Ministers have 'had 125 years together'

September 04, 2011|By JANET HEIM |
  • The Revs. Dick Winters, left, and Dick Masters were ordained at Christ Reformed United Church of Christ in Cavetown. Winters was ordained 65 years ago and Masters was ordained 60 years ago.
By Yvette May, Staff Photographer

CAVETOWN — The similarities are mind-boggling.
Both men are named Richard, but prefer to be called “Dick.” Both grew up in Smithsburg and graduated from Smithsburg High School three years apart.

Both were members of Christ Reformed United Church of Christ in Cavetown, baptized and confirmed at the church they attended regularly with their families as they were growing up.

Both went to Lancaster (Pa.) Theological Seminary, both married women from Pennsylvania the same year they were ordained, and both were ordained at their home church in Cavetown, serving decades in the ministry.

Early in their ministries, they served adjoining parishes in Pennsylvania.

Recently, the Rev. Dick Winters, 90, celebrated the 65th anniversary of his ordination and the Rev. Dick Masters, 86, his 60th anniversary.

From there, though, their stories diverge.

‘Fruit of the vine’
Dick Winters, his five sisters and two brothers were raised at an orchard.

“My dad and mother were fruit farmers. All eight of us grew up as fruit of the vine,” Winters said.

The family provided the church with fruit wine for communion.

Winters graduated from high school in 1940 and was rejected for military service due to a medical condition. He studied at Franklin and Marshall College for four years, then spent three years at Lancaster Theological Seminary. He was ordained in 1946.

While at the seminary, he noticed Peggy Herr walking to her secretarial job at Armstrong Cork Co. from her home near the seminary.

“I had good eyesight. I could see her going to work from my dorm,” Winters said.

He also enjoyed hearing her sing on Saturday nights with a female singing group.

The couple dated, then married in 1946. They have four children — including a set of twins — nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

The family traveled all over the country for Winters’ ministry. He served several churches in Pennsylvania, then in Oklahoma City, Okla., before returning to lead his home parish by request.

“They were really hard up. Brother Samuel was a farmer here. He did his own recruiting,” Winters said with a laugh and his trademark dry sense of humor.

His work also included colleges in Pennsylvania, Texas, Iowa, California and Florida, as well as a social-service organization in Oklahoma City.

“Peggy will tell you they just liked to travel,” said the Rev. Carol Hallman, current pastor at Christ Reformed UCC in Cavetown.

“It’s been a future I never would have picked before I met him,” said Peggy Winters, 89, who grew up in a “stiff and straight” Presbyterian church.

Early days
Dick Masters grew up in Smithsburg, a block from the school, and worked in the local orchards. He had one brother, who was 16 years younger.

Masters graduated from high school in 1943, then served in the U.S. Navy for three years. He attended Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C., on the G.I. Bill, the only college that would accept him midyear, Masters said.

He attended seminary in Lancaster and met Anita Mann of Doylestown, Pa., when he was a student assistant at her church.

“I was trained as a chemist,” said Anita Masters, who grew up in a Reformed church. “I worked as a control chemist for a drug company. It was a complete switch to more theoretical thinking.”

The couple was married in 1951 and have two sons, one grandson and four stepgrandchildren.

“Dick Winters signed my ordination papers,” Masters said.

Masters served two churches in Pennsylvania before returning to Hagerstown to serve the Church of the Holy Trinity, retiring in 1990.

“Each of the three places were good for where we were in life,” said Anita Masters, 84.

They now live at Homewood Retirement Village in Williamsport.

Winters and Masters join two other members of the church who went into the ministry before them — Charles Santee and Edward B. Harp. Winters credits church leaders for that.

“It’s an easy answer — preachers who were genuine and spiritual, leaders who cared about their members,” he said.

Family traditions
Even though both men admit they weren’t always angels in church during their youth, they did learn what was acceptable behavior there. They also enjoyed being part of worship — the Masters family sitting in the back row and the Winters family in the fourth or fifth row — and youth activities.

“We were vital parts of the youth fellowship,” Masters said.
Masters said he helped build the church addition before he went away to college.

“Coming back here was quite an experience because this was my grandmother’s church, then my father’s church, my mother’s church, the children’s church (including two who were organists there),” Winters said.

For Masters, church membership in the family goes back to his grandfather.

The ordination anniversaries were celebrated on July 10, with the Rev. John Deckenback, minister for the Central Atlantic Conference of the United Church of Christ Conference, invited to participate in worship.

A luncheon followed the service. Their wives also were recognized and given handmade olive wood crosses made in Jerusalem as gifts.

Peggy Winters volunteered with Hospice of Washington County for 20 years and Anita Masters worked there for a decade. She currently volunteers as a surgical chaplain at Meritus Medical Center.

The Winterses, who attend church at Christ Reformed UCC in Cavetown, were surprised by the celebration. The Masterses had to be alerted to the date and occasion, since they attend church at Church of the Holy Trinity in Hagerstown, the last parish Dick Masters served.

Each of the men received signed white stolls and a print of the church, made by a church member who is an artist.

“We’ve had 125 years together. We don’t know where the time has gone,” Masters said.

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