DEER PARK — Trinity Lutheran Church has been part of Anna Gorsuch's life since the day she was born.
"I've always been a member of the church," she said. "I joined when I was baptized by Pastor (William) Seabrook athome."
From serving on the church council to teaching Sunday School, the68-year-old has made the church a central part of her life.
In the early 1970s, Gorsuch became the first woman to serve on Trinity's church council. For the next eight years, she attended every weekly meeting save one, and a woman has served on every council since, she said.
"Behind every good man, there's a better woman," Gorsuch said with a laugh.
"The only meeting I missed was when I had gall-bladder surgery, and then for the following meetings they came here, so I didn't get out of it then."
But some of her fondest memories are from working with the Sunday School children for 50 years, a position from which she resigned in September.
"I like working with young people, I've worked with them all my life," Gorsuch said. "I like to see the second and third generations coming along."
The retired schoolteacher began instructing Sunday School students at the age of 18,after she graduated from Sykesville High.
"Mr. Carroll Owings (the Sunday School superintendent) told me that now that I was a high school graduate, I should start teaching the class," she said.
Taking over the young adult class, Gorsuch soon found she was teaching pupils older than herself.
"There was no class between the older students and the adults," she said. "Some fellows were drafted into WorldWar II, and when they came back they wanted to stay in the group."
While instructing the ladies' Bible class, Gorsuch had the opportunity to lead her mother and grandmother in their studies.
"There was such a wide variety of ages," she said.
Classes at the old church were conducted in the sanctuary before the service, Gorsuch said.
"It was interesting," she said of the seven classes of 25 students each. "There were no partitions, and we'd all be talking at the same time. But we all heard all right.
"There were so many classes and so many people. Once in a while we'd lose one of the younger children," Gorsuch admitted. "They'd climb under the table or go into a cupboard."
Sunday School membership is now down to an average of 10 students in 11 classes, Gorsuch said.
"What else did people have to do on a Sunday?" she asked. "People were glad to get away and meet other people."
After 50 years -- 17 as superintendent -- Gorsuch decided it was time to resign from teaching.
"I got to thinking, 'I'vebeen here for 50 years, it's time for a change, new blood,' " she said.
Upon her resignation, church members secretly planned a ceremony to honor her service.
At the Rally Day to recruit Sunday Schoolmembers in October, Gorsuch was presented with a proclamation sponsored by then-Sen. Sharon W. Hornberger for 50 years of teaching SundaySchool.
"I was shocked and surprised," she said.
Gorsuch continues working for the church, serving as president of the Ladies Aid Association, serving on the Christian education and music committees and being actively involved the church's annual Dutch Picnic, said theRev. Keith Hardy, pastor of Trinity.
"Family and church are the most important things in my life," Gorsuch said.
Active church membership is a family tradition, she said, adding that her father servedas a church councilman, treasurer and a master carpenter during construction of the new church in 1955.
Her two daughters, their husbands and her four grandchildren all attend Trinity.
Daughter Doris Shropshire serves as the organist and director of music, and son-in-law Guy Myers recently stepped down as president of the church council.
"She's one of the old Carroll County types," said Hardy. "Her whole family is involved with the church."
Following in grandmother's footsteps is 18-year-old Tiffany Myers, who began teaching Sunday School this year.
Gorsuch's current project, between serving on committees and working part-time for the Washington Heights Pharmacy, ishelping to get the old church restored and recognized as a historic landmark.
Services in the original structure are planned for the church's 125th anniversary in September.