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Houses of worship abound

September 24, 2006

Washington County is home to about 200 houses of worship with diversification fueled by language or doctrine or both.

A group of churches and other houses of worship banded together years ago to form the Washington County Council of Churches in an effort to share ideas and work together.

In recent years, there was concern over why more churches weren't coming on board and the Rev. Stephen Robison said the answer finally came.

"As we looked at it, we saw that churches in outlying communities had their own local groups which dealt with issues similar to ours but not all the same," Robison said.

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The thought was to fine-tune the council to reflect where the membership was concentrated - in Hagerstown and the surrounding areas - and that has been done.

Robison, the pastor of Otterbein United Methodist Church in Hagerstown, is president of the Hagerstown Area Religious Council (HARC), which in May 2006 took the place of the Washington County Council of Churches.

"We decided to go with Hagerstown area and to take the word 'church' out," Robison said. "We want to be a voice for all people of faith, stressing our similaries, not our differences."

Other congregations worshipping in the area include:

· Congregation B'nai Abraham, 53 E. Baltimore St., Hagerstown. For more information, call 301-733-5039.

· Gateway Ministries, Md. 63 at Kemps Mill Road, Williamsport. Spanish services Saturday at 6 p.m. Telephone: 301-582-4595

· St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Lappans Road, Boonsboro. Each Sunday at 12:30 p.m., a Romanian Orthodox service is held for St. Philothea of Arges Mission. For more information, go to www.roea.org.

· Zion Assembly of God, 13814 Village Mill Drive, Maugansville. A group of people with Russian roots holds fellowship services Sundays at 2 p.m. and Wednesdays at 7 p.m. For more information about the Russian language services, call 301-739-3888 or 301-733-3790.

· Hagerstown Latino Church of the Nazarene, 141 N. Edgewood Drive, Hagerstown. Services in Spanish are held Sundays at 1:30 p.m. For more information, call 301-797-4524

· Iglesia Adventista del Septimo Dia (Spanish Seventh-day Adventist Church), 17805 Sherman Ave., Hagerstown. For more information, call 240-601-5623.

· Virginia Avenue Baptist Church, 17426 Virginia Ave., Hagerstown, Servicios en Espanol Domingo, Sundays at 7 p.m.

· The Islamic Society of Western Maryland, 2036 Day Road, Hagerstown. Telephone: 301-797-0922

· Living Water Church of Hagerstown (Korean Baptist Church), 20716 Lehman's Mill Road. For more information, call the Rev. Yang Sook Lee at 301-797-0611.

· St. Catherine's Eastern Orthodox Church, 433 Liberty St., Hagerstown. Telephone: 301-790-2616

· Tibetan Meditation Center, 9301 Gambrill Park Road, Frederick, Md., 301-473-5750 or 301-977-2228; or the Drikung Mahayana Center in Potomac, Md., at 240-238-1903.

More information can be obtained by calling Robison at 301-739-9386.

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