Woods memorial presbyterian church


our mission: welcoming all to grow and serve in christ

woods church sanctuary congregation

Our Vision: To be a voice of faith transforming lives and society through Jesus Christ

woods church communion table



being presbyterian






It is hard to say when the first Presbyterian congregation was founded in America. It may have been as early as 1672. In the early 18th century we find the first signs of an inter-congregational structure governed by elders. That first Presbytery was established by Francis Makemie, the "Father of American Presbyterianism." The place and date of that first meeting is not definitely known. Makemie simply wrote that it was "a meeting of ministers for ministerial exercise to consult the most proper measure for advancing religion and propagating Christianity." 


Quite some time passed before Presbyterian-style religion advanced to Severna Park but it eventually came. At the turn of the century, Severna Park (once a peach orchard and tomato farm owned by Grafton Boone) was bought by a development company and parceled into lots. Soon a group of year-round residents wanted to have a local Protestant Church. Frank C. Woods, a retired Baptist minister and, incidentally, a classmate of Woodrow Wilson at Princeton, had moved his family into a new home on the bluff overlooking the Severn River. He offered to head the group and conduct services in the one-room schoolhouse. 

L. Seymour Zimmerman and Rev. Woods went to the Presbytery with their proposal for the founding of a church in Severna Park and it was officially organized on June 23, 1912 as the Severna Park Presbyterian Church. After the death of Rev. Woods in 1943 the church was renamed in his honor. 

Oscar Hatton, head of the development company, donated the land where the original church building was raised (now "The Founders Room"). The church has grown from the original eight members and friends to over 2000 members and many more friends. The buildings and grounds have expanded. The opportunities for mission and ministry seem to grow with each year. Every new member comes with talent to share. 

being presbyterian

Learning to spell Presbyterian is harder than understanding what it means. In the New Testament, “Presbuteros” or Presbyters, means elders. Presbyterian means governed by elders. Elders are called by God, elected by the congregation and, together with clergy, govern the church.
Presbyterians believe in the Trinity – the sovereignty of God the Father, Jesus Christ, His incarnation on earth, and in the Holy Spirit, God’s presence in the world and in the believer. We believe in the forgiveness of sin, the life everlasting and the inspired word of God in the Bible. Presbyterians believe in two sacraments, baptism and Holy Communion (the Lord’s Supper, or Eucharist).

Woods is a part of the Presbyterian Church (USA).


Woods Church is a faith community of believers in Jesus Christ who are spiritually engaged in a variety of ways at all times.

Worship and theology

Worship that realizes strength of preaching, variety of worship styles, inspiring music, weekly offering of communion, and extension beyond our sanctuary.

We are engaged by the Word of God proclaimed in worship through thought-provoking and illuminating sermons which address discipleship in the context of Scripture and the modern world, as well as by inspiring music, communal celebration of the sacraments, and creative use of liturgy. Our three distinct weekly worship services (Communion, Traditional, and Contemporary) recognize that we can worship the same God in a variety of meaningful ways, while our Home Communion ministry and Retirement Community Communion services proclaim that neither our worship nor our community is bound within the walls of our sanctuary.

Vision of Woods’ Ideal Future: Members of the community are drawn to Woods because of their desire to experience meaningful worship and true fellowship. Worship is Christ-focused, from the music to the sermons to the sacraments. Members experience sermons that are powerful, inspirational, compelling, encouraging, and relevant. Members grow in their faith and deepen their personal relationship with Jesus Christ and are better prepared to serve as his disciples in their local communities and the world at large. Members understand the value of a collective Christian worship experience and say that there is no substitute for regular worship experiences in their lives.

A welcoming spirit that affirms diversity of perspective and religious backgrounds
in a “big tent” of engaged disciples.

We are engaged by people from different backgrounds and with different perspectives. Woods has consistently affirmed the value of being a “Big Tent”, that is a welcoming community inclusive of people from a variety of faith traditions and experiences. We are a Presbyterian Church (USA) church, and recognize that even within that denominational affiliation the theological spectrum is broad, and that embracing that breadth benefits the Body of Christ which is the Church. Participants in the life of the church are committed to showing respect for their brothers and sisters in Christ, regardless of differing theological points of view. We know we can and need to learn from one another.

Vision of Woods’ Ideal Future: Woods is led by the Holy Spirit and each believer is indwelled by the Holy Spirit and grounded in Scripture. At Woods, people experience the joy and peace of the kingdom of God now. Woods is a community of diverse believers in Jesus Christ that values the variety of gifts given to different parts of the body in equipping members to contend for the faith and the works of God’s kingdom. The faith community at Woods attracts and welcomes both experienced seekers and the unchurched, wherever they are on their faith journey.

personal engagement

A substantial participation by a large percentage of our members in pastoral care and nurturing of one another through many caring ministries.
We are engaged as a pastoral and nurturing community of faith. A substantial number of our members contribute to the pastoral ministries of the church (through deacons, Stephen ministers, professional counselors, and lay caregivers) to ensure that people of all ages are supported in times of joy and challenge. We are committed to ensuring that people do not walk alone, but walk with Christ through the witness of our caring ministries.

Vision of Woods’ Ideal Future:  Woods is known throughout its local community and county as a premier hub for the provision of life-span ministry, incorporating a variety of services for its members and the community at large, with a strong emphasis on mutual care and nurture. This ministry is accomplished by supporting one another through the challenges and joys of life, and providing support throughout all of the stages of life. Woods is seen as a home-base to a broad group of individuals and families, including:
+ Those seeking Christian educational resources and offerings targeted to a variety of age groups;
+ Those interested in participating in community and missional focused programs;
+ Those with health concerns or counseling needs; as well as
+ Those seeking simply fun, family-oriented support.

A notably strong education and small group ministry that nurtures our understanding of our faith, the scriptures, and the meaning of discipleship.

We are continually engaged by the Holy Spirit through education and small group ministry. No one at Woods is perfect in their discipleship or understanding. We are all students of the gospel, striving to learn how to love and serve Christ faithfully. Accordingly, education is a high priority for all age groups in the church, through Sunday school, ChristCare small groups, Presbyterian Women, Men’s Fraternity, Disciple study groups and more. As individuals and as a community, we are reformed and ever reforming in our understanding of the Bible and in living the gospel of our Lord.

Vision of Woods’ Ideal Future: Woods serves as a magnet for individuals throughout the community desiring to discover and develop their faith through strong educational programs and intimate small group discussions. People are drawn to Woods because these offerings are:
+ Accessible to everyone within and beyond the Woods congregation;
+ Clearly articulated so that their scope and focus are evident;
+ Offered in formats that communicate with the full range of age groups; and
+ Offered at flexible times and locations.


The commitment of a majority of our members to involvement in mission and service in the local and world community as builders, partners, advocates, and servants.
We are engaged in the world as a manifestation of our discipleship. A majority of Woods members are actively involved in mission and service in the local and world community. We work to offer immediate assistance, long-term development, love and encouragement to all, as well as to advocate for justice and speak out against the exploitation of “the least of these.” We are a missional, servant church committed to being the mouth, the hands, and the heart of Christ in the world.

Vision of Woods’ Ideal Future: Woods is a recognized leader in encouraging responsible discipleship among its members, empowering them to be bold leaders in furthering the church’s widespread mission outreach. Woods is known for its training and development of all age groups, equipping them with the skills needed for a wide diversity of outreach projects, including:
+ Affordable housing;
+ Elderly and disabled support;
+ Health screening and assistance;
+ Educational opportunities;
+ Ministries nurturing children and families;
+ Support and hospitality for the homeless;
+ Disaster relief; and
+ Feeding the hungry.

A multi-faceted youth ministry that both addresses the spiritual needs of our youth and
reaches into the schools and local community to provide programs and resources for
youth beyond our walls.

We are engaged in nurturing the next generation of Christ’s disciples through an extensive series of ministries to youth, which address the needs, urgent concerns and spiritual development of youth at every level of their faith journeys.  The involvement of our youth in serving others in mission and outreach partnerships builds their relationships with other youth and adults locally and globally.  By working together with local schools and community leaders, we are also able to provide relevant programs and seminars not just for our own youth, but also for youth within the larger community, thereby sharing Christ’s love in the real world of adolescents.

Vision of Woods’ Ideal Future: Woods recognizes that the youth are not just the church of tomorrow, but the church of today. At Woods the youth are heard and seen. The participation of our youth in the various ministries inspires in them a desire to know Christ personally and passionately. They go out into their community with a strong desire to share the good news of the gospel vividly, to address concerns of youth in the community, and to impact the lives of everyone they meet. 



Woods worshippers are engaged by the Word of God through powerful biblically based sermons that address the real-life issues of today’s complicated world. Three distinct worship services (8:00 am Communion, 9:30 am Traditional and 11:00 am Contemporary) offer a choice of worship styles, ranging from quiet prayer time, to exceptional choir and organ offerings with frequent instrumental and vocal soloists. Our talented praise team leads the third worship service, marked by today’s spirited and lively musical selections. 

Does Woods offer opportunities for personal growth?

A strong education andsmall-group ministry nurtures Woods members and friends in our understanding of twenty-first century faith issues, the Scriptures and the call to serve others. Guest speakers enhance our adult education program, and families of all ages can learn about God through musical productions based on biblical stories. Friendships grow through groups like Presbyterian Women of Woods, Men’s Bible Study and a variety of support groups at the Woods Counselling and Care Center.

How does Woods provide care for the church community and others?

A substantial number of Woods members contribute to the pastoral ministries of the church through deacons, Stephen Ministry, professional counselors and lay caregivers to ensure that people of all ages are supported in times of joy and challenge. We are committed to ensuring that people do not walk alone, but walk with Christ through the witness of our caring ministries.

Many Woods members are actively involved in mission and service to the local and world community. We work to offer immediate assistance, long-term development, love and encouragement to all, as well as to advocate for justice and peace. Our international mission work includes outreach to people living in Cuba, Guatemala and Malawi.

Is Woods a child/youth-friendly place?

Woods Church welcomes children into our church family in a variety of ways – including nursery care on Sunday mornings, fun-filled Sunday School programs, and a multi-faceted youth ministry that addresses the needs of our young people while engaging them in mission work on the local and global level.

What’s the backstory of Woods Church?

Originally known as the Severna Park Presbyterian Church, the congregation was organized in 1912 with eight original members and retired Baptist minister Frank C. Woods. After his death in 1943, the church was renamed in the first pastor’s honor. Currently there are more than 2,000 members and friends who are part of the Woods family.

What does it mean to be Presbyterian?

Presbyterian (taken from the New Testament biblical Greek word “presbuteros”) means governed by elders. Elders are men and women who are called by God, elected by the congregation and together with clergy govern the church and care for the congregation. Woods is part of the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA).

What are some of the religious beliefs of Presbyterians?

Presbyterians believe in the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We confess Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, and believe that through his saving acts, our sins are forgiven and we are granted the gift of life everlasting.