Church raises funds through friendliness

August 08, 2005|by Alicia Notarianni

ROHRERSVILLE - At the foot of the hill on Locust Grove Road in Rohrersville stands a sign introducing Mount Zion Lutheran Church. It reads: "The Friendly Church. All welcome."

Beyond the church, across the narrow road, is the church's activities building, Friendship Hall. One promptly gets the sense that kindliness is next to godliness at Mount Zion.

The congregation is capitalizing on its friendly reputation to help raise funds to build a new sanctuary. On Saturday, July 23, from 3 to 6 p.m., more than 175 people gathered at Friendship Hall for fellowship at the third annual all-you-can-eat pig roast and fried chicken dinner. Organizers expected to raise roughly $600.


Dale Gaber, 42, of Boonsboro, attended the dinner along with his wife, Sandy Gaber, 59, and his parents Shelby Gaber, 63, and Donald Gaber, 71, also of Boonsboro, who recently became members of the church. Dale Gaber said it was his second year attending the dinner.

"We like to come because everyone is so friendly," Dale Gaber said. "They really make you feel like you're welcome."

Murray Reed, 64, dined with his wife and daughter, Mary Pfeiffer, 64, and Jeannie Lustig, 43, all from Hagerstown. They said it was their first time attending the Mount Zion dinner.

"The people are fantastic - friendly and polite. And there's nothing like the country cooking," Murray Reed said. "It's a good time."

Church member Malcolm Palmer, 81, of Hagerstown, volunteered his services at the dinner. Donning a wide smile and a bow tie, he bustled about the hall with trays of food and drinks, all the while singing the 1930s ditty "Let Me Call You Sweetheart."

Dottie Butts, 78, of Hagerstown, has attended Mount Zion Lutheran her whole life. She said the church always has been about friends, fun and faith.

"You can hear the friendly buzz in here. That's what makes it go. We are one for all and all for one," Butts said.

Miriam Dunlap, 68, of Rohrersville, helped organize the dinner and served on the food line. As people passed through, she cheerfully called those she knew by name, and quickly became acquainted with those who were unfamiliar.

"I think all the members of our church are friendly. If you came to our church, you would not leave without somebody talking to you as if you'd known them for years," Dunlap said.

Her husband, Dan Dunlap, 67, is chairman of the Mount Zion Lutheran Church building committee. Dan Dunlap said the congregation is outgrowing its original home, a stone structure constructed in 1844. The building has no air conditioning and lacks space for Sunday school classes and fellowship activities.

In response, the church built Friendship Hall in 1997. Each Sunday, around 75 members of the congregation go to church services in the original building, then walk to Friendship Hall for Sunday school classes. The congregation is working to raise money to build a new sanctuary that will be connected to the front of Friendship Hall, merging the church's core activities into one serviceable building.

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