Methodists mark Heritage Week '93 with song, worship


April 22, 1993

"Our accomplishments are a part of your illustrative and your illustrious heritage. May God continue to combine our ministries to the honor and glory of His name. Shalom!"

Thus did two of the state's ecumenical leaders conclude their letter of congratulation to the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church, which is celebrating Heritage Week '93.

Signers of the letter were Bishop A. Theodore Eastman of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland and the Rev. Barbara Sands, president of the Central Maryland Ecumenical Council.

Heritage Week highlights the United Methodists' cultural, ethnic and racial diversity as part of the 197-year history of the Baltimore-Washington Conference. It will culminate Sunday in a public worship service at 2 p.m. in Old Otterbein Church at Sharp and Conway streets near the Inner Harbor.

The service will be followed at 3:30 p.m. by a concluding musical program, reception and dinner at Stouffer's Harborplace Hotel. Bishop Woodie W. White of Indiana, who was instrumental in the creation of the denomination's Commission on Religion and Race, will be the principal dinner speaker.

Events during the week have included a dramatic presentation, "God's Love and Saddlebags," Monday evening at Baltimore's historic Lovely Lane Church. The play was written and directed by the Rev. Edwin Ankeny.

On Tuesday, the German heritage of the former Evangelical United Brethren denomination, which united with Methodist groups in 1968 to form the present denomination, was celebrated in a program at Hagerstown's Otterbein Church.

Yesterday, Hispanic traditions were highlighted at Grace United Methodist Church in Takoma Park. Today, Methodists' Asian traditions were to be the subject of a program at the University of Maryland at College Park.

In a series of programs in Baltimore tomorrow, African-Americans' contributions to Methodism will be celebrated. Included will be tours starting at 9 a.m. from Sharp Street Memorial United Methodist Church, 1206 Etting St., and a worship service and dinner program beginning at 5 p.m. at Metropolitan United Methodist Church, 1121 W. Lanvale St.

The week's festivities were largely the result of planning by members of the once all-black Washington Conference, which merged with the church's Baltimore Conference in 1965. Last summer, the Baltimore Annual Conference was renamed the Baltimore-Washington Conference. It includes more than 730 churches in Maryland, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Information: 233-7300.

Beatification: Sunday's beatification in Rome of Sister Mary Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938) as a step toward her possible canonization as a saint of the Roman Catholic Church was celebrated locally that day in Masses at East Baltimore's Holy Rosary parish, 400 S. Chester St., St. Peter's Church in Libertytown and North Baltimore's Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, where Auxiliary Bishop John H. Ricard officiated.

The Polish nun joined a convent at the age of 20, was a cook, gardener and doorkeeper, and died of tuberculosis at the age of 32. One of her biographers, the Rev. George Kosicki, acknowledges that "on the surface" Sister Faustina was "nobody special."

The reason for her beatification by Pope John Paul II, the priest writes, is that "by her life of complete trust in God's infinite mercy, she shows us both how to receive mercy and radiate it out to others by deed, word and prayer."

Gospel music, dance: Gospel singers, both choruses and soloists, and dance ensembles will be featured in two dinner programs to benefit St. Stephen's A.M.E. congregation in Essex. The evening events will be Saturday at Back River United Methodist Church, 544 Back River Neck Road, and April 30 at St. Stephen's, 1601 Old Eastern Ave. Information: 686-9392.

Rich traditions: St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church, Lombard and Wolfe streets in East Baltimore, invites the public to see the results of its extensive restoration and share in its variety of programs.

Organized in 1852 as a German congregation, St. Michael's -- on the National Register of Historic Places since 1989 -- was designated last year as the chief Spanish-speaking parish of the Baltimore archdiocese. The cornerstone of the present building was laid in 1857 by the first pastor, St. John Neumann, who was canonized in 1976. Information: 276-1646.

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