Maryland Church-Community Project Makes Remarkable Progress, Reflects God’s Providence

 In All Church of God, Brotherhood Mutual, Change the Story, Chapter 4, CHOG, Loving and Serving, Northeast, The Way

By Carl Stagner

The Clarksburg Yard made CHOGnews headlines last year when the story of its inception and initial progress began to emerge. Clarksburg Church, led by Pastor Beth Wolff since June 2017, had rallied the congregation around several community-focused priorities, the grandest of which was dreamt out of a desire to address a specific major problem facing the fastest-growing city in the county. While home construction skyrocketed due to rapidly increasing demand, such an influx of new residents were left without the proper infrastructure to handle the needs of a community subsequent to shelter. Inspired and equipped in part by the Chapter 4 Institute, Beth Wolff and Clarksburg Church are becoming more and more essential in the eyes of their community as they celebrate several large strides forward in their efforts to offer safe space and services to local students, their families, and the general public.

Beth Wolff

Since work toward realization of The Clarksburg Yard began, Beth Wolff reports remarkable progress. Much of the progress has come in the form of grants from government and community foundations.

“We were able to secure a gift-in-kind grant in the amount of $50,000 from an organization called Nature Sacred, an arm of the TK Foundation,” Pastor Beth explains, “to help us create an amazing design plan for outdoor space of The Clarksburg Yard. While we might have just thrown up a stage, some tables, and a few trees, they walked us through a process of listening to the entire community for what the community longed for both functionally and aesthetically. They also heard our passion and vision as a church, and integrated design elements that spoke to who we believe God was calling us to be and become.”

In creative and intentional fashion, the church is anticipating the incorporation of several themes and core values into the design of the space. Clarksburg Church emphasizes what they call their “Rule of Life,” which is defined by the acronym B.E.L.L.S. The “B” stands for “Bless others,” the “E” stands for “Eat with others,” the “L” stands for “Listen to the Holy Spirit,” the second “L” stands for “Learn Christ,” and the “S” stands for “[be] Sent into the places you rest, work, and play.” To the amazement of church leadership, the design team was able to utilize bells as a prominent design theme for the play space.

“In the fall,” Pastor Beth continues, “we reached out to the congregation and the community to raise the initial $30,000. Because a generous donor offered to match the first $15,000 that was given, we were able to raise that money quickly. Additionally, we applied for a Maryland State Bond Bill Grant and were awarded $150,000 towards the project. The project was approved based on the reality that Clarksburg and the UpCounty area had been neglected and underfunded in terms of infrastructure, and this was a way to resolve a small part of the problem. We are hopeful that, this fall, Montgomery County will match those funds and we are continuing to look for additional funding to cover the remaining expenses.”

Café rendering

As a result of this funding, the church aims to break ground late summer or early fall on their “Phase 1” of the project, which will include a café and the immediate outdoor seating area.

Pastor Beth indicates she was thrilled upon learning they’d receive the Bond Bill. The process to be awarded such funds is complex, or at least seemingly out of reach for many; direct application isn’t possible. The project must be sponsored by state delegates from the Senate or House and, in order to get on their radar, local contacts must offer specific recommendations.

“Two years ago, quite reluctantly,” Pastor Beth recounts, “I became the PTA president for my child’s elementary school (one of eight elementary schools in Clarksburg). I had been involved in the school for the previous four years, but they really needed someone to help with reengagement post-COVID, and there wasn’t a lot of interest in leadership involvement. I actually made the decision to run while at a Chapter 4 gathering. We had been talking about meeting the needs of the community and this was clearly a very practical need in the community. Previously I had sworn that I would never be in a PTA board position, but I just really sensed God leading me to say yes to this.”

Designs on display at last December’s groundbreaking.

“To be clear,” she continues, “I never thought that decision would be key in helping us get The Clarksburg Yard built. But the PTA role put me in a position to do some huge advocacy work for the elementary school, which was 300-percent overutilized (nearly 900 kids in a school building built for 311, which meant only 11 bathroom stalls, and not enough portable classrooms available in the county to give each class a classroom). The advocacy work required to organize the community, get more portable classrooms and bathrooms, press the county to build the new elementary school that had been delayed, and create a pathway for parents to opt to send their child to another school (with bus transportation), put me at the table with a lot of local leaders. This included county councilpersons, the Board of Education, state delegates, and UpCounty coordinators. I also learned a lot about zoning laws, and some of deeper, more hidden reasons why our town is in the position it is in. In the end, it was this work that opened the doors for me to be able to get sponsored for the Bond Bill for The Clarksburg Yard.”

Incredible innovation is everywhere at Clarksburg Church. Much ministry continues, even in the active waiting for The Clarksburg Yard. A “Toy Library,” where the community can borrow—“check out”—toys for two-week intervals, is just one example of this church’s out-of-the-box imaginative spirit. A Student Gaming Club, after-school tutoring, free Zumba classes, a soccer program, and many more ministries propel the mission forward for this flourishing Maryland Church of God congregation.

“It is pretty incredible,” Pastor Beth reflects. “I am shocked and amazing at God’s leading. I never would have guessed any of this. But God knew what he was doing!”

Learn more about the Chapter 4 Institute at

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