1732 - 1957
The beginnings of Lutheranism in Maryland and
the early beginnings of our nation are closely parallel. In 1732,
the same year which George Washington was born, St. John's
Evangelical Church was organized. Time has erased the location, but
not the date and gives it the distinction of being the oldest
Lutheran congregation in continuous operation in western Maryland.
The congregation was organized in 1732 in "Monocacy"
village, an early settlement on the west bank of the river near
Hunting Creek, 10 miles north of present day Frederick. According to
early writings Monocacy was a place of importance located near where
the Indian Trail crossed the river and extended into Pennsylvania.
It undoubtedly contained a store or trading post, a tavern, a
blacksmith shop, a mill, several log buildings and a combination
Schoolhouse and Church building. The Church building is described in
the early record book, as being log with ground floor. As the
settlers spread from the area another congregation was formed in
Frederick, six years later.
Rev. John C. Stoever was the first pastor to
serve the Monocacy German church. Along with Frederick and others
formed to the north of the settlement made up the charge. As time
passed the congregations changed, but was never fewer than four.
Rev. Stoever served the parish periodically for ten years in
addition to a charge in York, Pennsylvania. He relinquished his
duties at Monocacy and restricted his labors to eastern
Pennsylvania. Before doing so he ordained David Candler, a
schoolmaster of Conewago (Hanover, PA) on April 28, 1743 and
assigned him to the Monocacy and York congregations.
Due to the scarcity of ministers, pretenders
plagued the congregation for a number of years, and then trouble
arose because of the teaching of the Moravian doctrines, and late in
1745 or early 1746 they were refused the use of the church. Those
teachers and their sympathizers moved three miles away and founded a
settlement now known as Graceham.
In 1747, the settlement was blessed by the
visit of two great parsonages, Rev. Michael Schlatter, organizer of
the German Reformed Churches in America, and Rev. Henry Muhlenberg,
the father of American Lutheranism. The Reformed Brethren were
granted permission to use the church building. On June 24th, Rev.
Muhlenberg wrote articles of faith in the Church Record Book, which
was purchased at the urging of Rev. Gabriel Naesman on this visit
October 31, 1746, in order that baptisms, marriages and deaths might
be recorded. These articles would meet any legal requirements that
could occur on a colony governed by the English.
John Creager, who owned a large tract of and
on higher and more advantageous ground, about a mile from the
settlement, laid out a village (1760-1770) which became known as
Creagerstown. It soon became one of the first cross-roads of the
nation. The junction of the Baltimore-Pittsburg road with the
Washington Buffalo Road, made Creagerstown an important stagecoach
point with four taverns and stables to change horses. Many families
and tradesmen, with the exception of the millers who needed the
waters of Hunting Creek and the Monocacy, moved to the new village.
The old Monocacy building became unfit for
use and another Union Church was built in 1791, after the ground was
deeded to them February 9, 1787. The new building of hewn logs, and
later weatherboarded, stood closer to the street about 20 feet
northwest of the brick church still standing. Rev. Andrew Krug was
Pastor at the time. He came from Reading, Pennsylvania on April 28,
1771 and served the charge as a faithful loving pastor for 25 years.
In 1808, Rev. Frederick Schaffer, a man of
striking personality, came to serve the five church charge which now
included Apples and Mechanicstown. By the year 1810, it seemed
advisable to separate the charge. Creagerstown was then separated
from Frederick after approximately 67 years of continuous
connection. Rev. Frederick Haas took the new parish with six
churches: Creagerstown, Apples, Woodsboro, Haugh's Rocky Hill, and
another, not recorded.
Rev. Michael Wachter was the pastor when the
old brick church was built, the inscription on the cornerstone is
September 27, 1834, and upon his death the charge was again divided.
The Monocacy River was used as the dividing line and the parish now
consisted of Creagerstown, Apples, Utica, and Bethel.
Rev. George W. Crist
Born Died July 8, 1914
Served - July 4, 1906 to July 8, 1914
Some 12 ministers served the next 50 years
with the average stay of two to six years. During the pastorate of
Rev. John U. Asper, the Lutherans decided to withdraw and build. In
1904, ground was purchased, but the building did not start right
away as difficulties arose over the move. Rev. Asper resigned and
was followed by Rev. George W. Crist.
Construction proceeded on the new building,
making it the fourth building occupied by the Lutherans. It was
completed late in 1908, but not furnished or dedicated until May 16,
In 1926, the new Creagerstown School was
occupied and the church purchased the old school and it has been
known since as "The Parish House".
Rev. Frederick R. Seibel, Jr. came to the
charge in 1929, and with his leadership, observed the 200th
Anniversary with a week of Services and festivities. The church
continued to grow and repairs and improvements were made to the
In 1939, the Reformed congregation disbanded
and in 1944 the Lutherans purchased their share of the building from
the Potomac Synod. (It is interesting to note in the early records
that it was the custom to worship in the Union
Church one Sunday a year to profess half
ownership of the building.) The beautiful kerosene chandelier,
dating back to 1876, was electrified by Richard Smith and moved into
our nave. The chestnut pews, altar, pulpit, and lecturn, were also
exchanged. All but the pews are being used in the church and church
school rooms today.
In October of 1947, Rev. E. Koontz Helwig
assumed the pastorate. In the next ten years, extensive repairs were
made to the pipe organ, a new furnace and stoker unit was installed,
and the interior of the church was painted. The youth group was very
active. They presented several plays and participated in sending
clothing, medicine, and a Holstein heifer to Hungary and Puerto
The church school, a teaching agency, has
held the congregation together over the years during vacancies, and
many faithful members are to be remembered for their leadership.
The choir was active with their part in the
worship services. They held several son festivals, led the music and
offered special numbers with the Evangelism Mission held February
The Faithful Workers lived up to their name;
improving their kitchen, holding suppers, banquets and food sales to
assist with financial responsibilities.
On October 27, 1957, we recognized the 225th
Anniversary with a full day of services and fellowship. Pastors
Frederick R. Seibel, Jr., Jacob M. Spangler, and Francis E.
Reinberger were able to help in the day's celebration and bring back
to us many memories.
1957 - 1982
The 225th Anniversary was followed by the
regular fall activities; Thanks-giving Day Dinner, Christmas Church
services and many organizational activities. At the Congregational
meeting in January 1958, Rev. and Mrs. Helwig were honored with a
cherry rocker for their ten years of diligent service. Soon
after-wards, the Synod started plans of re-alignment of multiple
church charges. As this progressed, the parish split, Pastor Helwig
accepted a charge in Baltimore, leaving on May 22, 1960.
Walkersville and Bethel became a charge and Creagerstown was jointed
with Utica. As of January 16, 1962 the charge became officially
known as the Creagerstown-Utica Parish.
Rev. Charles A. Pollard was issued a call
and came to us from Seminary, serving from 1961 - 1969. This, of
course, made it necessary to have a parsonage. Ground was acquired
and a contract awarded to the Ausherman Construction Company. With
the help of each organization of the churches, through numerous
projects and fund drives, Pastor and Mrs. Pollard were able to move
into the parsonage on June 15, 1961 to serve the charge. The
dedication service was held October 29, 1961. During Pastor
Pollard's years the monthly newsletter was started, the Advent
Wreath was used for the first time, and numerous study courses were
held. Children's sermons were started and with the help of Mrs.
Pollard, a Youth Choir was organized.
In 1959, it was approved by vote to excavate
under the Church for new Sunday School rooms. These were completed
and dedicated April 8, 1962.
In 1961 the Faithful Workers Society
celebrated their 75th Anniversary. They have remained active and
through the years have raised funds for the drilling of a new well,
repointing the exterior of the Parish House, refurbishing the
kitchen and paneled the walls of the dining room in the Parish
House. They sponsor a May dinner to benefit the Cemetery and street
lights, a June dinner and the Colorfest dinner to benefit the
Church, and of course, we cannot omit the annual Thanksgiving Day
Dinner, which has been held since 1892, making this year its' 90th
In 1966 the bricks of the church were
cleaned and repointed. Through the years, the woodwork and windows
have been kept in shape, many times by our own members.
In May of 1969 we had a 60th Birthday
Celebration of the present church building. Many clippings, books,
letters and pictures were on display and the congregation enjoyed a
covered dish lunch together. A bazaar was held in October to start a
fund for redecoration of the interior of the church. This later
developed into the Colorfest Weekend and Apple Butter Boiling, from
which profits have been realized and has become a great boost toward
increased expenses and extras.
August of 1969 brought us the resignation of
Pastor Pollard. He had decided to take a post as chaplain at the
Bethphage Mission in Axtell, Nebraska. A call was issued to Rev.
Thomas M. White with his acceptance on conditions that he be allowed
to take a graduation gift first, that being a trip to Europe. This
was agreed upon and services for the time period were planned by lay
people, using Seminarians and for serving of sacraments ordained
ministers. Pastor White's first service as our Pastor was on August
9, 1970 and he served the parish until September of 1978.
During the year of 1971, the entire inside
of the church was redecorated, including a new paint job and
carpeting throughout. The picture above the Altar was removed to be
cleaned and restored. It was then placed on the wall above the choir
loft. A new Rodgers organ was installed in 1972.
The chimes that were donated in 1938, and
used in the old organ, were electrified and transferred to the
present organ. The pews and Altar furniture were refinished and two
of the 1909 chairs were cleaned and upholstered.
Pastor White brought us many new ideas. We
had our first Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, with wrought iron
holders being made for each pew and holders with globes for the
windows. He started the use of bread instead of wafers and the use
of a pouring chalice for Communion Services. The children were
invited to the Communion Rail, with their parents, to receive a
blessing. With the use of the chalice for communion, it became
necessary to have pall and burste sets made to match the paraments.
Stoles were also made to match. Deacons were trained and installed
to help with the distribution of Communion. The Council approved
Pastor White's request for monthly Communion services. We started
the use of the lectionary inserts with the Advent Season of 1973. A
Church Directory was printed to give each of our church families'
current addresses and phone numbers. The first Easter Sunrise
Service was held in 1975, and an Easter Garden has been assembled
each year since 1976.
In an effort to unify liturgy and hymns of
the various synods, two hymnals were printed. One was printed in
1958, the other in 1979 which we purchased and used. The majority of
the cost was covered through memorial gifts.
Throughout the years, the Youth in the
congregation have been active in many parts of our church life.
Their name was changed to Luther League in 1972 when they became
charter members of LCA. In 1971 they presented new flags to the
church for the altar area. Some of their fund raising projects have
been candy sales, flower bulbs, and most recently, sub sales.
Various chancel dramas have been presented and they have read the
scripture lessons during worship services for special occasions.
In November 1978 the Rev. Robert S. McEllroy,
III began his ministry with the congregation and Parish, serving
initially as Vice-Pastor and being called to
serve the Parish full time effective
September 1, 1979. During Pastor Bob's pastorate several Parish
Services have been instituted; Epiphany, with the burning of the
greens; Maundy Thursday with Holy Communion; and an annual
Thanksgiving Communion Service on the Sunday before Thanksgiving.
The role of liturgical deacon was expanded to include participation
in Baptisms and Confirmation. In 1981, a Youth Choir was formed
under the direction of Mrs. Pat McEllroy.
As a means of strengthening our Parish
ministry the Pastor/Parish Guideline Policy was revised to include
guidelines for weddings, funerals, and Confirmation Ministries. The
Pastor/Parish Plan of operation was revised and includes a
Pastor/Parish Relations Committee.
Pastor Bob initiated a Wednesday morning
Bible Study Class, an annual Parish Picnic, and an annual
Confirmation Retreat to provide additional opportunities for Parish
fellowship and learning. Later this year (1982) we will begin the
"Word and Witness" program in the Parish to deepen our faith and to
strengthen our ability to witness in our daily lives.
Recently our congregation supported the
Mar-Lu-Ridge 20/20 Appeal and the Gettysburg Seminary Capital Appeal
and are participating in the Born Anew to Serve Stewardship Program
to extend our Synod ministry, and of developing our potential as
Christian Stewards of the Gospel.
St. John's has also recently completed a
policy on Gifts to the Church, guidelines for the Governing Board of
the Parish House and for the use of the Parish House. A tape program
has been initiated for our sick and shut-ins.
The Sunday School celebrated the 200th
Anniversary of the founding of the Sunday School Movement in
September 1980. A special program was held with a reading on how the
first Sunday School came into being. A display of song books, lesson
materials, and many pictures were of great interest to all while
enjoying punch and cookies.
In 1981 the outside of the church building
was painted and an outside stairway to the organ chamber was built.
We are presently expanding our ministry to the elderly and disabled
with the construction of a ramp for easy access to our building and
with designated parking.
Giving thanks to God for His faithful
blessings upon us as a congregation and building upon the
dedication, witness and foundation of our brothers and sisters in
Christ for 250 years, we look forward to the future with great
anticipation and fervent desire to serve our Lord in this community
to the honor of His Name and to the furtherance of his Kingdom in
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