Meaning “a place for us,” the name Rehoboth is a biblical word that comes from the Old Testament.
During a Sept. 17 presentation on religious congregations found in the city, Rehoboth Beach Museum Exhibit Manager Paula Roberts said for the better part of the past century, the definition of “us” has continued to expand.
Roberts said in many ways, as transportation options increased, so did the religious needs of those coming. She said getting to Rehoboth was time-consuming and expensive, so the people who came to the ocean-side town would stay for the whole summer.
The opening of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge’s first span in the early 1950s changed a lot of things, said Roberts. People could now make the trip in just a few hours, which meant day trips and long weekends were now a possibility.
There wasn’t just a population increase – the type of people coming to Rehoboth changed too, said Roberts. She said younger people and members of the LBGTQ community started coming to Rehoboth, in addition to the families who were already coming, and “us” became increasingly expansive.
The recent presentation was Part 2 of an exploration into the city’s religious roots. Part 1 took place Aug. 27, and included information on the congregations that set up shop near the beginning of the city’s formation, which was the 1870s. Those congregations included Epworth United Methodist Church, Faith United Methodist Church, The Episcopal Parish of All Saints’ Church and St. George's Chapel, and Saint Agnes by the Sea and Saint Edmond Catholic Churches.
The second discussion included information on area congregations that formed after the 1940s, such as Westminster Presbyterian Church, The Lutheran Church of Our Savior, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, Seaside Jewish Community and Metropolitan Community Church.
Roberts said Rehoboth has a long history of supporting religious observance, no matter a person’s race, gender or sexual identity. It’s a history to be proud of, she said.
Roberts said the plan is to have an exhibit at the museum with 10 weeks of lectures, covering each congregation; the scheduled opening is June 2021.
Part 1 and Part 2 of the presentation are available to view on the museum’s YouTube page. For more information, go to www.rehobothbeachmuseum.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 302-227-7310. The museum at 511 Rehoboth Ave. is currently closed to the public.