes here will be very fortunate to get to serve in such a vibrant and vital church, and I know that the Bishop and Cabinet are praying and working to find the very best pastor to lead you. I also ask that you hold them in your prayers, for the Holy Spirit to lead and guide them.

And I am praying for all of you, and for our leaders here. I am grateful to the Administrative Board and the staff for their support and encouragement, and I know they are going to help make this a smooth transition.

I look forward to continuing to be your pastor for the next three months, and helping to prepare you to receive your next pastoral leader. Saying farewell isn’t easy, but we will have time to celebrate together all that God has done, is doing and will do in the future.

Thank you for your love and prayers.

Buy a Yard Sign for Inclusion

[button url=”″ size=”large” color=”blue”]Buy a Sign – $20[/button]

Show your support for inclusion by purchasing a yard sign that declares:

[box]No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor.[/box]

Each sign is $20; extra proceeds will go to Justice for Our Neighbors.

Buy online or from the church office during business hours.  For information contact Laurie Swain at 301-587-1215.


Vacation Bible School

Although Vacation Bible School seems like ages ago, it has only been about 6 weeks since the sanctuary of Silver Spring United Methodist Church was filled with energetic young children all dressed in brightly colored shirts, eager to learn God’s word. This year’s theme was “Surf Shack,” which fit nicely with the start of summer. Crews and centers were aptly named to fit the theme. Crews included the Sea Turtles (4 years old), the Seahorses (5-6 years old), the Lobsters (7-8 years old), the Sand Crabs (8-9 years old), the Jellyfish (9 years old), the Squids (9 years old), the Stingrays (10 year old boys), and the Dolphins (10 year old girls). This year at VBS, the numbers were smaller than in previous years, with only 85 children attending.


Despite the need to close registration early due to a lack of volunteers, this year’s VBS proved to be a successful one, and a week that the children thoroughly enjoyed. Lucy Hur, an avid participant in VBS, and member of the Lobsters Crew, says that her favorite parts about the week were, “art, because we did a lot of crafts there, and singing songs.” Like Lucy, almost every child had a center during the day that they particularly enjoyed. Whether that was the Craft Hut, Discovery Dunes, a center filled with fun science experiments, the Story Deck, the Mission Center, Tidal Tunes, or the beloved Snack Shack.


The success of VBS is largely due to the amount of preparation and hard work that goes on behind the scenes. Ms. Marie Matthews, SSUMC Director of Christian Education, served as the fearless leader and director of this wonderful ministry. She shares that the hardest parts about orchestrating a large ministry such as VBS was, “making sure that we have enough volunteers for the week,” and “enough leaders for all of the different centers.” However, after a number of years, the task often does not feel as daunting. Ms. Marie agrees, stating, “we’re kind of pros at it now, once you’ve done it once or twice it’s very simple.”

Ms. Marie was not alone this week. There were a number of youth and adults who stepped up this summer to help lead Vacation Bible School. The experience of volunteering during the week is always fulfilling, with adult and youth leaders alike feeling as if they have contributed to the church, as well as the community. Every volunteer had a different reason for stepping up. Youth crew leader Risa McGinnis says, “I like working with kids and it was a good opportunity to reach out in the community.” During, and especially after VBS, there is always a common sense of joy and satisfaction that is felt by everyone involved in the ministry.

Active adult leader Jim Joholske expresses this notion stating, “It is so fulfilling to see how much the kids enjoy VBS. It brings me great joy to see how happy they are to be there. The centers are well planned and the kids love the activities. I also enjoy meeting the kids that do not normally attend our church. I think this is such an important outreach not only to our church family, but to others in the community as well.”


Ms. Marie agrees with the positive outlook on the ministry, sharing that the most fulfilling part of the week was, “it’s always the kids having a great time. No matter what it always works out.” She shares her main reasoning behind continuing the ministry every year stating, “I love the kids, and I love Vacation Bible School. It’s one of the highlights of our ministry, and it’s a good outreach tool; we have more children from the community that come to Vacation Bible School than we have our own kids that are members of the church.”


This positive impact of the ministry also translates over to the diverse groups of children that are met with an opportunity to strengthen their relationships to God. Through the fun activities throughout the week, children are taught and exposed to various stories and lessons that teach them how to see, love, and trust in God.

There were various “pop up phrases” that were reinforced throughout the week in order to keep the principle of God’s love present. These short, yet powerful phrases include, “God creates,” “God helps,” “God loves,” “God calms,” “God provides,” and “God sends.” These simple phrases helped to keep God alive in the minds of the children, and they were a reminder of God’s love for them. Sarah Park, mother of Audrey and Isaac Park, states, “I am grateful that our church community provides a fun, inviting environment for children to learn about God and what it means to be a Christian in our world in very real ways.”


The impact of Vacation Bible School has also reached numerous parents of children who have participated in the ministry. Sarah Park states, “I know that both Audrey and Isaac learned a valuable lesson by participating in the mission project for Haiti during VBS. Just the other day we were driving in the car together when we heard a news report about the recent unrest in Turkey. Isaac (5) suggested that we send food and money to help the people who live there.” These small, yet powerful acts continue to be part of a greater impact on the community.

Vacation Bible School always has been and will remain a highlight, and a vital part of our church year. The program continues to greatly impact all who are involved, and all who have the pleasure of witnessing a week filled with God’s love. At the end of the ministry, it is rewarding to see all of the hard work and preparation pay off through the eagerness and joy of the children.

Because of the positive impact that this ministry has had on the faith of the children, our goal is to be able to welcome 150 children (or more!) to Vacation Bible School next year. That being said, if you are an adult or a youth who is looking for a way to reach out into the community, please consider giving some of your time to volunteering at Vacation Bible School next summer. We promise, you won’t regret it.

Summer Messenger is Here!

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The Summer edition of our Messenger newsletter is here! Included in this issue:

  • Buildings Make a Difference: How investments in facilities are furthering our mission to feed all people–body, mind, and soul–so no one goes hungry.
  • Saying Goodbye, by Rev. Joey Heath, Associate Pastor
  • Take Nothing for Granted: My Service in Haiti, by Nora Meeks
  • Imagine No More Malaria, by Marilyn Parr and Suzanne Browning
  • Reflections on Confirmation, by Sabina Perry, Susanne Noble, Shannon Parkin, Becky Hill, and Lori Crowe
  • And much more!

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