Pipe Creek Brethren Celebrates Church's 100th Birthday

October 30, 1991|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,Staff writer

LINWOOD — When the congregation of Pipe Creek German Baptist Church dedicated its newly rebuilt church the first Sunday in November 1891, so many people attended that some could not get inside for services.

The Rev. Stan Diehl, minister at what is now Pipe Creek Church of the Brethren, and the church's 100th Anniversary Committee, are hoping for an equally large turnout Sunday when they re-dedicate the century-old sanctuary.

"We're celebrating with an old-fashioned service, much as it was 100 years ago when the church was built," Diehl said.

"We're not using clocks or watches. We've asked people not to wear jewelry but todress plainly, in dark clothing, as they did back then. Some of the women also will wear a prayer bonnet," he said.

For the 10:30 a.m.service, the men will be seated on the right side of the sanctuary, the women on the left. The original Deacon's Table will be placed in front of the congregation, where the deacons sat during services and spoke when moved to do so.

A horse and buggy will stand in front of the Pipe Creek Road church as an example of the way parishioners used to travel.

A light luncheon will be served in the fellowship hall after the service. At 2 p.m., Diehl will conduct a sharing-reunionservice and rededicate the sanctuary.

John Green Jr., pastor of Bush Creek Church of the Brethren in Frederick County and a former moderator at Pipe Creek, will speak on "The Gathering of the Flock" for the re-dedication.

The gathering will "line sing" during the service, as members did years ago: The leader says a line of the song, then the congregation sings it.

"We sent out about 200 letters to individuals who have their roots at Pipe Creek," said Betty Conrad, committee chairman. "The former pastors and all area Church of the Brethren congregations, for which Pipe Creek is the mother church, were invited."

The Pipe Creek Church of the Brethren goes back much beyond100 years. The congregation was begun in 1758 by Martin Urner II, who came from Germantown, Pa., to start the church that would be the founding church for all Church of the Brethren congregations in the eastern district of Maryland.

Known as the German Baptist Church, or the Society of Dunkers for their total immersion of members during baptism, the Pipe Creek congregation met in members' homes until 1793.

"They built a little log building with the idea of using it as a combination church-school in 1793," committee member Julia Cairns said. "They stopped using that in 1806, when they built a little brick church, added to that in 1866, then tore it down in 1891 and built thischurch next to the original site."

Bricks from the 1806 church were kept and used in the present building. The 45-by-80-foot sanctuary, which includes an upstairs loft and downstairs fellowship hall, kitchen and Sunday school rooms, cost $3,000.

"They built the larger church here because all the people from the other churches came here for the Love Feasts and annual district meetings," Cairns said.

"They had a place upstairs, where the people stayed overnight when theycame, because they traveled by horse and buggy. The buggy sheds werehere until 1910."

A major change for the church came in 1908, when it left the Baptist Church to become the Church of the Brethren. The Pipe Creek congregation got its first full-time, paid minister in 1946. Previously, it had been served by free elders, or pastors.

Other changes came over the years. A piano was installed in the 1920s for musical accompaniment, which was replaced by a digital computerized organ in the mid-1950s. Hymnals now offer the notes along with the words of the hymns.

"I remember being baptized in the creek," Cairns said. "Now they do that in the church.

"I remember when the menand women were still seated separately. Now, of course, they mingle."

But not everything has changed. One thing that remains is the church's simplicity. There's no carpet on the floor, the pews are hard wood and only a plain valance and Venetian blinds adorn the clear glass windows.

The church still has its Love Feast twice a year: the first Sunday in October for World Communion Sunday and Holy Thursday at Easter. The service is taken from the Last Supper, when Christ washed his disciples' feet.

"We have a simple meal around a table, with the women on one side and men on the other. And, after eating, we take turns washing each other's feet," Diehl said. "It's an act of service and humility."

The Church of the Brethren takes its creed from the Bible's New Testament, Diehl said, and the denomination continues strongly to advocate peace.

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