SANDY SPRING, Md.– Members of the Round Oak Missionary Baptist Church gathered at the Sandy Spring Museum on Saturday to celebrate their 150 years of existence.
To celebrate the landmark year, the church announced the release of its own published book called ‘From Acorn to Mighty Oak…It Can Be Done.’ The idea to write the book came from the church’s pastor, Rev. Lionel Pointer, Jr., who wanted to keep a written record of the church’s history and ensure it would survive the test of time.
“For too long and too many, the past does sleep in the dust of antiquity,” said Rev. Pointer. “What history does is that it brings us tidings from antiquity. It dusts off the events, the progress, the failures of our past so that it prepares us to proceed into the future, hopefully not to make the errors of the past.”
Rev Pointer, who served as the church’s pastor for 42 years, assigned four women in November 2017 to research the history of the church to make the book a reality: Deaconess Martha Forston; Dr. Michelle Pointer, the pastor’s wife; Rev. Janessa Grady Fleming; and Djuna Withers.
Fleming spent countless hours speaking to individuals with records of the church’s history, referencing periodicals and newspapers, as well as interviewing people whose ancestors helped start the church. Not only did Sandy Spring Museum play host to the church’s sesquicentennial celebration, but it also served as the basis of much of the research Fleming and company did for the book.
“A lot of research went into that book,” said Fleming. “A lot of historical research that actually began to a great extent right here at this museum. They have this wonderful research library here and we dove in.”
Pointer was full of praise for the ‘H-team,’ as he called them (“The history team”), for the effort they put forth to provide future generations of Round Oak churchgoers a historical account of their congregation to refer to.
“The commission that we gave to these four very gifted women was to bring us tidings from the past so that it would give us a sense of self and identity of what we’ve already accomplished so that the challenges that lay before us will not seem so insurmountable,” said Pointer. “They developed, researched, compiled, and published this product, which now we can hand to our children.”
The book is formatted to tell the 150-year story of the six pastors who presided throughout the church’s existence and provide context for the impact historical events such as the Civil War, both world wars, and the civil rights movement had on the church and its community.
At the book announcement, historical items related to the church were on display such as an original pew used from the church’s inception through the 1940’s, a water pitcher that would contain drinking water for pastors as they preached, and a shovel case made by a 12-year-old boy meant to hold the shovel used at the 1940 groundbreaking ceremony of the secondary building accompanying the church.
Upon completion of their museum space in the upcoming months, Round Oak will house these and many other artifacts with plans to host open house events for the local community to come see the artifacts themselves.
After 150 years of existence and a book to show for its history, Fleming hopes the story of Round Oak provides the community with a sense of faith, the same faith that guided Round Oak throughout time.
“I would want the community to take away that there is an oak tree that started as an acorn, and became a mighty, flourishing oak that has grown and taken root in this community,” said Fleming. “However, the wind blows, whatever the storms that come in your life, you can still flourish, you can start as an acorn. There is hope for a better tomorrow, whatever is going on in your life. We’re the proof of it.”