Sargent Memorial Presbyterian Church

Church History




The church originated as the St. Andrews Mission on May 17, 1908 in Fairmount Heights, Maryland–the first planned African American community in Prince George’s County. After recognition for church status by a committee from Washington Presbytery, the First Presbyterian Church of Fairmount Heights was formally organized on October 25, 1908.  Rev. C. McRae Louistall was its first pastor. A new wooden church was erected on 61st Street in Fairmount Heights. The cornerstone was laid on November 14, 1909 and on May 1, 1910 the sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church of Fairmount Heights was dedicated.


After a succession of several pastors, the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher Campbell was installed in 1922 and stabilization was begun. His ministry had strong emphasis on spiritual and youth development, Christian education, prayer, and sacrificial giving. It also embodied an exemplary model for internal and external growth and development. The church remained in Fairmount Heights until September 2, 1928 at which time the Fairmount Heights property was sold, and the proceeds were used to purchase lots on Grant Street, near 51st Street NE (now Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue) in Washington, DC for a new facility to accommodate growth. The congregation held its first worship service in the new church–a substantial brick structure-on the first Sunday in July, 1930. At the request of the Presbytery of Washington, DC the name of the church was changed from First Presbyterian Church of Fairmount Heights to Sargent Memorial Presbyterian Church effective March 5, 1937 to honor Elder Theodore F. Sargent, one of the elders on the Committee of the Presbytery of Washington City that organized the church in 1908. This followed a substantial gift to the building fund made by the niece of Elder Sargent. Rev. Campbell served as pastor until his retirement in 1945, and the church structure has been renamed Campbell Hall in his honor. Rev. King David Solomon Pogue had a short tenure from 1946 to 1948.


Rev. Everett A. Hewlett became part-time minister in 1948, and the congregation extended the pastoral call to him and he was installed in June, 1949. The status of Sargent was raised from mission to independent church in 1954. The congregation outgrew the facility first occupied in 1930 and a new addition to the original building was dedicated to be used as a sanctuary and fellowship hall in 1960. A manse was purchased in l964 as the residence of the Pastor and his family. Rev. Hewlett’s ministry is remembered for the development of the church physically, spiritually, and a strict adherence to the principles of a dignified existence.


Rev. James L. Allen, Sr. accepted the call of the church and was installed in October 1974. His ministry emphasized leadership, spiritual and congregational growth, community outreach and music ministry. Under his leadership, a three story brick multipurpose building was dedicated in 1989 after several years of planning, fund raising and construction and fulfilled a long standing need for meeting, planning, rehearsal, administration and learning spaces for the congregation. Rev. Allen’s tenure as minister is the longest in the history of the church, and his patience, considerable attention, cultural awareness and love of God are highlights of his legacy.


Rev. Juan P. Guthrie accepted the call as Pastor/Head of Staff, was officially received by National Capital Presbytery on September 27, 2005, and installed as Pastor on November 6, 2005. He emphasizes the power of the Christian faith to sustain and give hope in the face of adversity–reminding us of the ever presence of God and that we are never alone. The Centennial Celebration in 2008 dedicated and renamed the Fellowship Hall to honor Rev. Everett A. Hewlett, and the Multipurpose Building was dedicated and renamed to honor Rev. James L. Allen, Sr. The names of the three longest-serving pastors have now been ensconced in the buildings of the church and in the hearts of its members. A new period of worship, work, and witness begins.