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Christ’s Community Church, Emmitsburg

by Theresa Dardanell

From the outside, Christ’s Community Church doesn’t look like a traditional church. Don’t let that stop you from going inside. The people are friendly and welcoming. The building not only has a sanctuary for worship, but it also has several classrooms for children, a nursery available for babies and toddlers, a kitchen and fellowship dining hall, and a room set up as a coffee house. Many of the rooms have live projection to a TV so that the service can be viewed throughout the building. The best thing about the building, however, is what goes on inside.

The 10:30 a.m. Sunday service begins with prayers, music, and the opportunity to greet everyone. The very energetic praise team leads the congregation in uplifting and inspiring songs. After the scripture reading and announcements, the children move to the classrooms for age-appropriate lessons. Kids Connect Juniors (ages 2 to 5) enjoy a snack, activities, and crafts while learning about the Bible. Children, ages 6 to 12, participate in Kids Connect, where they learn about Bible stories through skits, videos, songs, and more. Communion is offered on the fourth Sunday of the month. After the message given by Pastor John Talcott, followed by a closing song and prayers, members gather in the dining hall for a meal and fellowship. Pastor John’s wife, Dana Talcott, said that sharing a meal every week helps build relationships.

Sunday services are only the beginning; there are activities for all ages during the week, and everything is open to members of the community. Every Wednesday, after a brief worship service at 7:00 p.m., adults meet for women’s Bible study or community Bible study. Kids Connect is available for children ages 2 to 12. The “Equip” class for middle-school students also meets during this time to encourage friendships and faith. The CCC Youth group, ages 12 to 18, headed by Brandon and Megan Fitz, meets on the second and fourth Fridays at 7:00 p.m. Brandon and Megan work together to provide a time for youth to connect with each other and encourage one another during worship, Bible study, and videos, as well as songs, games, snacks, and socialization. The Young Adult group for college students and young adults in their 20s and 30s meets monthly to encourage building relationships and growing together spiritually while having fun.

Along with Bible study, men and women enjoy many opportunities to socialize and encourage one another. Men are invited to participate in discipleship, evangelism, and leadership training, as well as retreats and mission trips; they also enjoy a monthly breakfast meeting. Members of the Women’s Ministry meet for breakfast and social activities. Julia Neel said that they also provide support to people in the community with meals, transportation, and prayers, when they hear of a special need. Once or twice a year, the women have the opportunity to attend a conference or retreat together.

There are lots of opportunities for fun and learning for children.   Members host the children’s area during the annual Emmitsburg Community Heritage Days festival, and provide games for the children during National Night Out, an annual partnership between police and the community. A very special event for children is the yearly Emmitsburg Community Day camp. Last year, the camp for children was held in July and featured crafts, stories, games, science experiments, water slides, a giant bubble machine, snow cones, and a trip to the Emmitsburg Community Pool. This year, the camp will run from Monday, July 13, through Friday, July 17. Children, ages 3 to 12, will enjoy games, crafts, stories, outdoor water play, snow cones, lunch and snacks, and lots more. Camp begins at 9:00 a.m. and ends at 3:00 p.m. The cost is only $30.00 for the entire week. Contact the Children’s Ministry for registration and payment information.

Pastor John Talcott said that community and ministry outreach includes support for the Seton Center; Emmitsburg Food Bank; Pennsylvania Delaware District Council of the Assemblies of God; Compassion International; Jason Jablonski Ministries; General Council of the Assemblies of God; Missionaries to Romania, as well as to Argentina; Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge; Convoy of Hope; Light for The Lost; and Speed the Light.

The church also has a special (but unconventional) ministry. It’s not a food bank…it’s called a food pantry because the food is in an actual pantry cabinet like you would see in a kitchen; yet, the cabinet is on the outside of the building. Dana Talcott said that Brittany Fritz of Miss B’s Family Child Care contacted the church with the idea of a pantry that is well-stocked with non-perishable food that is free for anyone to take at any time. Mrs. Talcott said that they are thankful to the community and church members for keeping it filled.

Christ’s Community Church is located at 303 West Lincoln Avenue in Emmitsburg. Check out their very extensive website at Along with calendar and contact information, you will find sermons, articles, videos, and more.

Members of Christ’s Community Church.

MorningStar Family Church, Thurmont

by Theresa Dardanell

“Feeling welcome” does not begin to describe my visit to MorningStar Family Church.  I was greeted with hugs as soon as I walked in the door. As more members arrived, they also welcomed me warmly. During the service, the members unhurriedly spent time greeting one another with handshakes and hugs. 

Pastor Donna Sandridge and several members met with me before the service.  When asked what they wanted people to know about their church, everyone was eager to share their thoughts. 

Diana Wetklow said, “I love my church. It’s a place where you can come and be with everybody and know Jesus is there.”

Harry Wetklow considers everyone in the church as members of a family. 

Debbie Reckley said, “If you are sick or going through a hard time, let us pray with you and let us help you. When somebody comes here, we welcome them, we disciple them, put our arms around them, and help them anyway we can.” 

Dave Reckley added that the church demonstrates that God’s word is relevant in today’s world.

Mark Olson said, “We are a big family. We love people and are here to serve.”

Jamea Gouker talked about the thank-you cards and phone calls they have received from grateful people who have come to the church and felt so much better when they left. 

Rick Sanders, a member for 20 years, said that he loves the church because they are a family.

Pastor Donna said, “We are a loving, giving church. We endeavor to preach the word and reach the community to let them know that Jesus loves them and that we love them, and that this is a place that they can come and feel at home and feel welcome and feel loved.”

The Sunday service begins with songs of praise, led by a talented group of musicians, and continues with announcements by Pastor Donna. Everyone is then invited to request prayers for those in need or give thanks for blessings received. Songs of thanksgiving are followed by a scripture reading and a sermon.  During the sermon, the children move to another room to participate in children’s church with a Bible story, activities, and a snack. Everyone enthusiastically joins in the final song. 

Bible study, open to everyone, on Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m., is led by members of the congregation, with active participation by all. The Ladies Ministry meets on a Saturday once a month for a meeting, together with a brunch. Along with their charitable work, Diana Wetklow said that they “lift one another up and have a really good time.” Their annual dinner in the spring includes skits, music, and a fashion show. Once a month, everyone is invited to a fellowship dinner after the Sunday service.

Although the congregation is small, their generosity is abundant.  Local organizations that they support include: Catoctin High School Safe and Sane, Thurmont Food Bank, Catoctin Schools supply drive and summer lunch program, Care Net Crisis Pregnancy Center of Frederick, Faith House, and the Thurmont United Methodist Church Clothes Closet. They also help individuals and families in need with food, gas, shelter, and home and vehicle repairs.  During the Christmas holiday, members deliver cookies, candy, gifts, and meals. The Annual Giveaway Day on the first Saturday in June is like a yard sale, but everything is absolutely free. 

International aid includes donations to several of the Samaritan’s Purse outreach programs:  disaster relief, wells for clean water, gifts of livestock to communities in need, and help for injured Veterans through Operation Heal Our Patriots.  Shoe boxes full of small toys, hygiene items, and school supplies are sent to Operation Christmas Child, which distributes them to children affected by war, poverty, natural disasters, famine, and disease.  Several of the members create feminine hygiene products for Days for Girls International, a global project that prepares and distributes sustainable menstrual health products to girls in over 100 countries where these items are not readily available. The church has provided support for mission trips to Russia, Venezuela, Philippines, Nigeria, Haiti, Belize, Portugal, Mexico, and Brazil, and financial aid to a considerable number of charitable organizations around the world.  Military personnel receive special care packages when they are deployed overseas and during the holidays. 

The church has an interesting history. The Reverend Wade Sandridge and Donna Sandridge began by preaching during a meeting in 1979 at the Blue Mountain Inn. As the congregation expanded, they met in many different locations, including a home, a tent, a schoolhouse, and a basement. The church was officially established in 1981. After the current property on Albert Staub Road was purchased, construction of the church began in 1996. The first service in the new building was held in 1999. After Pastor Wade passed away in 2005, Donna became pastor. 

MorningStar Family Church is located at 14698 Albert Staub Road in Thurmont.  Sunday morning worship at 10:45 a.m. follows morning prayer at 10:00. Everyone is welcome to attend services, Bible study, and all activities and events.

Members of MorningStar Family Church.

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

Pastor Jon Greenstone (on the right) and members of Elias Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Mountain View Ministries Church of God

by Theresa Dardanell

Support of local, national and international missions and evangelism is important to the members of Mountain View Ministries Church of God, but Pastor Jeff Shaw said, “The number one outreach is leading people to Christ and then mentoring them in order that they may grow in the Lord.  One way we do this is through a 4-week discipleship program, which enlightens people to find the will of God for their life.” 

Their uplifting Sunday service begins with inspiring contemporary music led by Worship Music Director Sissie Jerrell and the Praise Team with guitar, keyboard and drum accompaniment.  Reverend Shaw continues the service with announcements and a call to pray for members in need. Pastor Shaw’s reading of Scripture and his accompanying message are met with enthusiastic calls of “Praise the Lord” and “Amen” from the congregation.  Once a month, the service concludes with Communion. Revival Sundays this year will feature guest pastors: Pastor Robert Redford on October 20 and Pastor Jerry Price on October 27. Christian song writer Willis Canada will be featured in concert during Revival Sunday on November 3. 

Locally, the church donates to Catoctin High School Safe and Sane and the Thurmont Police Department.  On the first Sunday of every month, the Pastor Shaw and members visit the residents of Moser Manor in Thurmont to provide a meal, a message, and fellowship.  They provide financial support to many of the Church of God ministries including Youth World Evangelism Action, Church of God International Women’s Ministries and the children’s home in Tennessee.  National and international financial support also includes Operation Christmas Child, Samaritan’s Purse, Kibera Kids center in Africa for AIDS orphans, and the Wycliffe organization which helps people translate the Bible into their own languages.

Everyone is invited to join in all events and activities.  The annual “Blessing Day” in July is like a yard sale with tables of clothes and household items set up in front of the church, but it’s even better because everything is free!  During the winter, families get together for movie nights in the church. A giant splash pad, basketball, ladder ball, and corn hole were the activites during family fun days this summer.  The annual picnic will be held this year on September 15 after the morning service; join them for food, fun and fellowship.

Pastor Jeff Shaw and Meredyth Shaw began their ministry, originally named Thurmont Church of God, in their home in 1992.  The church relocated several times over the years; the current church building was dedicated in 1997 and renamed Mountain View Ministries.  It began with 13 charter members. The congregation has grown since that time but Joe and Colleen Tumulty have been with the church since the beginning.   When I spoke to Joe Tumulty about the practice of adult baptism in the church, he explained the doctrine of “believer’s baptism” which is baptism for people who make the choice to receive the Lord as Savior.  They are then encouraged to seek the baptism of the Spirit.

Mountain View Ministries is located at 103 Apples Church Road in Thurmont.  They would love to hear from you; call them at 301-271-9088 or email  You will find lots of additional information on their website,, including a calendar of events, a message from Pastor Shaw, a declaration of faith and the mission statement: “At Mountain View Ministries, we will be equipping believers and carrying out our vision by acceptance, prayer,  worship, Bible study, leadership, spiritual gifts and counseling care.”

Pastor Shaw (pictured in back row, with white shirt and tie) and members of Mountain View Ministries Church of God.

Germantown Church of God

by Theresa Dardanell

On Sunday, August 25, take a scenic drive to a historic mountaintop church in Cascade and join the members of the Germantown Church of God for the Sunday worship service and a community picnic. Of course, the invitation to join them is not limited to August 25. Pastor Mark Hosler said that everyone is welcome at all times for worship, fellowship, study, and service. 

When the original church was built in 1871, Cascade was known as Germantown. The present-day church was built in 1948, and the cemetery is now located where the original church stood. When the congregation celebrated the 100th anniversary in 1971, the new educational wing was dedicated. A Family Life Center was added in 1996. 

The additional space gives the members lots of room for the Sunday School classes, Bible study, social events, service projects, and an impressive library. Sunday School classes are held after the 9:30 a.m. service. There is one class for small children, one class for the youth, and three classes for adults. The Women’s Ministry meets on the first Tuesday of every month; Bible study follows a brief business meeting. Banquets and breakfasts are held in the Family Life Center. Bible School for children ages three through sixth grade will be held August 5-9, and will feature uplifting music, inspiring Bible lessons, games, and snacks. The library, located in the educational wing, is actually two rooms, filled with DVD’s and books for adults and children. Historical items are on display in one of the rooms. Church librarian E. Joy Poling said that there are currently 11,500 items in the library, with more added every month. Subjects include fiction, non-fiction, history, inspiration, and christian living.

Service to others includes helping church members, as well as supporting local and worldwide community organizations and missions.

A ride to Sunday services for several members without transportation is provided by one of the parishioners. On the third Wednesday of each month, members worship together and then serve a meal to the guests and residents at the Hagerstown Rescue Mission. “Food for the First” on the first Sunday of every month gives everyone the opportunity to donate money and food for the Help Hotline Food Bank. The church generously participates in the Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child shoebox program, which provides gifts of toys, school supplies, and hygiene items for children all over the world. They also provide financial support to worldwide missions and missionaries; a portion of the church income is designated for this purpose.

Mission trips by members are part of the ministry and have included trips to New Mexico, Haiti, and South Africa. Also, one church family has traveled to areas where natural disasters have occurred to provide assistance.

There are lots of opportunities for fellowship. Movie nights, summer campfires, dinners, and breakfasts are some of the social activities enjoyed by all.

The Sunday service at 9:30 a.m. includes reflection, announcements, prayers, scripture reading and message, and contemporary and traditional music with piano and organ accompaniment. Communion is offered once a month.

Christian Education Director Ann Donatto said that children through third grade are invited to participate in children’s church, where they can experience a worship service designed for them. A nursery is also available. 

Coming up on Sunday, August 4, the service will feature the Gospel group, Daystar. 

Pastor Mark Hosler expressed, “Our purpose is to move people toward Jesus through worship services, Sunday school, and service projects. Jesus can bring healing and restoration and wholeness to people’s lives. We want to move people toward him.”

Visit the Germantown Church of God at 16924 Raven Rock Road in Cascade or call 301-241-3050. 


Pastor Mark Hosler (front row, left) with members of the Germantown Church of God.

Tom’s Creek United Methodist Church

by Theresa Dardanell

Rev. Heath Wilson (back row, on left) with members of Tom’s Creek United Methodist Church

 Photos by Theresa Dardanell

“Come Journey With Us!” is the invitation from Reverend Heath Wilson and the members of the Tom’s Creek United Methodist Church (TCUMC) in Emmitsburg.  The invitation is not limited to Sunday worship services. Weekly Bible studies, community outreach programs, fundraisers, and social events are open to everyone. 

One of the most interesting events is the weekly “Faith and Fellowship” Bible study/book group, led by Pastor Wilson. You won’t find this group meeting at the church; they meet at a restaurant that is part of the Lorien Health Services, a nursing, assisted living and rehabilitation community in Taneytown. Lorien residents are joined by church members, family, and friends every Thursday from 3:00-4:00 p.m. If you are looking for an evening Bible study/book group for women, check out the current Ladies Bible Study that began on June 4 and will continue until July 30. Using the book, Living a Chocolate Life: A Bible Study for Women by Debra Burma, the discussions about God’s grace are centered around the theme of chocolate.

Parishioners are involved in local and worldwide community outreach programs. The Emmitsburg Food Bank is especially close to the hearts of the members. They not only provide monetary and food donations, they have recently started a drive to collect toiletries and household items that are not normally donated but that are urgently needed. Church member Phyllis Kelly, who runs the Emmitsburg Food Bank, is often joined by other volunteers who belong to the church. Other local organizations which receive help from Tom’s Creek United Methodist Church are: the Seton Center, the Catoctin Pregnancy Center, and the Catoctin High School Blessing in a Backpack program. 

TCUMC is fortunate to have a large property, complete with an outdoor altar, church benches, and a pavilion, approximately two miles from the church. “The Promised Land,” located off Route 140 just east of Emmitsburg, is used for outdoor services, concerts, and other events. It is also the site of a rest stop for the Face of America bicycle ride each spring. During this two-day bicycle and hand-cycling challenge for adaptive and able-bodied athletes, riders travel 112 miles from Arlington, Virginia, to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. At Tom’s Creek Promised Land, the riders can spend time resting and enjoying snacks and beverages. Everyone in the community is invited to join the TCUMC members in cheering on the riders during this event.

The Tom’s Creek United Methodist Women (UMW) are busy with community service projects, as well as social events. They recently provided a meal for the Seton Center’s “Getting Ahead Program,” which helps individuals impacted by poverty to build resources needed for a better life. They also worked together to make feminine hygiene products for “Days for Girls International,” a global project that prepares and distributes sustainable menstrual health products to girls in areas where these items are not readily available. The UMW members also hold birthday parties, ice cream and pizza socials, and the well-attended annual picnic.

Mission trips are an important part of the worldwide community outreach. Church members will be traveling to the Navajo Nation in New Mexico in July this year. The project involves not only actual construction (the addition of a bathroom to the church), but also the building of relationships between communities. Previously, teams traveled to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

Linda Myers, Christian Education chairperson, said that one of the strengths of the church is their education program.  Sunday school for all ages is held year-round, from 9:30-10:15 a.m. every Sunday. There are four classes for children and eight classes for adults, so there is something for everyone. 

Watch for ads in The Catoctin Banner for their annual fundraisers. The all-you-can-eat buffet breakfasts include eggs, pancakes, sausage and bacon, home fries, chip beef gravy, and more; delicious handmade chocolate peanut butter eggs and chocolate coconut eggs are for sale at Easter. The turkey and oyster family-style suppers feature roast turkey, fried oysters, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetables, and their famous cracker pudding.

Sunday services are held at 8:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. The adult choir, accompanied by organ and piano, sings at the early service. Praise song, along with the passing of the peace, is featured at the later worship service.  Communion is offered on the first Sunday of the month, and everyone is welcome to receive it. Coffee hour after the 8:00 a.m. service is a time of hospitality and refreshments in the Fellowship Hall. Members Karen Wivell and Bill Coburn agree that Tom’s Creek United Methodist Church is a friendly and welcoming community that feels like a family.

TMUMC is located at 10926 Simmons Road in Emmitsburg.  For more information, visit the website at or Facebook page: tomscreekumc.

St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, Sabillasville

by Theresa Dardanell

“Small but mighty” was the way that the parishioners described St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Sabillasville, when I met with them after a recent Sunday service.

Their Facebook page gives this description: “We are a small church. But, that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Small churches can provide a level of intimacy of family that might be missing in a larger setting. That is, by far, what we do best at St. Mark’s. We are diverse, and yet, close as sister and brother.” 

Interim Pastor Ray Shriver said that the warm and caring members are very open and welcoming to new people.

Their small congregation is very involved with community outreach. They provide financial support to the HELP Hotline, an organization which serves people in Sabillasville, Cascade, Blue Ridge Summit, and the surrounding areas, with a food and clothing bank, as well as limited financial assistance with electric, heat and rent bills. They provide financial assistance to the Community of St. Dysmas, a Lutheran congregation in the Maryland Correctional System; they also visit the prisoners and participate in the after-care program for released prisoners. Monetary donations are provided to the Emmitsburg Council of Churches to benefit medical mission trips to Kenya.   

Young people of the parish participate in service to the community and have fun at the same time. The Mountain Top Youth Group is sponsored by St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, St. John’s United Church of Christ in Sabillasville, and Living Word Ministries in Blue Ridge Summit. The young people cook food for shelter residents, help with outdoor and indoor chores for elderly neighbors, and donate Christmas gifts to the HELP Hotline. They enjoy camping trips, paint events, parties, and an annual “lock in,” where they can stay up all night (with the help of adult chaperones) doing crafts, playing games, watching movies, and just hanging out with friends. Children are not the only ones who enjoy activities at the church. On the third Thursday of every month, retirees are invited for food, fellowship, and Bingo during the Senior Lunch.

Fundraising events support the church and the community outreach projects. The popular Strawberry Festival and yard sale held in May each year features soups, sandwiches, and baked goods, and, of course, strawberry pies and shortcake. The members keep very busy baking at other times during the year. Look for their bake tables at the Sabillasville Elementary School MountainFest in October and at the Ft. Ritchie Community Center Holiday Bazaar in December. 

St. Mark’s history began with services held in the home of Levi Lichtenberger in 1892. The church was built the following year; many of the original parishioners helped to build the church. The membership eventually grew to 100 active members, but gradually declined. The current membership is between 20 and 30, and their numbers include lifelong members and young families with children.

Sunday morning worship services are held at 9:15 a.m. The regular Sunday services, with traditional hymns and organ accompaniment, are held in the church. 

Once a month, Muffins with Ministers, a more informal service, is held in the social hall; it begins with a delicious breakfast of casseroles, fruit, pastries, and beverages, and continues with contemporary music, the scripture readings, prayers, and the Gospel.  

St. Mark’s Lutheran Church is located at 17015 Sabillasville Road in Sabillasville. 

Visit their website at for directions to the church and for contact information.

To see lots of photos and get information about previous and upcoming events, please visit the Facebook pages @stmarkssabillasville and @mountaintopyouthgroup.

Members of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, along with Interim Pastor Ray Shriver (front row on left) and visiting Pastor Carl Fulmor (front row on right).

Saint Anthony Shrine and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Parishes

by Theresa Dardanell

A Pastorate—two churches with one pastor. Saint Anthony Shrine (SAS) in Emmitsburg and Our Lady of Mount Carmel (OLMC) in Thurmont began as independent parishes; the dedication of the church in Thurmont was held on June 5, 1859, and the dedication of the church in Emmitsburg was held on October 26, 1897.  However, in 1987, they joined together to become one pastorate, with Father Edward Hemler as the pastor. He was succeeded by Father Leo Tittler in 1992, Father James Hannon in 2001, and Father Colin Poston—the current pastor—in 2016. Each church maintains a historic cemetery; the cemetery at Saint Anthony Shrine includes the graves of several members of the family of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. 

Both parishes work together as one. The mass schedule gives parishioners the option to attend mass at either church. Mass is celebrated at SAS on Saturdays at 4:00 p.m. and Sundays at 9:00 a.m., and celebrated on Sundays at OLMC at 7:30 a.m. in the church and at 11:00 a.m. in the parish center. The Catholic Mass includes readings, prayers, a homily, a chance to share a greeting of peace, and communion. Music is an integral part of the service, with a choir or a cantor and organist leading the congregation in song. 

Members of both parishes share religious education, social outreach programs, and fundraisers.  Funds donated by parishioners are distributed to organizations, including the local food bank, the Seton Center, the Catoctin Pregnancy Center, the St. Vincent DePaul Society, and Catholic Charities.  Volunteers visit homebound parishioners. Once a month, members provide casseroles to the Frederick Rescue Mission. The parish youth have the opportunity to serve by participating in the Baltimore Work Camp, where they spend a week during the summer refurbishing homes for people in need, in and around the Baltimore area. This program, which is open to youth in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, is organized by Saint Anthony Shrine parish.

Religious education includes classes for children and adults.  Students in kindergarten through grade eight meet on Sunday mornings. Students in ninth grade participate in confirmation preparation. Vacation Bible School is open to any student in Kindergarten through fifth grade, and will be held this year in July. Middle school and high school students who are members of the youth ministry meet regularly for faith discussions, as well as social activities like paintball, bowling and ski trips. Adult Bible study is held on Thursday nights. RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) is a process for adults to prepare to be fully initiated into the Catholic faith. This process is open to adults who have not been baptized, who have been baptized in a non-catholic denomination and wish to become Catholic, or baptized Catholics who have not received Eucharist and/or Confirmation. 

Everyone in the community is welcome to attend the many fundraising events held at both churches. Food and fun are the ingredients of these activities. You can enjoy delicious food provided by the Knights of Columbus at the community breakfasts, the Shrove Tuesday meal, and the Lenten fish bakes. Don’t miss the Colorfest food stand or the Labor Day picnic at Our Lady of Mount Carmel church. Try your luck at Bingo or look for hidden treasures at the yard sales that are held at Saint Anthony Shrine at various times during the year. Look for information about upcoming events in The Catoctin Banner.

Father Colin said, “We are a very welcoming community in the Catholic tradition. People who come here seem to enjoy it and find a family here. Everybody is welcome to come here and be a part of our family and to grow in the Lord and experience the beauty of the Catholic Faith.” Deacon Joe Wolf added, “It is a community. It is where you can turn to in time of need and in time of joy. We try to share all of that with each other.”

Saint Anthony Shrine is located at 16150 St. Anthony Road in Emmitsburg; Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church is located at 103 North Church Street in Thurmont. The parish office is located at SAS, and their phone number is 301-447-2367. Their very informative website at provides additional information about the history of both parishes, the patron saints of each church, the sacraments, religious education, special events, and much more. 

Pictured from left are James (Rex) Davis; Father Collin Poston, holding Otto; Deacon Joe Wolf; Karen Davis; and Cindy Wivell in front of Saint Anthony Shrine in Emmitsburg.

                                                                                                                                Photos by Theresa Dardanell

St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church

by Theresa Dardanell

Fellowship Sunday…a truly unique experience.  On the first Sunday of each month, the members of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church attend a service that combines worship and hospitality. One long table in the Fellowship Hall is lined with pastries, donuts, fruit, coffee, and other breakfast treats; members sit at round tables throughout the room and are invited to enjoy breakfast before and after the service. Worship begins with announcements and a prayer; “Sharing of the Peace” gives everyone a chance to walk around the room and greet one another; the service continues with hymns, prayers, scripture reading, a conversation about the scripture by Pastor Matthew Beers, and communion. Since breakfast continues after the service ends, nobody is in a hurry to leave.

A more formal traditional service is held on the last Sunday of every month in the church. Sunday services on the weeks between Fellowship Sunday and Traditional Service Sunday are also held in the church. Pastor Matt wants St. John’s to be a place where people can encounter God and find answers to the questions: “Why am I here, why do I do what I do, why do I live the way I live?”And they leave St. John’s knowing that “God loves me and cares about me so that I can go about caring about others and loving others.”

St. John’s history actually began in 1760 at Apple’s Church in Thurmont, when the Lutheran and Reformed congregations shared the building. In 1858, the Lutheran congregation built a new church and moved to the current location on Church Street in Thurmont (known at that time as Mechanicstown).  Over the years, the Mechanicstown Lutheran Church was remodeled and modernized extensively and also expanded to include an educational wing. In 1958, the name of the church was changed to St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church. 

As a part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), members support various charitable causes. They participate in the ELCA Good Gifts Program, which supplies communities overseas with items like pigs, goats, seeds, and farming equipment to help lift people out of poverty with sustainable living. They work with the Thurmont Ministerium to help meet local community needs, collect canned goods for the Thurmont Food Bank, and make an annual Thanksgiving donation to the Seton Center in Emmitsburg. Pastor Matt said that although the congregation is small, they “try to make a meaningful impact with the funds that we have.” 

Proceeds from annual fundraising events help to support the church. If you find yourself at the Thurmont Plaza Shopping Center (between CVS and Dollar General) on the day before Easter, you will find delicious baked goods and lovely potted flowers for sale by the fundraising committee. Look for hidden treasures during their Colorfest yard sale at the church. In the fall, watch for the banner in front of the church advertising the “Party of Parties” that is held in October. Attendees enjoy a buffet lunch, while home party consultants demonstrate their products.

St. John’s Christian Preschool classes are held in the school rooms in the church building. Classes are open to everyone and are all inclusive. Classes for two-year-olds are held Monday and Friday mornings. Three- and four-year-old children attend classes on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings or afternoons.  The website describes the school’s mission as “providing a program developed and centered around God’s love of children. Our belief is that the total person must grow physically, intellectually, emotionally, socially, and spiritually in order to experience life to the fullest.” Classes for two- and three-year-old students have three teachers; classes for the four-year-olds have two teachers. Tammy Tigler, who is the administrative assistant and one of the teachers, said, “Every child is unique. We strive to meet their needs. We love our jobs; we love our kids.” Registration for the 2019-2020 school year is open now. Call the preschool at 301-271-4109 for more information or to schedule a visit.

St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church is located at 15 N. Church Street in Thurmont. Sunday services begin at 9:00 a.m., and everyone is welcome to attend. For more information, visit the website at

Pastor Matthew Beers (front row, on right) and members of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church.

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,, 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.

by Theresa Dardanell

Photos by Theresa Dardanell

“Something for everyone” is a perfect way to describe the Clothes Closet, run by the Thurmont United Methodist Church (TUMC). It also describes the church, itself. When I arrived early for a 10:30 a.m. Sunday service at the church, I spent a few minutes reading the December newsletter. Along with information about the Clothes Closet and the traditional and contemporary Sunday worship services, there were details about the many weekly Bible studies and various small groups for all ages, as well as Christian education classes for adults and children, several committees, and plenty of family fellowship events.

Sunday morning at TUMC begins with the 9:00 a.m. traditional worship service, featuring beautiful organ music. At 10:30 a.m., the contemporary service begins with a group of singers and musicians leading the congregation in joyful upbeat music. After announcements by Pastor Bob Hunter, members of the congregation share messages of joy and requests for prayers. The service continues with a reading, prayers, a sermon, and communion.   Everyone is welcome to attend the “Sunday school for all ages,” from 9:00-10:00 a.m. A group of dedicated teachers makes it possible to provide seven separate classes each week: babies under two years old; toddlers, ages two to four; students in kindergarten through third grade; children in fourth and fifth grades; students in grades sixth through twelfth. Adults can choose from two sessions led by C.J Cordell and Tim Olsen. Coffee and conversation is the focus of fellowship time between the 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. services.

Pastor Bob said that there are two things that the church does best. The first is that 10 percent of all gifts and tithes support Christian charities. Donations help to fund missions and missionaries, as well as local organizations, including the Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity, the Catoctin Community Medical Fund, Thurmont Ministerium, the Marriage Resource Center of Frederick, and the Alan P. Linton, Jr. Emergency Shelter.  The second thing they do really well is the Clothes Closet, which has been in operation for over forty years. It began in one small room, but quickly outgrew the space and was moved to a larger area when the church moved to its current location on Long Road. As the need grew and donations increased, the church built the Community Clothes Closet building, which opened in 2012. Donations from the congregation, along with members of the community, fully stock the “free-to-shop” building that is open the first and fourth Monday of each month, from 6:00-7:30 p.m., and the third Tuesday of each month, from 10:00-11:30 a.m. There is a bin outside the building to drop off donations. The mission of the Clothes Closet is to “carry God’s love to the people in the Thurmont community and beyond through love, prayer, and free clothing.”

When I visited on December 2, 2018, the members were preparing for the annual Christmas Open House. One very large room in the church building was filled with donated toys, games, wrapping paper, and decorations to be given for free to families in need. During the open house, Christmas music played in the background and childcare and an interpreter were available.

The Christian education program does not end on Sundays. There are five small groups that meet weekly for fellowship, prayer, and education. Pastor Bob leads Bible study on Wednesdays, the youth group meets on Sunday evenings, and other groups meet at various locations. Tim Olsen said that the participants in the groups support and nurture and pray for one another.

There are also opportunities for members in the kids choir, the secret sisters, and the monthly retired and senior citizens luncheon. The church also supports the Good News Club, an after school activity at Thurmont Elementary School. Monthly family fellowship events provide another way for the members to spend time together. Some of the previous events include a beaded bracelet class and Christmas caroling. The first events in 2019 will be Game Night on January 11 and Movie Night on February 8.

The Thurmont United Methodist Church is located at 13880 Long Road in Thurmont. The church is beautiful; it is large, modern, and handicap accessible.  The site includes a pavilion, the impressive Clothes Closet building, and plenty of parking. Next time you have clothes to donate, remember that everything given to the clothes closet is free to anyone who needs it.

If you are looking for a church that offers “something for everyone,” visit the Thurmont United Methodist Church and see for yourself.

Apples United Church of Christ Thurmont

by Theresa Dardanell

In 1760, Peter Apple donated one acre of land for a school that was also used as a church on Sundays. This location has been a place of worship for over 250 years and is now known as Apples United Church of Christ.

A log church was built on the same ground in 1765; renovations and additions were made until 1826, when a new stone church was built, with much of the labor provided by churchgoers. For several years, the church was known as Troxells Church; the name was chosen by members of the two leading church families:  the Troxells and Firors. The original name, Apples, was later restored. Renovations continued over the years and an education building was added in 1965. The adjoining cemetery contains the graves of early settlers, as well as soldiers from the revolutionary and civil wars. Many of the headstones are written in German and several list birth dates in the 1600s. The church historian, Roger Troxell, is available to help people with genealogy research.

Keeping the church history alive was only a small part of the conversation with Pastor Laura Robeson and members of the congregation when I met with them after attending a recent Sunday service. They are proud of their commitment to outreach programs. Locally, they support the Thurmont Food Bank and the Ministerium. They also give an annual gift of $500 each to two Catoctin High School (CHS) graduates during the senior awards program; the students are chosen by the CHS guidance counselors. Two international agencies are recipients of their generosity. Through donations to Compassion International, they sponsor a child who is then provided with medical care, food, education, mentoring, and access to the gospel. Donations to Heifer International over the years have provided six ARKs. The gift of an ARK includes two water buffalos, two cows, two sheep, two goats, two oxen, two pigs, two ducks, two guinea pigs, two llamas, two schools of fish, bees, chicks, rabbits, and an animal vet kit. The ARK provides the community with milk, honey, eggs, and wool, and an income from the abundance of goods that they can then sell; it also sustains farming by providing livestock to work the land.

Funds to support the outreach projects comes from direct donations, as well as the very popular fundraiser held on the Friday and Saturday of Colorfest weekend. Volunteers spend many hours preparing apple turnovers, apple pies, cookies, and breads for the bake sale. People in the community donate lots of items for the yard sale. Along with the bake sale and yard sale, food is served in the pavilion on the church grounds. Everyone works together to make this a success. Mike Mathis said that people just do whatever needs to be done. LuAnne Ewing added, “Current members deeply appreciate the members who have passed away who were an intricate part of Colorfest.” Another yard sale is held in the pavilion in May; proceeds from this fundraiser are used to help a family or person in need in the community.  Pastor Robeson said that the members of the congregation are “a loving, generous group of people who really try to act out their Christian faith in the community beyond just the church.”

Visit the Apples UCC Thurmont Facebook page to see how important music is to the congregation. Videos posted to the site show that they love music and they love to sing. However, during the annual Christmas program on December 23, singing is not the only talent on display. Adults and children are given an opportunity to get up on stage, possibly for the first time. Performances are not limited to singing, storytelling, reciting poetry, or playing an instrument.  The real purpose of the event is the guarantee of “thunderous” applause for every performer.

Apples UCC is located at 7908 Apples Church Road in Thurmont. Everyone is welcome to attend the 9:30 a.m. Sunday service. Once a month, during the service, children’s time is held. Weekly adult Sunday school begins at 10:45 a.m.; Pastor Robeson said that they focus on the study of the bible, but they also “talk about how the word transfers to their daily life and how it influences everything around them. It helps to deepen their faith and deepen their ideas about how to conduct themselves during the week.”

Pastor Laura Robeson (front row, right) with members of Apples United Church of Christ.

St. Stephen’s United Church of Christ, Cascade

by Theresa Dardanell

How does a church with a small congregation not only exist — but thrive — for over 125 years? St. Stephen’s United Church of Christ has continued to flourish, because it’s not only a place to worship but also a place where the community comes together.

The church celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2017. Originally named St. Stephen’s Reformed Church, it was built in 1892. Over the years, there were additions and renovations. Stained glass windows were installed, and a new organ was purchased; the kitchen, bathroom, and offices were remodeled. These improvements added to the beauty and functionality of the church. The addition of a community prayer room and a pavilion, complete with an additional kitchen, transformed the church into a community gathering place.

The annual Fall Festival, which features food, music, games, and an auction, is a popular community event. The pulled pork and beef sandwiches, homemade soups, French fries, ice cream, and baked goods receive great reviews on Facebook. After current renovations are complete, the community prayer room will be open day and night to provide a quiet place for prayer and meditation. The facilities are also used by a local group for A.A. meetings. Vacation Bible School is usually held at St. Stephen’s; this year, a joint Vacation Bible School was held at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Rouzerville, Pennsylvania. Christmas is a special time for children attending Cascade Elementary School (CES); a Santa shop is set up either at the church or at the school. Members of the congregation provide sweet treats and inexpensive gifts that the children can purchase in secret for loved ones.

Members of the congregation are generous with contributions for local and worldwide needs. They donate food and household items to the CES food pantry; they purchase Christmas gifts for residents at Homewood and also for families in need at CES. Donations from local businesses and members of the congregation were assembled in emergency clean-up buckets that were sent to Church World Service and distributed to areas affected by natural disasters. A bake sale at Sabillasville Elementary School during Mountain Fest weekend provides some of the funds for these contributions.

Pastor Beth Firme said, “The people in this church truly have a heart for the work that God is giving them to do. They don’t let their numbers or lack of numbers stop them. They’re not afraid to work. They’re not afraid to share. They’re welcoming, they’re kind, and they want to include people in what they’re doing. They don’t always talk about what God does but you see it in what they do.  Their actions speak louder than anything else.”

Everyone is invited to join them for the 10:00 a.m. service on Sundays; there is communion on the first Sunday of each month.  St. Stephen’s United Church of Christ is located at 25445 Highfield Road in Cascade, Maryland. Check out its Facebook page for information and lots of photos.

Pastor Beth Firme (front row, on left) is pictured with members of St. Stephen’s United Church of Christ.

Photos by Theresa Dardanell

Trinity United Church of Christ


by Theresa Dardanell

“No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.” Pastor Sean DeLawder and the members of the Trinity United Church of Christ truly believe that message. It is demonstrated in their worship, fellowship, and outreach.

Everyone is welcome to attend the weekly 11:00 a.m. Sunday service, which includes the exchange of peace, prayers, readings, and Pastor Sean’s sermon.  Organist Lana Sorenson plays the magnificent Mohler pipe organ, while the congregation sings hymns of praise. Rocky Birely plays the flute during many of the Sunday services. Communion is on the first Sunday of the month. The very talented Trinity Bell Choir, led by Linda Franklin, performs several times a year. A special Veteran’s Day service is held every year and is open to all Veterans in the community. The event includes dinner, music, and a color guard, and it honors Veterans from all branches of service.

Caring for church members, along with friends, family, and those in the community, is an important part of the outreach.  Every day, several people on the Prayer Team offer up prayers for those on the prayer list who are dealing with a hardship, health concern, or other need. The “Random Acts of Kindness” program gives members the opportunity to do a good deed for a neighbor or friend. Among other activities, the Worship, Fellowship and Education Committee members assemble and deliver “Sunshine Boxes” to members who are shut-ins and unable to attend church services. This summer, committee members joined with Weller United Methodist Church for Vacation Bible School. Volunteers from both congregations helped with the education, crafts, and activities. Local teens were invited to “Fuse” meetings during the summer; the church provided the building for the group to use as a place for activities, socialization, music, games, and conversation, with adult supervision and mentorship. Outreach also includes donations to the Thurmont Food Bank, Thurmont Ministerium, Blessing in a Backpack, the school supply drive, and One Great Hour of Sharing.

The Trinity United Church of Christ kitchen is a very busy place. Kitchen managers Tootie Lenhart and Russ Delauter are joined daily by church and community members, friends, and family. Together, they bake pies, cakes, and dumplings, and they cook chili, soups, slippery pot pies, and country ham sandwiches.

Pastor Sean said, “We are blessed to have people outside of our church come and help.” Proceeds from the kitchen ministry support the church and provide funds for community outreach. Soups and chicken pies are delivered to members who are sick. Lunches are provided after funeral services. At least once a year, they partner with the Thurmont Lions Club in an all-you-can-eat fundraising breakfast for someone in the community who is in need of financial help due to illness or hardship. The two organizations volunteer their time and share the expenses so that all proceeds go to the family in need. Lenhart said, “We feel very good doing it.”

Colorfest weekend is one opportunity to enjoy the delicious soups, sandwiches, and desserts prepared by the kitchen staff. You can also order food for pickup before Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. Red velvet, German chocolate, chocolate, coconut, and yellow cakes are available; peach, cherry, apple, blueberry, and homemade mince are several of the seventeen varieties of pies; six soups, including cream of crab, Maryland crab, and chicken corn, are available. For the complete list, you can call Lenhart at 301-271-2655.

Social events provide time for relaxation. In the spring, the ladies enjoy appetizers, sandwiches, soup, and dessert, served by the men during the Women’s Tea. On Father’s Day, homemade chocolate chip cookies are a special treat for dads. An annual picnic and dinners during the year provide time for fellowship.

The original Trinity Reformed Church was dedicated on June 13, 1880, and began its mission with fifty-two founding members.  Expansion began in 1901, and electricity was added in 1911. In 1957, the United Church of Christ was formed; Trinity Reformed became Trinity United Church of Christ. The church is located at 101 East Main Street in Thurmont. The website,, provides information about their mission and statement of faith. You can also listen to some of Pastor Sean’s sermons, view the latest newsletter, and see photos of previous events.

Pastor Sean DeLawder and members of the Thurmont Trinity United Church of Christ.

St. John’s Lutheran Church of Creagerstown

by Theresa Dardanell

St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church is on the left and the Union Church is on the right.

If your summer plans include visiting locations on the National Register of Historic Places, make sure you add St. John’s Church at Creagerstown Historic District to your list. The complex consists of three buildings, all owned by the church. The Union Church building (originally called the Reformed Church) was built jointly in 1834 and shared by the Reformed Church and the Lutherans until 1908. A new church, St. John’s Lutheran, was built and dedicated in 1909. A third building, the Parish House, was built in 1880, originally used as a two-room schoolhouse and purchased by the Lutheran Church in 1926. The adjacent community cemetery is also included in the historic district.

After the new church was built, the Union Church building fell into disrepair and was used only for storage. However, it is now in the process of being restored with help from the Maryland Historical Society. Completed renovations include a new roof and floor, the addition of heating and air-conditioning, and repairs to the basement. The beautiful chandelier and pews from the Union Church were moved to the Lutheran Church. Although the renovations to the Union Church building are not complete, services are held there, as well as in the new church. The Parish House is used for dinners and other community events.

St. John’s is the oldest Lutheran congregation in Western Maryland.  Although it was established in 1732, members worshiped in various locations until they moved into their current buildings. They are proud of their continuous tradition of spirituality, community service, and God’s fellowship. Pastor Wayne Blaser said that members of the congregation care for one another and look out for one another. The small congregation generously supports local and worldwide organizations. Local outreach includes donations to the Thurmont Ministerium, Thurmont Food Bank, Clothes Closet Ministry in Thurmont, and the Religious Coalition in Frederick. They also participate in the summer enrichment camp for students. Global support is provided to Operation Christmas Child, which provides shoe boxes full of supplies for children around the world. Money donated during special collections is sent to areas affected by natural disasters; recent donations were sent to Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. One of the Lutheran Church Mission programs is the “noisy change” offering once a year. Members drop their loose change in a bucket (along with a check for an additional donation) that is taken to the Synod meeting in June, where it is used for the Lutheran Hunger Program.

Everyone is invited to attend the fundraising dinners, which are held throughout the year. The February dinner, held from 12:00-5:00 p.m. on the second Saturday of the month, features turkey and fried oysters. On the Saturday before Mother’s Day in May, a dinner of fried chicken and country ham, along with chicken and ham slippery pot pies, is served from 12:00-5:00 p.m. Proceeds from the May dinner support the operation of the community cemetery and local street lighting. The menu for the June dinner varies from year to year; this year, it featured fried chicken and pork BBQ. Funds raised at this event help families who face financial hardship due to a major health crises. It is usually held on the second Saturday in June. Plan to spend some time from noon to 5:00 p.m. on the Saturday of Colorfest weekend at the October “Cafe,” where you can enjoy a variety of sandwiches, side dishes, and desserts. The Thanksgiving Day dinner, served from 11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., is a 125-year-old tradition in Creagerstown. At the Christmas Bazaar on the first Saturday in December, food and baked goods are available, along with the indoor yard sale from 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. The dedicated members of the “Faithful Workers” group organize and conduct these events for the benefit of the church and community.

Special musical events are held at various times throughout the year at the church, and are open to the community; a free-will offering is gratefully accepted. The “Day Star” Southern Gospel group will be performing on October 7, 2018, at 6:30 p.m. The Blue Grass Chapel Band will be performing on November 11, 2018, at 6:30 p.m.

Everyone is welcome to attend the weekly 9:30 a.m. Sunday service, which includes the exchange of peace among those in attendance, prayers and readings, the message given by Pastor Wayne, and holy communion. An enthusiastic choir and an organist lead the congregation in musical worship.

St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church is located at 8619 Blacks Mill Road in Creagerstown.

For more information see the church’s website at ​

Pastor Wayne Blaser (on right) and members of St. John’s Lutheran Church.

Monocacy Church of the Brethren

by Theresa Dardanell

The Brethren Love Feast is a reenactment of the Last Supper. It is celebrated at the Monocacy Church of the Brethren on Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday) and on the first Sunday in November. I met with Pastor Tracy Wiser and members of the congregation in June and learned that the Love Feast consists of four parts: preparation, feet washing, simple meal of soup and sandwiches, and communion. It is held in the original church building that was established in 1853. The church, which was built in the traditional meeting-house style, still contains the original pews with backs that tilt up to become tables for the Love Feast.  The soup is cooked downstairs in the original kettles. Although many of the traditions have continued, some things have changed. Men and women now sit together instead of on separate sides of the church, and visiting worshipers no longer stay overnight as they did in the “horse and buggy” days.

Modern conveniences, as well as a fellowship hall and education wing, have been added to the historic building. A chair lift from the main floor to the downstairs fellowship hall adds handicap accessibility. Monocacy Church of the Brethren will celebrate its 165th anniversary this year on Sunday, December 2.

Sunday worship begins with the Christian education hour at 9:30 a.m. Adult classes focus on various topics, and children attend classes appropriate for their ages. Before the worship service begins at 10:30 a.m., the children recite memory verses that they learned during their class. The service continues with scripture readings, prayers, a sermon, and the sharing of joys and concerns, as well as traditional hymns with organ accompaniment. Once a month, a praise service features contemporary music. Bread and Cup Communions are held at the end of worship on the second Sundays in June and September and are open to all professing Christians.

Bible Study and Vacation Bible School are part of the educational program. Bible Study is held on the third Thursday of every month, from 7:00-8:30 p.m. Each lesson is a self-contained study of a particular topic like doubt, procrastination, failure, or jealousy.

Vacation Bible School for children will be held this year from July 18-21. The theme is “Rolling River Rampage — Experience the ride of a lifetime with God.” All children are welcome to attend. Sign up online or call Deb Eyler at 301-271-7396.

Pastor Tracy said that Monocacy Church of the Brethren is “a small country church but very much a family church.” They celebrate member birthdays once a month after Sunday services, and enjoy summer picnics and Christmas socials. On Sunday July 22, they will meet at Mount Tabor Park to participate in the annual “Worship in the Park,” which combines worship with a picnic. Many of the members are also active with the local fire department. The Ladies Aid Committee and Outreach Committee members hold bake sales, yard sales, and auctions to raise funds that are used to help church and community members in need. The Thurmont Food Bank, Heifer International, the JoyEl ministry, and Operation Christmas Child are also recipients of the generosity of the congregation. Last year, fifty-three shoe boxes were assembled and donated to the Operation Christmas Child organization.

Everyone is welcome to attend the Brethren Love Feast, Sunday worship service, Worship in the Park, Bible Study, Vacation Bible School, and Church Picnic. The church is located at 13517 Motters Station Road in Rocky Ridge. You can reach the church office at 301-271-3588.

Their very informative and up-to-date website at provides details about all of their worship services and events, as well as photos, sermons, history, newsletters, and more.

Pastor Tracy Wiser (center, behind podium) is pictured with members of the Monocacy Church of the Brethren.

by Theresa Dardanell

Graceham Moravian Church

The very popular “Served With Grace” monthly community meal is what most people know about Graceham Moravian Church, but it is only part of their very extensive ministry. Held on the first Monday of every month, this free dinner is a social event that brings the community together, while providing a nourishing meal. What you might not know is that some of the food that is served during the dinner is grown in the garden that is located on church property. Members of the Garden Ministry grow potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and other vegetables. Surplus vegetables are donated to the local food bank.

“Served With Grace” is only one of the many local community outreach programs. They participate in the Thurmont Ministerium’s summer lunch program for children and Christmas Gift Program; organize and host the annual school supply drive for students in the Catoctin feeder district; and support the Thurmont Food Bank, Religious Coalition for Emergency Human Needs, Seton Center, Safe and Sane, Hospice, and Catoctin Community Medical Fund.

“Angie’s On The Bend” is a housing ministry for women who have experienced homelessness or who are in need of safe, affordable housing. The Women’s Fellowship Group at Graceham Moravian Church makes Valentines to send to shut-ins and the elderly, creates ornaments at Christmas for nursing home residents, and visits St. Catherine’s nursing home to lead games and social activities. The Garden Ministry also grows sunflowers, zinnias, and perennials, which are then given to members and friends who are confined to their homes. Youth members also visit and deliver flowers to nursing home residents.

Prayer, of course, is an important ministry. An Opioid Prayer Group meets on Thursdays at 5:45 p.m. to pray for those struggling with addiction, as well as their families and those providing services, and they pray for a solution to end the crisis. There is a Prayer Shawl Ministry and a Prayer Chain Ministry. Worship leadership at St. Catherine’s is provided several times a year.

Community outreach is not limited to local organizations. The congregation supports the Sowers’ Family Mission work in Honduras; their work includes feeding centers for children, training for pastors, and building hospitals. Shoe boxes and backpacks full of essential items donated by church members are assembled by the Christian Education Committee and sent to children in Honduras. The annual youth mission trip is an opportunity for the young members of the congregation to travel to other areas of the country and provide services, including exterior painting, building new porches and wheelchair ramps, and roofing. The church also supports the work of the Moravian Church’s Interprovincial Board of World Mission through monetary and in-kind gifts, as well as participation in mission trips.

Fundraising helps to support all of the many outreach programs.  The popular Turkey and Oyster dinners are held every March and October. Over two days, between 750 and 1,300 family-style meals are served. Some of the dinners are prepared for home delivery by the Caring Team Ministry. Along with the turkey and fried oysters, diners enjoy stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans sauerkraut, coleslaw, cranberry sauce, rolls, cake, and beverages. Peanut butter balls made by the Women’s Fellowship Group, as well as crafts and baked goods, are available for sale. Other fundraisers include a Valentine’s dinner in February, cake auction in August, yard sale at the church during Colorfest, and the senior citizen’s Christmas dinner in December.

Christian education takes place throughout the year. Classes for adults and children are provided by a dedicated staff of teachers and assistants at 9:15 a.m. on Sundays, from September through May. In June, July, and August, children attend Summerfest during the 9:15 a.m. worship service. Children who are members of the congregation have the opportunity to attend retreats and camps at the Hope Conference and Renewal Center in Hope, New Jersey. An annual silent auction provides half of the registration cost for each child. Children in the community are invited to participate in vacation Bible school, where they rotate through stations and enjoy games, crafts, music, stories, and snacks.

The Music Ministry is very busy. The different groups alternate to provide joyful music during the services. There is a Children’s Choir, a Hosanna Choir, and a Praise Team. The “Bells of Grace” handbell choir, which is open to children and adults, celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016. In addition to performances at Graceham Moravian and other churches, they have performed at St. Catherine’s and in various states over the years.

Graceham Moravian was founded in 1758. The original wood building was replaced in 1791, and the new sanctuary was added in 1822. Additional wings were built over the years, with the latest addition in 1989. There are currently about 250 members who are part of the worldwide Moravian church. Their mottos are “Our Lamb Has Conquered, Let Us Follow Him” and “In Essentials, Unity; In Non-essentials, Liberty; In All Things, Love.”

Everyone is invited to join the Sunday worship services, which are held at 8:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., September through May.  There is a 9:15 a.m. service in June, July, and August. The church is located at 8231A Rocky Ridge Road in Thurmont.

Visit or call 301-271-2379 for more information.

Pastor Sue Koenig (second from right) is shown with members of the Graceham Moravian Church.

by Theresa Dardanell

St. Paul’s Church will celebrate its 250th anniversary in 2019. In 1769, a meeting house was erected near the site of the current church. The original congregation was served by circuit-rider preachers from Evangelical Lutheran, as well as German Reformed, German Baptist Brethren, and Methodist ministries. It was replaced by a brick building in 1838, and then completely rebuilt in 1889. Since the 1960s, it has exclusively been the home of the Lutheran Congregation in Utica. To celebrate this very special anniversary, monthly activities and events will be held next year.

Community service is an important part of the ministry of the church. The most popular fundraiser is the annual Utica picnic, which will be held this year on August 18 at the church’s Miller Picnic Woods, located at 7515 Lewistown Road. It has been a tradition for approximately 170 years and is an opportunity not only to raise money, but to promote fellowship. Lucille Putman, picnic supper co-chairperson, said that the event brings together over 800 people from Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Washington D.C. to enjoy food and fun. The popular menu includes country ham, fried chicken, salads, vegetables and fruit, sandwiches, and cake and ice cream. Along with the great food are games, music, and a pleasant hayride through the Miller Picnic Woods. Proceeds from the event are donated to the Woodsboro and Lewistown Fire Departments and the Thurmont and Glade Valley food banks, and are used to help fund the church’s ministry, as well as the Sunday school and Utica Cemetery Association.  Lewistown Elementary School is also a beneficiary of the church’s generosity. Donations from members provide Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas gifts to families who need assistance. As part of the Thurmont Ministerium, church members contribute financially for local needs and participate in the summer lunch program for children in the community. The Aimee Belle Harper Scholarship program, managed by The Community Foundation of Frederick County and overseen by church members, provides scholarships for eligible students. Groups from the church worked with Habitat for Humanity and helped to build two homes, one in Brunswick and one in Thurmont. St. Paul’s has also participated in the Western Maryland Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

Community outreach is not limited to the local area. Pastor Reverend Albert K. Lane III said that as part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, they are connected to the Christian family in America and beyond. Worldwide support includes financial and prayerful support of missionaries Wendolyn and Eric Trozzo, who are living and working in Malaysia.

The youth of the parish are also very active, supported by the entire congregation. Monthly activities for children and youth include community service, along with events just for fun. Recently, the youth collected “Souper Bowl for Caring” donations for the food banks, and they also prepared and served a meal at the Frederick Soup Kitchen. They regularly visit members and friends of the church who live in nursing homes. Fun activities include ice skating parties, the annual Easter Egg hunt, and a visit to the pumpkin patch in the fall.

Reverend Lane said, “If we understand worship as being central to who we are as a Christian community, you need to have youth involved in your worship life.”

Children who attend the 8:00 a.m. Sunday service hear a special children’s sermon and then participate in Sunday School. On Scouting Sunday in March, scouts were encouraged to wear their uniforms and were recognized during the service.

Adults have the opportunity for friendship and service as members of the Men’s Ministry and the St. Paul’s Lutheran Women’s League. The Men’s Ministry meets monthly for companionship and to plan activities, especially for holidays. The Women’s League distributes gifts for graduates and confirmation students, provides support for the homebound or the sick of the parish, and serves luncheons and receptions for funerals and memorial services.

All of these many church, community, and worldwide services are accomplished by the approximately 150 active members of the church, who all worship together at one of two services on Sundays. There is an 8:00 a.m. relaxed Communion service and a 10:30 a.m. traditional Communion service. Fellowship time with refreshments, in between the services, is held every Sunday from 9:00-9:30 a.m. and is followed by Bible Study/Sunday School for adults. Music is an integral part of both services. The praise team/ensemble leads the congregation in song at the early service, and the adult choir sings at the 10:30 a.m. service. When I visited the church on March 18, the Frederick Youth Flute Choir played before and during the service.

The joy of music is promoted at the church, with concerts held during the year. The Louise S. Ediger Memorial concert series continues the 2018 season with the GreenSpring Young Artists concert at 2:00 p.m. on May 5. On June 14, Argentinean concert organist Gustavo Andres performs at 7:00 p.m. The 11th annual Summer Harp Concert Series will be held in July with performances on July 10, 11, and 13, by the American Youth Harp Ensemble, led by Artistic Director Lynnelle Ediger.

Visitors are always welcome at St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church of Utica, located at 10621 Old Frederick Road. Join them for the very family-friendly worship or attend one of the many activities or events that they hold. You won’t be disappointed.

Reverend Albert K. Lane III with members of the St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church Utica.

Photo by Theresa Dardanell

Emmitsburg Presbyterian Church

by Theresa Dardanell

I recently visited The Emmitsburg Presbyterian Church and met with the minister and some of the members. During the meeting, Rev. Dr. Peter Keith said, “Anyone coming to worship with us would hear a message of inclusiveness, love, and forgiveness, not about judgement,” and everyone agreed.  The small tight-knit congregation enjoys Sunday services that combine uplifting music; prayers of thanksgiving, sharing, and petition; and sermons described by Lynda Lillard as giving them “some very thought-provoking ideas about God/Jesus/Christianity that carry us through the week.”  A “Wee Sermon” for the children is given during the service. Organist Christine Maccabee plays classical and contemporary music, as well as the hymns during the service. Christine said that “the harmonies of music are a glorious expression of the harmonies of heaven, and so both the playing and singing of them is uplifting for the soul.” Also, twice a month, everyone is welcome to join the discussion group before the Sunday service to talk about a particular book and share thoughts and ideas.

The members are very proud of their contributions to the local and the worldwide community.  As members of the Emmitsburg Council of Churches, financial assistance is provided to local families through the Seton Center Outreach. They also have a scholarship fund set up to benefit a student at Mount Saint Mary’s University. The entire congregation is involved with the youth group projects, which benefit organizations around the world. School supply kits and hygiene health kits were collected and sent to Church World Service, where they were distributed to communities where the need is great. Money collected from fundraising projects was sent to the Presbyterian Mission, which then provided blankets for refugee families, chickens for a family to raise food, and gardening tools and a water filter kit for people who do not have access to clean water.

The church has a long history that began in 1760. It was originally a meeting house, known as Tom’s Creek Presbyterian Church, and was located about a mile north of Emmitsburg. In 1839, it was moved to the current location on Main Street in Emmitsburg, and the name was changed to Emmitsburg Presbyterian. The building was remodeled in 1869, and then rebuilt again in 1879. Unfortunately, it was struck by lightning in 1902 and was destroyed. The church was rebuilt in 1904 and remodeled in 1950. The stained glass windows are magnificent, and the interior design is warm and welcoming.

Emmitsburg Presbyterian is located at 415 West Main Street in Emmitsburg. Everyone is welcome to join them for the 11:00 a.m. Sunday service.

Rev. Dr. Peter Keith and members of the Emmitsburg Presbyterian Church.

Photo by Theresa Dardanell

Lewistown United Methodist Church

by Theresa Dardanell

For the members of the Lewistown United Methodist Church (LUMC), community outreach means more than supporting the needs in the immediate Lewistown area; their contributions reach all around the world. Several committees and groups work together for the benefit of the church, the local community, and the world.

The Community Outreach Committee is responsible for coordinating donations to support local needs. The church supports the Thurmont Food Bank, and the committee makes it fun by having a different theme each month. The theme for February was “Souper Bowl,” so lots of soup and noodles were donated. Of course, for St. Patrick’s Day in March, the theme is “Green,” so cans of peas and other green foods will be in the donation bins.

Donations of clothing are collected several times a year for the homeless. Lewistown Elementary School is also a beneficiary of their generosity. Principal Dana Austin said, “The Lewistown United Methodist Church has been a dedicated community partner with Lewistown Elementary for many years. On an annual basis, they have provided lunches for the pyramid summer school program, hosted a back to school lunch for staff, and donated school supplies and food for evening events. Recently, the church began supporting our weekend food program for needy families. They not only provided volunteers to bag the food, but also donated $500 for nonperishable food. Their service is a testament to their commitment to those in need, along with their commendable support of Frederick County Public Schools. TeamLES appreciates all that they do!”

The Missions Committee reaches a greater range of people who need assistance. At Christmas, they partnered with the Salvation Army to provide gifts for three families. In the winter, they partner with The Society of St. Andrew to help end hunger in the community with the Potato Drop. Forty thousand pounds of potatoes are donated by the agricultural community and distributed to food banks and churches for distribution. LUMC members help pack the potatoes in ten-pound bags at the Smithsburg distribution center and bring them back to be given to families in need.  The church also reaches out to several international organizations to provide assistance. Operation Christmas Child provides gift boxes to children in need around the world. LUMC volunteers packed and sent approximately thirty-two shoe boxes with toys, clothing, and personal care items. The children of the congregation collected money for the Heifer Project, and chose fish fingerlings to be given to a family in another country. Along with the fish, the family receives training in fish farming, so they can become self-reliant. They helped to fulfill the old saying, “Teach a man to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime.”

The United Methodist Women’s Group is responsible for social events and fundraising. They provide the lunch for the teachers at Lewistown Elementary, and treat the senior citizens of the community to a special dinner once a year. They coordinate the twice yearly pot pie dinner, which is the biggest fundraiser for the church; they are famous for their “Slippery Pot Pie,” which is made with homemade noodles instead of a top crust. Although the dinners are organized by the Women’s group, everyone in the church is involved in some way. Preparing to serve about six hundred dinners is a monumental task that begins before the actual day of the event. There are potatoes to peel, cole slaw to be made, desserts to be prepared, and, most important, chicken to cook. Then, there is the “chicken pickin,” which, of course, is when the meat is picked off the bones before it can be made into pot pie. On the day of the dinner, cooking begins about 5:00 a.m., and the work does not end until the cleaning is done, about 6:00 p.m. The volunteers consider this fundraiser  a “FUNraiser with camaraderie, fellowship, teamwork, and outreach/service to the community.” Mark your calendars for the March 21st  Slippery Pot Pie dinner. It will be held from noon-5:30 p.m. You can enjoy the all-you-can-eat family style meal at the church hall; takeout is also an option.

The Children’s Ministry Committee combines education and fun for the children. Along with Sunday School during the 9:00 a.m. service and vacation Bible school during the summer, there are many activities held throughout the year. On Scouting Sunday in February, all scouts are invited to wear their uniforms to church and participate in the service. The Easter activity includes an Easter egg hunt, egg coloring, crafts, games, and lunch.  “Trunk or treat” is an interesting alternative to “Trick or Treat” in October. Families gather together outside with their open car trunks, decorated for the season. The children go from one car to another, gathering the treats that are inside the car trunks and then enjoy games and activities together.

Social activities are not limited to the children. Families enjoy the summer church picnic, the annual Christmas party, and a Frederick Keys baseball game. Everyone I met agreed with the sentiment of one of the members, who said, “Anybody who wants to come is welcome to join our family. We love and care about each other.”

Pastor Linda Warehime leads the weekly 9:00 a.m. Sunday service.  Joyful news and prayer concerns are shared with the congregation, the choir leads everyone in song, and everyone is welcome to participate in Holy Communion.

New members are always welcome to join. The church is located at 11032 Hessong Bridge Road in Thurmont. For more information, call 301-898-7888 or e-mail Find them on Facebook at: Lewistown United Methodist Church – Thurmont.

Pastor Linda Warehime and several members of the Lewistown United Methodist Church on “Scouting Sunday.”

Photo by Theresa Dardanell

by Theresa Dardanell

Incarnation United Church of Christ


Their congregation might be small but their spirit is great.  The 40 members of the Incarnation United Church of Christ in Emmitsburg gather together to worship in a beautiful historic building, sing along with an enthusiastic choir, donate generously to community organizations, and enjoy each other’s company at the annual picnic.

The church, originally built in 1868 was destroyed by fire in 1950.  Church member Tom Hoke, a firefighter, was on duty the day of the fire.  He said that everything in the building, including the bell and bell tower, the pipe organ, pews, and altar, was completely destroyed.  Only the walls were left standing.  The bell and bell tower were finished before the new church was rebuilt in 1951 so that the annual ringing of the bell on Veteran’s Day would continue uninterrupted. This year, 2018, will be the 100th year that members of the congregation will ring the bell on that day.

Pastor Chris Spruill said that the members of the church are very generous.  Despite the small size of the congregation, they regularly provide donations of food to the local food bank. Special collections during the year provide funds that are donated to the Seton Center Outreach and other organizations as suggested by the Emmitsburg Council of Churches, of which they are a member. They recently collected money for victims of the 2017 hurricanes and, in the past, have provided families impacted by fires with temporary relocation help.

Organist Audrey Glass said that the six-member choir sings at most of the Sunday services.  The choir was practicing for their Christmas Eve Service while I was visiting their church and meeting with Pastor Chris.  I truly enjoyed listening to them sing.

The annual picnic is held in June at Kump’s Dam Park in Emmitsburg.  After a short service at 11:00 a.m., lunch is served. Everyone brings their favorite covered dish, the Women’s Guild provides fried chicken, and Jay Allen cooks hot dogs on the grill. Becki Willard said that there is always “an abundance of food.”  The day of fellowship includes games for children and bingo for the adults.

The United Church of Christ Consistory is the governing board of the organization and currently consists of Edie Long, President; Eric Glass, Treasurer; Becki Willard, Secretary; and members Jay Allen, Janet Springer, John Martin and Audrey Glass.

Incarnation United Church of Christ is located at 124 W. Main Street in Emmitsburg. Members are very welcoming and invite you to join them for worship on Sundays at 9:30 a.m.

Pastor Chris Spruill and members: Pat Hollahan, Cleo Martin, Janet Springer, Edie Long, John Martin, Glenn Springer, Maureen Springer, Eric Glass, Audrey Glass, and Becki Willard.

by Theresa Dardanell

St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church

Part of the Mission Statement of St. Joseph’s Church is “…following in the spirit of St. Vincent DePaul to assist those in need.”

When I met with Pastor Father Martin McGeough, Parish Secretary Elaine Ebaugh, and Facilities Manager Dennis Ebaugh, they all agreed that the parishioners fulfill that mission by their generosity.  Father Marty said, “There is a strong sense of community among the people. They like each other, they care about each other, they work for each other, and they work with each other.”

There are several ways that the members of the parish help the community. The St. Vincent DePaul/Our Lady of Grace Conference is an organization that serves the people of Emmitsburg, Thurmont, and Taneytown by providing support such as transportation, hospital visits, and home visits.

In November each year, they also collect coats, blankets, and other cold weather items for the homeless in the area.  Elaine Ebaugh said that members generously donate money for community and world needs during regular and special collections.  Recent collections included providing support for hurricane victims. At Christmas, parishioners donate toys and gift cards; at Easter and Thanksgiving, they donate grocery store gift cards. St. Joseph Church also partners with the Emmitsburg Council of Churches to donate to the Seton Center Outreach program, which coordinates distribution of these funds to people in need. The St. Joseph’s Church Sodality of the Blessed Virgin is a service and prayer group. During its annual craft fair in December and yard sale in June, money raised is used for church projects that are determined by the pastor.  Once a year, money is donated to the Seton Center and the Pregnancy Center. In past years, they have provided tuition assistance for students at Mother Seton School. In addition, members make and donate prayer shawls to people who are grieving or ill. The Legion of Mary is a group devoted to prayer and service. Members meet weekly to pray and recite the rosary. Two hours every week are spent visiting the sick in private homes and nursing homes. Volunteers distribute rosaries and miraculous medals. Members of this group also organize and support the Right To Life Chain in Emmitsburg every October.

Currently, the parish has 670 registered families, but the membership started out much smaller. The history of the church began in 1786, when mass was celebrated in the chapel of a private home. The original church was built in 1793, on land donated by the Hughes family. When the congregation grew too large for the building, it was torn down and the current church was built in 1842. Dennis Ebaugh said that the church recently underwent a total restoration, which included electrical, lighting, fire protection, exterior restoration, and bell tower repairs.  The pews, doors, floors, and stained glass windows were all refurbished.

Along with Father Marty, Elaine and Dennis Ebaugh, parish staff members are: Father Charles Krieg, associate pastor; Father Harry Arnone, C.M. chaplain to the Daughters of Charity at the Villa; Teresa Allnut, bookkeeper; Debbie Krietz, housekeeper/cook; Doria Wolfe, coordinator of religious education; Mary Myers, director of liturgy; Anthony Dilulio and Joseph Ritz, music directors.

Children of the parish participate in one of three religious education programs. Children in the parish who attend public school attend religious education classes on Sunday mornings. Students who attend Mother Seton School receive instruction at school. The Emmaus Catholic Homeschool Organization (ECHO), provides support to parents who homeschool their children.

Mass is celebrated Saturdays at 4:30 p.m., and Sundays at 8:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. On the first Sunday of every month, everyone is invited for coffee and donuts after the morning masses. Mass times during the week are: Monday at 7:30 p.m.; Tuesday through Saturday at 8:30 a.m. Everyone is welcome.

The church is located at 47 DePaul Street in Emmitsburg. Visit or call 301-447-2326.

Father Charles Krieg with altar servers, Thomas and Nicholas Lowe.

by Theresa Dardanell

Weller United Methodist Church

A Welcoming Congregation

When I met with Pastor Bob Kells and several members of Weller United Methodist Church (UMC), I learned that this church is the oldest church within the Thurmont town limits. Although that is an interesting fact, I agreed with Dorothy Clever, president of the United Methodist Women, who said that what is going on currently in the church is more important than just the history.

The church began its history without an actual building.  Members met in homes for Bible study. Jacob Weller, a prominent resident who owned and operated a local match factory, donated land for the church, which was built in 1830. During an expansion project in 1915, the bell tower and stained glass windows were added. A final expansion was completed in 1957.  The cemetery has been a part of the church since the beginning. Jacob Weller and his father are buried there, along with soldiers who fought in the Civil War, as well as many local residents. Records of grave sites are available at the church. Family members can search for ancestors buried there.

Currently, Weller UMC has about one hundred active members, who do a considerable amount of community outreach, not only locally, but around the world. The major project right now is the flood buckets being assembled for the people recovering from the recent hurricanes. The buckets contain supplies for the initial cleanup so that people can return to their homes. The congregation donated an outstanding $1,490 for forty-five buckets. Pastor Bob said that the congregation responds generously when there is a need. It is “an expression of our connectedness as a church and as a people that we give these things in times of need.”

The list of ongoing projects carried out by the members of the church is impressive. Food is donated to the local food bank; toiletries are collected and donated to the Religious Coalition in Frederick. Members volunteer weekly in the classrooms at Sabillasville Elementary. Annual projects include the Catoctin area school supply drive, a summer book drive for Sabillasville Elementary, and the Thurmont Ministerium Christmas gift program. Children who go to the food bank at Christmas and Easter receive special treat bags (350 bags were distributed at Christmas last year).  Members also participate in the summer lunch program, which is coordinated by the Thurmont Ministerium. During one week in the summer, they enjoy serving lunch, playing games, and working on craft projects with the children. Pat Alexander, co-chair of the Mission Team that coordinates these projects, said that the latest project is the “tied fleece” baby blankets, made by the members and donated to the Catoctin Pregnancy Center. Along with supporting the local organizations, the United Methodist Women’s group pledges money to the Baltimore Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church, which supports the needs of people around the world.

The generosity of the members is not limited to monetary and material donations. Church Lay Leader Catherine Pitt said that the Prayer Shawl ministry is very important. Anyone who is in need of comfort or healing can request a prayer shawl for themselves or someone else. Requests are not limited to members of the church.  Members create the shawls and the congregation prays for the recipient.  Catherine said that knowing that an entire congregation of people is praying for you is very helpful when going through a difficult time.

Members of the congregation are not “all work and no play.”  The puppet ministry is one activity in which the youth and adults are involved together. Paulette Mathias, chairperson of the Church Council, said that the puppet ministry has been performing for “children of all ages” for about five years. The lyrics for popular songs are replaced with Christian lyrics to create Christian parody music and used in skits for performances at the church, and occasionally at other locations in the community. For the adults, another social activity is the participation by the Weller team in the Frederick Christian Basketball League.

The dedication of the members was apparent during my meeting with Pastor Bob, Paulette Mathias, Dorothy Clever, Pat Alexander, Henry Alexander, Cindy Hart, and Catherine Pitt. Other hard working staff and volunteers include Lay Servant Wes Baugher; Lay Speaker Mark Eyler; Administrative Assistant Billie Lookingbill; Organist Lori Eyler; Music Director Debbie Shultzaberger; Custodian Donny Wastler, Jr.; Nursery Assistant Lois Griffith; and Parish Relations Committee Chair Colby Child.  Trustee Chairman Tom Shaffer leads the team that keeps the church facilities up-to-date and in working order.

Two worship services are held every Sunday. There is a traditional service with organ music and song leaders at 8:30 a.m. and a contemporary service with christian praise music at 11:00 a.m. Sunday school for children and adults is between the services at 9:45 a.m.  Easter and Christmas seasons are celebrated with special musical accompaniment by a large choir and bell choir cantata. A very special and moving remembrance service is celebrated on All Saints Sunday.  For each member who has died during the previous year, a photo is projected on a screen, a candle is lit, and a bell is rung while the name is read. A special altar cloth containing the names of the deceased is placed on the altar on this day. This tradition began in 1998.

Everyone is welcome to join Weller United Methodist Church for Sunday services. It is located at 101 North Altamont Avenue in Thurmont. Call 301-271-2802 with questions during office hours, Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Visit their Facebook page or website at for additional information.

Members of the Weller UMC Mission Team, with the flood buckets created for victims of the recent hurricanes.

Courtesy Photo