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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