Downsville Church of the Brethren marks its 155th with food, fellowship

October 28, 2012|By DAVE McMILLION |
  • Sloane Dunn, 2, of Fairplay waits for her grandmother, Lynda Matheny, to fill her plate Sunday as the Downsville Church of the Brethren celebrated its 155th anniversay.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

DOWNSVILLE — Kerosene lights hanging from the ceiling, his and hers outhouses and two pot-bellied stoves to provide heat during the winter were among the features Downsville Church of the Brethren parishioners George Stumbaugh and Lila Mae Haywood remembered Sunday as the church celebrated its 155th anniversary.

“We froze on one side and roasted on the other,” said Haywood, 83, of Hagerstown.

The original 1857 church remains part of the current sanctuary, but carpeting now covers the bloodstains that are rumored to be from a Civil War soldier, said Stumbaugh, 80, of Williamsport.

The church was expanded in the mid-1960s, Stumbaugh and Haywood said.

A copy of a program for the Sept. 1, 1968, dedication service for the educational annex is in a display case in the church foyer, along with two kerosene lamps.

Nearby, on the bulletin board, are photographs of the original church, the current church and several past pastors.

Parishioner Lynn Bibbee, whose father was a pastor at the church, chaired the Nurture Commission that organized the anniversary celebration. Lila Mae Haywood, Robin Haywood and Kathy Hartle also served on the commission, Bibbee said.

Lila Mae Haywood, Stumbaugh and Ray Kline said they like the sense of family at the church.

“My wife and I were really welcomed at this church as if we’d been here a long time,” said Kline, who joined the church in the late 1980s.

“That’s why I continue to go here. Because they make you feel like family,” Stumbaugh said.

Stumbaugh also recalled fondly the eight-man choir, The Singing Brethren, he belonged to in the early 1970s. The group recorded two records — the vinyl type, he said.

“This church has a lot of wonderful voices,” he said.

Sunday’s celebration included lunch and a performance by The Heavners, a musical group from Harpers Ferry, W.Va., and Cumberland, Md.

The church averages 45 to 50 people in attendance at Sunday services, said Kline, 65, of Downsville. Kline serves as the church’s caretaker.

The church gained property when Nelson Harsh Jr. donated six to eight acres to it, Kline said. The church had been using part of that property already for parking and recreation, he said.

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