Treasures displayed during Holiday Tour of Houses of Worship

December 27, 2012|By DAVE McMILLION |
  • Thirty one poinsettias decorate the altar at St Mary Catholic Church on W. Washington St during the House of Worship Holiday Tour
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

The reredos at St. John’s Episcopal Church, featuring ornate carvings in oak that came from the Black Forest in Germany.

The majestic interior of Trinity Lutheran Church, which features a Schantz Organ Company organ with four hand keyboards.

The stained glass windows at John Wesley United Methodist Church, which includes the massive Rose Window that church officials are planning to renovate soon at a cost of about $50,000.

Those features were among the treasures local residents were able to see inside Hagerstown area churches Thursday afternoon and evening during the second annual Holiday Tour of the Houses of Worship in Hagerstown.

The tour of 16 churches had been scheduled for Wednesday but it was postponed for a day due to inclement weather.

The tour was sponsored by the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau and it was hosted by St. John’s Episcopal Church at 101 S. Prospect St.

A reredos is an ornamental screen or partition wall behind an altar. The one at St. John’s Episcopal Church sits in a high Gothic altar, which visitors gazed at during the tour.

The reredos, which features scenes such as the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and The Last Supper, was a gift from Mollie MacGill Rosenberg. Rosenberg, a former member of the church, had the piece commissioned for the church in 1897 and it was similar to a reredos that Rosenberg gave to her home parish in Galveston, Texas.

A pianist played softly while visitors such as John Kane walked through the church, which was built in 1872.

Kane lives in Harpers Ferry, W.Va., and he said he came to Hagerstown for the tour because it is nice to have fellowship with other Christians during such an event.

“It’s beautiful to be able to see the variety of sanctuaries of Jesus,” Kane said.

Stained glass windows surround the interior of John Wesley United Methodist Church at 129 N. Potomac Street. A series of widows around the lower section of the church tell the story of Jesus Christ while stained glass windows on the upper level tell the story of the church.

Monika Wertman of Hagerstown said the tour was a real treat, especially since churches aren’t able to keep their doors open like they used to because of problems with vandalism.

Senior Pastor Bill Warehime said he just started preaching at John Wesley United Methodist in July. Before he came to John Wesley, Warehime said he was the pastor at Bethel United Methodist Church in Chewsville.

Warehime said he used to leave Bethel United Methodist Church open all the time for people, but he can’t do that at his new church downtown.

Warehime said one of the biggest challenge he has had to deal with in being a pastor in Hagerstown is the number of homeless people downtown “and everything that goes along with that.”

Warehime said it’s difficult trying to be sympathetic to the homeless people while trying to meet the needs of his congregation.

“It’s just life of downtown,” Warehime said.

The first recorded act of Methodist preaching downtown was when Francis Asbury arrived in town on horseback on July 17, 1776, 13 days after signing the Declaration of Independence, according to a history of Methodism in Hagerstown that was handed out during the tour.

Asbury said it seemed that “Satan was the chief ruler in town” and he commented about the people who were “busy drinking, swearing, drumming, etc.”

But Asbury felt better after preaching based on Mark 1:15, according to the history.

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