Elias Evangelical Lutheran Church, Emmitsburg
by Theresa Dardanell
“Elias Lutheran is a praying congregation.” During the Sunday service I attended, Pastor Jon Greenstone read aloud the names of those needing special prayers. The church newsletters and the Sunday bulletins include prayer requests for families in mourning, people in need of healing or encouragement, and those serving in the military. There is also a prayer hotline that Pastor Jon described as a “conference call.” It is available to anyone, anywhere, as long as you have a phone. It works like this: At 7:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month, just dial 712-451-0767 and use the access code 812928 to join the group. After listening to a scripture reading and comment, you are free to join the discussion, ask for prayers, offer encouragement, or just pray silently. The Prayer Shawl Ministry is yet another way to offer comfort to anyone in need due to illness, bereavement, hospitalization, or distress; the shawl maker will knit or crochet a shawl while offering prayers for the individual who will receive it. Pastor Jon described the moments that people receive the prayer shawl as a very moving and powerful experience. Recipients are visibly comforted by the actual shawl and the prayers that accompany it.
When asked about community outreach, parishioner Connie Fisher said, “If somebody in the community is in need, we pull together and help.”
Pastor Jon agreed and added that although the focus of outreach is the Emmitsburg community, “the congregation is willing to reach beyond these geographical boundaries to the ends of the earth.” In cooperation with other Emmitsburg churches and community members, they participate in the Food 4 Kids program, which provides weekend food for eligible children at Emmitsburg Elementary School and Emmitsburg Head Start. Food and financial contributions are made to the Emmitsburg Food Bank. Working with the Catoctin school district guidance counselors, members of the congregation prepare 18 Thanksgiving baskets (containing a complete holiday meal) for families in the community. They also support the Angel Tree Project at Christmas; this Seton Center ministry provides gifts for families and children in need. In addition to helping with the church outreach projects, the Elias Women’s Group distributes fruit baskets to shut-ins at Christmas, serves food during funeral luncheons, and provides teachers and materials for the Bible Study classes. They also provide health kits, containing toiletries and hygiene items, to Lutheran World Relief, an organization that distributes the kits worldwide where needed. The church has also sponsored Pastor Jon on four missionary trips to Kenya.
Fundraising events not only support church expenses and community service, they are a wonderful way to spend time with family and friends and enjoy delicious food. The annual yard sales/church suppers are held in the parish house on the first weekend in March and the first weekend in December. The suppers feature beef, ham, turkey, and all the trimmings, using recipes handed down from one generation to the next. Pastor Jon added, “Some folks come because the stewed tomatoes are so delicious. And the meat is provided by local farmers.” Residents at Lincoln on the Park and Seton Village greatly appreciate receiving delivery of the meals each year.
Church members make time for fun and fellowship. Family night in September features food and entertainment; everyone is welcome to bring a covered dish to share. The Elias Women’s Group meets for a luncheon, monthly. The annual Elias Men’s outing in August is a 60-plus-year tradition. Pastor Jon described the origin of the event, “It began as a fishing trip along the banks of the Monocacy River. The men had to catch their dinner. Soon, one man brought corn and produce from his garden. When the fishing got bad, things went to burgers and hot dogs. Elias men give credit to wives who have supplied many delicious side dishes over the decades.” If you like to dance or just listen to some great music, don’t miss the Dance Nights on October 19 and November 16.
The Elias Evangelical Lutheran Church congregation was established in 1757 in the Toms Creek area near Emmitsburg. In 1797, a stone church was built on the current site in Emmitsburg. In 2007, after many renovations, improvements, and additions to the church, the members celebrated the 250th anniversary of the beginning of the congregation.
The Sunday service begins at 10:00 a.m. and includes scripture readings, prayers, a sermon, and sharing of peace; Communion is offered on most Sundays. Inspirational music is an important part of the service. The voice choir, led by Cheryl Carney, sings traditional and contemporary songs; the handbell choir plays at most services. In addition to Sunday services, a brief Communion Service is held on Wednesdays at 9:30 a.m. The current Bible Study sessions are based on the book, A Woman God’s Spirit Can Guide.
Everyone is always welcome to attend any of the services, Bible studies, fundraising events, and social activities.
Elias Evangelical Lutheran Church is located at 100 W. North Avenue in Emmitsburg. For answers to any questions, call them at 301-447-6239 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pastor Jon Greenstone (on the right) and members of Elias Evangelical Lutheran Church.