Bro. David A. Fuller, chairman of the board of the ICUA of Md.

It was a century ago that members of three Baltimore churches – Ames United Methodist Church, Enon Baptist Church and Sharp Street United Methodist Church – gathered to form a church ushers organization that would break down denominational barriers.

From that meeting, Henry Sorrell organized the State of Maryland United Ushers on March 15, 1915, in Baltimore City. The group later became known as the Interdenominational Church Ushers Association of Maryland (ICUA), an interfaith Christian organization affiliated with the National United Church Ushers Association of America, Inc., and the Eastern Region Church Ushers Association. Sorrell remained an active member until his death in 1945.

Ms. Jesse Brown, president emeritus, 1976-1986 and Ernest Wilson, longest serving board members.

On April 11, the ICUA of Maryland celebrated its 100-year history with an historic gala at the La Fontaine Bleue in Lanham, Md., with more than 350 people in attendance.

“In our 100 years, the ICUA has made great strides by working tirelessly with hundreds of ushers across Maryland to ensure they are properly trained,” said Vanessa W. Lucas, president of the ICUA-Baltimore Unit and co-chair of the gala. “We also participate in community outreach and resource programs; feed and clothe the poor and elderly; provide educational resources for young people; promote spiritual growth; and encourage leadership development.

Overall view of guests and friends and the ICUA of MD at the LaFountaine Bleue, Lanham, Md.

“We have achieved a tremendous milestone and accomplished much in our 100-year history by walking in faith and putting God first,” she added.

Lucas said ushers are a vital part of the church worship experience and the ICUA has a proven track record of helping ushers of all denominations give their best service to God.

Charles J. Brown, regional director, receiving a Gold Plate from the State President, Cynthia Hicks, for outstanding and dedicated service.

“Ushering is an important job and a long-standing tradition in the African-American church,” she explained. “As ushers, we’re the first people that church visitors meet at the door. So, it’s important that we’re friendly and welcome them with a pleasant smile so they’ll come again.”

Ernest Wilson, longest serving board member, Cynthia Hicks, state president and Charles J. Brown, Eastern Regional director.

To be a good usher, Lucas said one must be trained. This training includes knowing the church’s program, being polite, courteous and alert, and keeping movement around the church to a minimum. Ushers are taught to communicate from a distance using signs and signals. Every usher that the ICUA trains is able to usher in any church in Maryland or around the country in a uniform manner.

“I’m excited as we prepare for the next 100 years by continuing to grow our organization and groom our junior ushers to be more actively involved,” Lucas said. “They are our future.”

The Rev. Dr. Cleveland T.A. Mason, pastor, Perkins Square Baptist Church.

During the 100th anniversary gala, the ICUA acknowledged 88-year-old Usher Jessie Brown of Perkins Square Baptist Church who was the first female president of the ICUA of Maryland – a position she held for 10 years. She is now president emeritus of the organization.

A surprise award recognition also was presented to 82-year-old Usher Ernest Wilson, Sr., of Enon Baptist Church who was named the ICUA’s first ‘Usher of the Year.” Wilson has been actively involved with the ICUA for over 52 years. He served on the Board of Trustees for the State of Maryland United Ushers and is now Board of Trustee emeritus for the ICUA of Maryland.

The ICUA is headquartered at 2212 Eutaw Place in Baltimore. Its School of Ushering meets every second and third Saturday of the month. To learn more, visit