DEER PARK — Thirty-five years ago this past Sunday, members of Trinity Lutheran Church gathered to dedicate their new building on Deer Park Road.
In honor of that congregation and those who started the church 125 years ago, members have repeated the Sept. 8, 1956 service in the original edifice.
"It's part of what we are doing as a yearlong celebration of our 125th anniversary," said Trinity's pastor, the Rev. Keith Hardy.
The old church, vacant since the newer structure was built across the road, was spruced up for the special day, evoking fond memories amongolder members.
"I was baptized there, took First Communion there and was christened there," said Norman Magin, 61. "I have been very loyal to Trinity Lutheran all my life and know nothing else but Trinity Lutheran."
Magin, whose great-grandfather was one of the early members who had emigrated from Germany, remembered happy times in the Sunday School of the old church.
"I remember that we would get little booklets every Sunday," he said. "We'd get blue stars for making attendance, and for so many blue tickets you'd get a red one. Then, for X number of red ones you'd get a gift -- a picture of Christ or something else Christian-oriented."
Structural details and reciting pieces for the Christmas program in the old church remain fresh in Dean Miller's mind.
"I've been a member ever since I was born, as long as I can remember," said Miller, 65. "I remember the big, old stove in the middle of the church that we used to heat the church, and the lamps on the side walls.
"They were lit with kerosene and eventually turned into electric," he said.
Miller also recalled sitting in the balcony during services as a young man.
"When we passed theplate for collection, people in the balcony would take a man's hat, pass it around, take it down and dump it in the plate," he said. "That happened almost every Sunday."
Other members remembered how services used to be sexually segregated.
"The one thing that sticks the most in my mind is how the women sat on one side and the men sat onthe other," said Janet Bish, a lifelong member for 57 years. "For communion, the oldest men would go first, down to the younger men and then down through the women. Of course, we no longer do that."
The Rev. Frederick Eckhardt, pastor of Grace Lutheran in Westminster and guest minister for the celebration, recalled the time he spent at Trinity Lutheran.
While a young student at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg, Pa., Eckhardt occasionally preached at Trinityat the request of his minister, the Rev. Harold Redcay.
Redcay was the pastor of Trinity Lutheran in Deer Park and Trinity Lutheran inReisterstown.
"That was one of the reasons I was asked back, as sort of a son of the congregation," Eckhardt said. "Many of (the congregation members) remember me and I remember them, so it's nice to be back again."
Members still have to decide how the old church -- vacated when the foundation showed signs of weakening -- will be used.
"We're going to restore it to some sort of productive use and keepit looking nice," Hardy said. "We have yet to determine what needs to be done to restore it for regular use."
Suggestions have ranged from using it as a chapel for meditation to conducting small weddingsand funerals there.
"One nice thing is that even though there is no air conditioning, we can open the windows and get a nice cross-breeze in the warmer months," Hardy said.
Amid all the reminiscing, members eagerly look ahead.
"There are a lot of possibilities in our future," said Bish. "There's a lot of development in the area, and we could grow."