Around Sharpsburg and Keedysville

March 29, 2006|by HARRY NOGLE

Masons hold joint communication

The Master, Wardens and Brethren of Antietam Lodge 197 of Keedysville traveled to Hyattsville, Md., on March 21 to hold a joint communication with Mt. Hermon Lodge 179.

Under a special dispensation granted by Ronald Belanger, grand master of Masons in Maryland, the two lodges were able to act as one.

Worshipful Masters Lawrence Hines of Mt. Hermon 179 and Jeff Stouffer of Antietam 197 presided over the evening's communication.

The purpose of this meeting was to present the "Empty Chair Sign" from their Masonic event held at the historic Dunkard Church in September 2003. More than 60 lodges and seven grand jurisdictions participated in this special degree held on the 141st anniversary of the Battle of Antietam.


This degree was developed in the 1860s in the Dakota territories by the soldiers stationed on the frontier to honor their fallen comrades. Masons coming from different Masonic jurisdictions and foreign countries shared the bond of fraternity, but their ritual for a departed brother was not always the same, thus causing confusion. This degree created uniformity among the brethren and has been used by the military since that time.

The "Empty Chair Sign" will travel to each of the participating lodges and there signed by the master of the lodge, and then continue its journey until returning to Antietam Lodge 197, where there will be a special commemoration ceremony. The sign has traveled throughout the Tri-State region, Canada, Europe and Asia. The sign will next stop at Door-To-Virtue Lodge 46 in Westminster, Md.

Antietam Lodge 197 meets on the first and third Tuesdays of the month at their Masonic Temple at 7 S. Main St. in Keedysville. All Masons are welcomed to attend and public inquiries are invited. For information, call Lodge Secretary Gene Drennen at 301.432.5324 or e-mail at

Historical Society to present grant

The Sharpsburg Historical Society will offer a $750 Kirk T. and Page T. Otto Memorial grant to a Boonsboro High School graduating senior who plans to pursue a career in history, or the preservation of historical structures, cultural artifacts or natural resources. The grant will be sent directly to the financial aid office of the institution the student will be attending. The application deadline is April 28, and completed applications can be delivered to Boonsboro High School before that date. For information, call Historical Society President Edie Wallace at 301-432-8765.

Community Lenten services continue

The annual Keedysville Community Lenten Services have expanded this year to include Trinity Reformed UCC in Boonsboro and Christ Reformed UCC in Sharpsburg. All services will be held at 7 on Wednesday evenings. The following is a schedule and location of the various services:

March 29 - Lenten service at Mt Vernon Reformed UCC, Keedysville at 7 p.m. The Rev. Dr. John Deckenback, Central Atlantic Conference minister of the United Church of Christ, will present a slide show and speak on the topic of Israel and Palestine.

April 5 - Lenten service at Christ Reformed UCC, Sharpsburg.

An ecumenical service will be held at Trinity Reformed UCC in Boonsboro on Good Friday, April 14.

Conservationist to speak at Lions Club

State Conservationist Jim Schlossnagle will speak at the April 20 meeting.

The Sharpsburg Lions will continue selling country ham sandwiches for only $2 by phone order until Monday, April 3. The sandwiches may be picked up Thursday, April 6, after 5 p.m. or will be delivered Friday, April 7. Call 301-739-8245 or 301-733-8874 to place your orders.

Other regularly scheduled activities planned by the Sharpsburg Lions for the month of April are as follows:

Reeder's Pie Call (April 4, 2 p.m.);

Regular meeting: making country ham sandwiches (April 6);

Fahrney-Keedy Sing-a-Long (April 13, 7 p.m.);

Easter egg hunt (April 16, 2 p.m., Little League field);

Second regular meeting (April 20, 7 p.m.): Jim Schlossnagle to speak;

Leader Dog Banquet, Washington Square United Methodist Church (April 25);

Regular meetings of the Sharpsburg Lions are held at the Lions' Den at St. Paul's Episcopal Church on Main Street in Sharpsburg.

Battlefield seeks cleanup helpers

Antietam National Battlefield will be among 80 historic sites in 24 states to benefit from a volunteer effort Saturday, April 1, from 9 a.m. to noon. The Civil War Preservation Trust is recruiting volunteers to help clean and restore historic battlefields, cemeteries and shrines. The one-day effort is being called Park Day.

Volunteers are needed to clean up trails and stream banks, remove cedar seedlings and assist with other restoration projects. Battlefield staff will provide any needed equipment. Volunteers are asked to dress for the weather, bring a water bottle and gloves and wear sturdy boots.

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