Standing majestically along the hillside overlooking the historic town of Harpers Ferry and the picturesque Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, Camp Hill-Wesley United Methodist Church has long been a spiritual beacon to nearby residents and visitors alike. The church literally arose from the ashes of the Civil War.
During the Civil War, the “Blue Church”, as it was called, was located on Church Street in the lower town near St. Peter’s Catholic Church. It was severely damaged by Union soldiers in 1862-1863 and could never be used again for services.
In 1867 the War Department awarded the Methodist Protestants $2,000.00 and bricks from the destroyed Armory buildings with which to build a new church. After numerous funding and construction delays, the church on Camp Hill was finally completed in 1869. Church member Durrett Coates was killed during the razing of an armory wall at the ruins of the Hall’s Rifle Works on Virginius Island. He and others were scavenging bricks for the new construction.
The parsonage building, located next to the new church, was originally an Armory dwelling. It was purchased from the Armory in 1858. This building was torn down and a new one built on the same site in 1911. It has since been remodeled in 1981.
The sanctuary and new fellowship hall were dedicated in 1948. The benefactors for these additions were Mr. and Mrs. Charles T. Smith of Charles Town.
In 1968 Camp Hill Methodist Protestant Church became Camp Hill United Methodist Church.
In 2008, Barbara Osment, wife of Luther Osment, Pastor at the Camp Hill-Wesley United Methodist Church in Harpers Ferry, organized a small group of people (mostly from their congregation) that were interested in learning to play the mountain dulcimer. Currently, two other churches in Harpers Ferry are represented by the membership. These are St John’s Episcopal Church and St. Peter’s Catholic Church.
The group’s name was derived from an old hymn, “Oh Come, Angel Band”, written by Jefferson Hascall in 1860. This gospel spiritual is an uplifting hymn celebrating death. The song is written from the perspective of a dying person who calls to the angel band to bring them to their eternal home. It is a popular song performed by many folk and bluegrass artists. It is clearly a Christian hymn as it speaks of being saved through Jesus’ suffering and conveys the belief in eternal life.
As the group’s name implies, the music performed is predominantly spiritual in nature and includes many known hymnal favorites as well as newer contemporary spiritual songs.
The Angel Band plays the last Sunday of every month at the Camp Hill-Wesley UMC church service at 11:00AM.