Church to celebrate anniversaries

June 20, 1994|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Sun Staff Writer

Members of Mount Zion United Methodist Church in Finksburg will dig bonnets, long dresses, stiff-collared shirts and top hats out of their attics to wear to church Sunday.

The costumes are to celebrate the anniversaries of the church, which was formed 138 years ago, and the Sabbath school, formed 125 years ago.

A group of local residents met at the Finksburg School House in 1856 to incorporate Mount Zion church.

A history compiled by church members reports that the congregation bought a lot on the west side of the turnpike road that would become Route 140 and built a 30-by-40-foot church.

The congregation outgrew the original building and moved to its present site at 3006 Old Westminster Pike in 1896.

The history doesn't say how the Sabbath school was formed, but its independence from the church is a tradition.

The Sabbath school "has always enjoyed a separate but equal identity," said the Rev. James F. W. Talley, the church pastor.

Sunday's program will include a 10 a.m. service, lunch and an afternoon service of recollections by former pastors and music.

The church is forming a brass choir, which Mr. Talley hopes will be ready to perform at the anniversary service.

The day will be a time for memories.

"We'd get up early on anniversary day and pick roses from our fence and decorate the altar with our roses. It was so exciting. It was the only time my sister and I got two new dresses," June K. Twigg recalled.

Mrs. Twigg grew up in an active church family. Her father, Sherwood Kay, taught an adult Bible class and was superintendent of the Sunday school for many years. Her mother, Glova, taught Sunday school and was active in the women's group.

Mrs. Twigg, 68, is a lifelong member and former Sunday school teacher.

On anniversary day, Mrs. Twigg said, girls would change outfits between morning and afternoon services, so they got to wear both new dresses.

Edwin Armacost has been attending services at Mount Zion "pretty near every Sunday" of his 78 years, except for the six years he was in the armed services during World War II.

Mr. Armacost remembered that the Sabbath school, called the Finksburg Sunday School Association, charged annual fees for voting memberships. The fees were 25 cents for a man, 10 cents for a woman.

Fees for women were lower because "in those days, men had more say than women," Mr. Armacost said.

Armacost family members always walked to church from their home on Old Westminster Pike.

On Sunday afternoons, "half of Finksburg would be up here to take hikes, swim or skate," Mr. Armacost said. But no card playing.

"If you played cards, you were going straight to hell," he said.

Lenda Tingler is a native of West Virginia who was invited to Mount Zion church by a neighbor when she and her husband, Ralph, moved to Finksburg 42 years ago.

The women welcomed Mrs. Tingler into their social group.

"Those old ladies just took me in like I was their daughter," Mrs. Tingler said. "I never felt like an orphan, even after my mom and daddy died, until now I look around and they're all gone, too."

Mrs. Tingler recalls the older women patting oysters for church suppers, although she personally couldn't stand to touch the slippery bivalves.

She also remembers the annual Sabbath school picnic at Big Pipe Creek Park near Taneytown, where younger children swam in the creek and older ones skated at a nearby skating rink.

The picnic has been discontinued and the former skating rink is now a farm supplies and hardware store.

Mr. and Mrs. Tingler brought up their four children on a regimen of regular church attendance.

She worries now about the difficulty of attracting younger members.

Weekly attendance at Mount Zion averages 45 to 60. Mr. Talley would like to make it 100.

To that end, the congregation is adding 20 spaces to the parking lot, which is full when attendance reaches 60.

The church videotapes services to circulate among people who cannot attend and is starting a video curriculum in Sabbath school.

"We're trying to capture the vision of the people of the past and continue that vision into the future," Mr. Talley said.

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