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St. Thomas' Episcopal Church to celebrate 175th anniversary

April 30, 2010

HANCOCK -- St. Thomas' Episcopal Church will celebrate its 175th anniversary Sunday.

The church will welcome the Right Rev. Eugene T. Sutton, Episcopal Bishop of Maryland, to preside at the 4 p.m. celebration, which will include communion and confirmation.

The Rev. F. Allan Weatherholt, rector of St. Thomas', will assist Sutton along with the Rev. Anne O. Weatherholt, the Rev. Steven L. McCarty and neighboring clergy members.

The Rev. Edward C. Chapman, rector of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Cumberland, Md., will give the anniversary sermon.

The St. Thomas' choir will sing. Gwynne Cavey and former parishioner Daniel O. Weatherholt, now minister of music at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Lappans, will be at the Moller pipe organ.

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Displays of historic photos and memorabilia will be offered after the service, and dinner organized by parishioners Jane Shaw and Linda Mellott will be served.

The church's 175th anniversary committee includes Debbie Cohill, Suzy Hixon, Don Houck, Pam Mann, Beth McCarty, Mike Murphy, Tracy Salvagno, Bill Sterner, Sherry Talbert and Allan Weatherholt.

The church includes members from Morgan County, W.Va., and Fulton County, Pa., as well as Hancock. It is the church home for more than 300 area families.

In the late 1820s, the Rev. Leonard Johns of Cumberland began holding Episcopal services in both Hancock and Clear Spring.

By 1834, there were enough Episcopalians in Hancock to warrant the official establishment of a congregation under the Rev. John Delaplane. Land was procured along High Street atop what eventually would be known as Church Hill overlooking both the town and the Potomac River.

In the spring of 1835, workers were hired from the C&O Canal project under construction nearby.

Less than 30 years later, during the Civil War, the church served as a hospital for wounded Union soldiers. After Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson shelled Hancock in January 1862, troops occupied the church property for nearly 18 months in 1862 and 1863.

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