Today’s Gethsemane United Methodist Church was brought about by the merging of two historic congregations, Ridgley-Zion Methodist Church and Seat Pleasant Methodist Church. The Ridgley branch of this great union is the older of the two congregations. In 1871, Lewis Ridgley, Joseph Beall, and Richard Cook purchased one-half acre of land at a cost of $20.00. Soon after the purchase, a small church was built on the land at 8900 Central Avenue, Landover, Maryland. The original Ridgley-Zion Methodist Church building was eventually destroyed by fire, and in 1921 the present historic structure was built at the site.
The second branch of this union, Seat Pleasant Methodist Church, was founded in 1909. The land for the church building was donated by Joseph Palmer. In 1912, it completed construction and occupied its first building at 501 Addison Road. Following World War II and the closing of Dodge Park Methodist Church, Seat Pleasant Methodist Church received the members of that church through a merger. With the increased membership, the needed to expand became evident. It was then that the 17 acre tract at 910 Addison Road was purchased for $34,000.
The beautiful contemporary church was built in 1961. Two hundred people could be seated in the meeting room, which is now the Fellowship Hall. Other rooms in the building were designed to be used for classrooms. A multi-level parsonage was built on the site in April, 1962. In 1978, Ridgley and Seat Pleasant became a circuit with Reverend Orwin W. Dooley as pastor. During this period, the merger of the two churches was conceived. In April, 1980, under the leadership of Reverend Louis Shockley, Jr., and in accordance with the United Methodist Discipline under the oversight and guidance of the Baltimore Conference, the two churches agreed to come together and form a single congregation to be known as Gethsemane United Methodist Church. Under Rev Shockley’s leadership, the membership grew as did the church organizations, and our current sanctuary, which seats 500, was built.