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Russ Delauter keeps church kitchen busy

Chris Patterson

Russ Delauter of Thurmont cuts up apples in the kitchen at Trinity United Church of Christ in Thurmont.

It's not all he does, but on a recent morning at 9 a.m., that's what he was doing.

Delauter and cooking partner and friend Tootie Lenhart had been there for hours already.

They usually start work as early as 5:30 in the morning and work for five or six hours. They've worked 10 to 12 hours a day when needed.

With the church's pastor looking on, the two work as they do about six out of seven days. After all, they are working in a church, so Sundays should be days of rest.

But sometimes Delauter and Lenhart don't rest, even on the seventh day.

Their church pastor, Lou Sims, said there are Sundays when Delauter and Lenhart have to get a delivery of dumplings ready to go to Catoctin Mountain Orchard.

The church uses fresh fruits from the orchard and then sells back the handmade goodies for resale there.

Delauter has been cooking in the church kitchen for more than 20 years. He also is on the board of directors for Goodwill in Thurmont.

Lenhart started working at the church shortly after Delauter started, and they have run the kitchen since then.

Selling the homemade items helps pay for a full-time pastor, according to Sims. Items Delauter and Lenhart make and sell include apple dumplings, pies, cakes, chicken pot pies and soups. Sims said the chicken pot pies are wonderful. Both Delauter and Sims agree that the blackberry-peach pie is to die for.

Delauter pauses for a moment to philosophize about, well, whatever he wants. He leans on something and looks off pensively.

Lenhart keeps working steadily and fast, rolling out dough, liberally sprinkling cinnamon sugar on cored apples, and hand wrapping apple dumplings with homemade dough.

Delauter said he doesn't talk much about politics, but Lenhart and Sims laugh at that.

Well, maybe he does talk about politics a little, he admitted, but he generally tries to talk only about things he knows nothing about.

He chuckles at how funny he is. His companions laugh too, and he begins cutting apples again.

Sims said the church's many freezers, which are almost full now, will be empty after the Thurmont and Emmitsburg Community Show this weekend and the Catoctin Colorfest on Oct. 9 and 10. Those events are the largest fund-raising events for the church, he said.

Delauter said he doesn't see stopping his work at the church until his partner Lenhart does, and neither of them sees that time coming.

"I like doing it and it's good for the community," he said. "It feels good to do something for the community."

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