Anniversary marked by stamp

August 09, 2005|by Alicia Notarianni

CHEWSVILLE - In 1805, circuit rider George Adam Geeting began riding his horse from his Antietam Valley home to preach at the home of Michael and Christina Spessard in Chewsville. The group that gathered there flourished and went on to form the congregation of Bethel United Methodist Church.

On Saturday, Aug. 6, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., a silhouetted likeness of Geeting and his horse made an appearance on hundreds of postal envelopes, as the church celebrated its 200th anniversary with a postal cancellation.

More than 200 people made their way to Bethel United Methodist Church, purchasing about 175 envelopes stamped with a commemorative logo.


Sharon Poole, postmaster at the Chewsville Post Office, conceived the idea.

"Knowing the 200th anniversary celebration was coming up, I just said, 'Why don't we do a special cancellation?'" Poole said.

Poole addressed the church's anniversary committee, explaining that the U.S. Postal Service grants special cancellations for commemorative events. The committee had an enthusiastic response. Committee members chose local artist and church member Beulah "Snuffy" Hartman to design the commemorative logo. Poole sent the prototype to a retail office of the Postal Service in Baltimore, where the cancellation ink stamp was produced.

Hartman said she was pleased with the simplicity of the cancellation. In addition to the silhouette of a man on a horse representing Geeting, the founder of the church, the design features a cross and shield symbolizing Christianity.

"I wanted it to be something you would recognize right away," Hartman said.

Donna Johnson, 35, of Hagerstown, purchased seven commemorative canceled envelopes - one for each of her six children, and one for her and her husband to share.

"My husband and I actually met at this church, so this will be something very special to pass down through the family," Johnson said.

People who took part in the postal cancellation had the option to bring their own envelopes, or to buy envelopes bearing a sketch of the church for $2. They bought postal stamps for their envelopes, and the cancellation was free.

While Poole said canceled envelopes can be mailed on the day of the cancellation, most people at Bethel said they preferred to hold on to them for their commemorative value.

Lynn Harshman, 44, and his mother, Virginia Harshman, 86, both of Middletown, Md., are church members who attended the cancellation event.

Lynn Harshman exercised care in choosing his stamps to be canceled. He opted for a patriotic stamp in memory of his father who served in World War II, an aviation stamp for himself because he is an air-traffic controller and a breast cancer awareness stamp for his wife, because her mother passed away from the disease.

"I had reasons," Lynn Harshman said. "I'll hold on to these then pass them down."

Poole said the Bethel United Methodist Church 200th anniversary commemorative logo cancellation will be listed in the U.S. Postal Bulletin. The cancellation is available at the Chewsville Post Office until Sept. 6.

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