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Ministering and marriage

April 14, 2005|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

HANCOCK - For Anne and Allan Weatherholt, 1980 was an important year for a number of reasons.

Anne Weatherholt was ordained an Episcopal priest that year, only the third woman in the Maryland diocese at a time when women had just gained the right to be priests.

Allan Weatherholt, 56, was named rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Parish in Hancock 25 years ago, a post he continues to hold at the historic church at 2 E. High St.

As if that weren't enough, these two Episcopal priests were married that same year - to each other.

Allan Weatherholt's congregation feted him earlier this month with an anniversary celebration at the church. Friends, colleagues and family from all over the state journeyed to Hancock for the service.

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Among those in attendance were the Rev. Robert W. Ihloff, bishop of Maryland; the Rev. John Cozzoli, the bishop's chaplain; the Rev. Edward C. Chapman from Allan Weatherholt's home parish in Cumberland, Md.; and several other area pastors, former interns and community leaders.

Gifts, flowers and dinner highlighted the event. There were letters, certificates and the announcement of The Rev. F. Allan Weatherholt Scholarship Fund as part of the community ministry of the Interfaith Service Coalition.

"I am the 43rd rector at St. Thomas'," Allan Weatherholt said of the 170-year-old church. "Before me, the average stay was just two years."

Looking back over the past quarter century, Allan Weatherholt said he hopes he has been a stabilizing factor and positive force for the congregation. He also is proud that St. Thomas' has served as an intern site, training future church leaders.

The Sunday school and youth programs are thriving at St. Thomas, which bodes well not only for now but for the future.

"We recently had a mission trip to New York City on Martin Luther King Day, where we served people in a Manhattan soup kitchen," Allan Weatherholt said.

He said he is proud of the skyrocketing outreach in the community and beyond, citing Interfaith Coalition, the Good Samaritan Fund and other humanitarian efforts.

Allan Weatherholt goes to Zion Lutheran Church near Warfordsburg, Pa., once a month to administer communion to that congregation, which is currently without a pastor. Both he and Anne step in when needed for funerals and other services.

He also has been the Maryland State Police chaplain for the past 11 years.

Anne Weatherholt, 52, noted that during her husband's tenure, classrooms and program space were created at St. Thomas for the enhancement of worship and education.

While the Weatherholts live in Hancock with their two sons at St. Thomas' rectory, Anne heads her own congregation, St. Mark's Episcopal Church at Lappans, where she has served as rector since 1993.

On Feb. 3, she marked her 25th year of ordination.

"The two churches ... it blends well. Allan was the resident parent and he still is. That freed me to do my work," first at All Saints Episcopal Church in Frederick, Md., and then at St. Mark's, she said.

As the wife of the rector at St. Thomas, Anne Weatherholt has always helped with bazaars and hosted parish social events whenever she can.

"The parish here knew from the beginning that I was also a rector and they were fine with that," she said.

The fact that many women in the parishes also are working women helped, she said.

"It was the church raising the children sometimes - there was always someone who could help with the kids in an emergency."

Stephen, 16, and Daniel, 21, are involved at St. Thomas. And Daniel, a student at Hagers- town Community College, plays the organ at St. Mark's on occasion. Stephen plays trumpet and basketball at Hancock Middle-Senior High School.

The Weatherholts say they wouldn't trade the past 25 years for anything.

"When I was younger, I either wanted to be a teacher or perhaps an archivist in Williamsburg, Va.," Anne Weatherholt said. "As a rector, I get to teach quite often. And every Sunday when I don my robes, it is an historical re-enactment."

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