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Church to mark 100 years at Sharpsburg site

April 10, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

SHARPSBURG - It's been 100 years since a group of dedicated churchgoers moved into the "new" Sharpsburg Church of the Brethren and began a century of worship and growth.

Aware of the struggles and sacrifices of those parishioners so many years ago, the current congregation is poised to celebrate and remember during a series of special services this centennial year.

Indeed, an 84-page book with pictures, history and commentary has been published to mark the event.

A two-day round of activities will begin Saturday, April 17, with a 2 p.m. open house and concert featuring humorous church life songs by Harvey Bricker Jr.

On Sunday, April 18, the Rev. Fred Bernhard, former pastor, will be the featured speaker at the 100th anniversary service at 10 a.m. He is pastor of Oakland Church of the Brethren in Gettysburg, Ohio.

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Members of the church choirs, past and present, will present special music on April 18 under the direction of Betty and Ted Otto.

A luncheon that day will be served at 12:30 p.m. The Morning Star Singers will be in concert at 2 p.m.

The congregation will celebrate 100 years in its current location in downtown Sharpsburg. Before that, church members met at the Dunker Church, at the edge of the Antietam Battlefield north of town.

The roots of the little church was an outreach of the Manor Church of the Brethren, about 10 miles north off Sharpsburg Pike.

Religious philosophy, which often accounted for churches breaking off and forming new congregations, held that baptism was for adults, not babies or children.

And the form of that baptism - full immersion - led to the nickname of Dunkers that has stuck through the ages.

"Indeed, we will have a buggy in the Sept. 19 Heritage Day Parade and there will be four people dressed as Dunkers," said Lilly Grayson, a member of the history committee at the church.

The Dunker Church was built in 1852, survived the Battle of Antietam and stood until 1921, when it was blown down in a storm.

The history of the church reveals that some children couldn't be induced to make the long walk from town out to the Dunker Church.

Plus more and more members were living in town, and so the search began for a site there. That search came up with the present location at 123 E. Main St.

A small log house and an outbuilding had to be torn down to make way for the new brick church, which was 40 feet wide and 52 feet long.

In the early years at the new building, the congregation struggled to modernize. For example, the purchase of a new organ was considered controversial and didn't happen for a long time.

There were other growing pains as the congregation became more independent.

The current church, with many improvements, additions and changes over the years, still stands at the same location.

All celebration events will be open to the public.

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