Saint John the Baptist Orthodox Church, Lewistown
by Theresa Dardanell
“1833…Rebuilt 1883.” That’s what you see on the cornerstone of the historic building that is now Saint John the Baptist Orthodox Church in Lewistown. Inside the church, you will find a small, but growing, congregation that includes young families with children, as well as members of the original parish that began as a small mission in 2005.
Although the chapel was originally a Methodist church, it became the home of the Lamb of God Charismatic Episcopal Church in 2005, under the leadership of Father James Hamrick. In 2009, they were received into the Orthodox Church and blessed as Saint John the Baptist Mission.
On the welcome page of the Saint John the Baptist Orthodox Church website, you will find the message: “We endeavor to bring the ancient Faith of Christ and the Apostles to the people of Frederick County and beyond.” Their Sunday service begins at 9:30 a.m. with “Matins,” which includes psalms, hymns, and readings. The Mass, according to the Rite of Saint Gregory, begins at 10:00 a.m. There are hymns, readings, prayers, a sermon, and communion. Visitors and friends are always welcome to attend Matins and Mass and, in the spirit of Christian fellowship, are invited to receive the priest’s blessing and blessed bread during communion. Fellowship continues after Mass with coffee hour. Once a month, everyone meets for a potluck dinner after Mass. The children are invited to move to the pews at the front of the church for the sermon. Father Hamrick speaks to the children, as well as to the adults, during his homily. The children’s education continues during children’s church on Saturdays.
Local and worldwide ministries are beneficiaries of the church. Monetary and food donations are given to the Thurmont Food Bank. The Antiochian Women of St. John the Baptist meet every other week for bible or book study and choose various service projects. They are in the planning stages of a program that will supply backpacks filled with supplies to various parishes. One of the previous service projects was a summer lunch program in Lewistown. Father Hamrick and one of the parishioners are members of the Order of St. Ignatius, a charitable order that provides funds for the support of seminarians, a camping ministry, prison fellowship, and Orthodox charities. Father Hamrick, a life member of the Guardian Hose Company and Thurmont Community Ambulance Company, serves as a Chaplain for the Guardian Hose Company.
Saint John the Baptist Orthodox Church is located in Lewistown at 11199 Angleberger Road. Their very informative website, stjohnbaptistorthodox.org, includes information about the Orthodox faith, an archive of sermons, the “Path to Sainthood” lecture series, as well as a calendar and contact information. Pre-recorded sermons are aired on Sunday mornings at 7:30 a.m. on WTHU.
Colleen Mcafee, parishioner and public relations coordinator for the Antiochian Women of the Mid Atlantic Diocese, said, “We know people who have been on lifelong journeys. They are searching for something more. This fullness of the faith that’s really found in Orthodoxy. We never say where the grace of God is not but we know that the grace of God is here. For anyone searching for the fullness of the faith, explore your local Orthodox Church.”
Pictured are Father James Hamrick (center, holding the baby), along with Deacon Stephen Kerr (next to Father James) and members of the parish.