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