Simple touches, timeless message mark Heritage Sunday service


May 24, 1999|By Sally Voris | Sally Voris,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

THE BREEZE rustled tree leaves, and the bright sun shone on the green grass, as members of the Dorsey Emmanuel United Methodist Church celebrated Heritage Sunday May 16.

They sat on wooden chairs beneath a large white tent raised on the lawn below Dorsey Road and close to the woods above Deep Run. Some wore bonnets, hats and long dresses.

The men had lashed a large rough-hewn wooden cross onto one of two main support poles of the tent; they placed a wooden altar in front of it, a lectern beside it, and a piano close by. Sprays of fresh flowers adorned the front of the altar and the lectern.

Pastor Colin Phillips led the worship service. As part of the service, four young church members, Amy Guyton, Eva Grabowski, Kelli Joubert and Rachel Ross, did simple, expressive dance movements to the music of "Fill My Cup, Lord," sung by Verna Prehn.

Mamie Williams, the district superintendent of the Baltimore Washington Methodist Conference, preached the sermon. She complimented the church on its 149-year history and encouraged the congregation to plan for its future.

She told a story of a pastor who visited a parishioner who was preparing to die. The parishioner asked the pastor for a fork. She explained that she remembered church suppers in which parishioners were encouraged to "save their forks."

She knew that meant dessert would be a scrumptious pie or cake. By asking her pastor for a fork, the parishioner was telling her pastor she knew "the best was yet to come," Williams said.

At the end of the service, members of the Praise Choir from the Columbia Baptist Fellowship arrived. Church member Prehn greeted the group's director, Jenetha Holmes. Both sing in the Howard County Interfaith Choir. The group joined the congregation in singing, "Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me ."

Phillips referred to Willams' story as he invited everyone to a bountiful lunch: fried chicken, hot dogs, vegetable, gelatin and molded salads, rolls, potato chips, iced tea and fruit punch.

Adults mingled under the tent and on the lawn. Children played in the woods and on the swings. Members of the Praise Choir sat down at the piano and picked out religious songs. After lunch, the group, visitors and parishioners, sang, accompanied by the spirited piano playing of Charlie Borcherding.

The Praise Choir sang four gospel songs to close the program. Phillips invited everyone to enjoy cake and ice cream in the church social hall where people stayed until late afternoon.

Frozen treats and song

Parents shared frozen desserts with their children and congratulated them on their performance after the Elkridge Elementary School's spring concert Wednesday.

The program, directed by Debra Eschliman and Sharon Punte, was accompanied by Ellicott City resident Lance Batchelder, husband of special education teacher Andrea Batchelder.

Forty-one third-graders sang partner songs -- two songs that harmonized -- and performed simple movements.

Joey Esposito, Ian Cole, Meghan Dorsey, Cierra Hinton, Allison Cashmark, Jessica Page, Maddie Miller, Julia Townsend, Cary Carr and Hannah Ogden accompanied "The Rhythm of the Rain," on percussive instruments.

After the group sang "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah," they moved off the stage as they whistled that happy tune.

When the curtain opened on the advanced chorus, 55 fourth- and fifth-graders moved and sang "Possibilities: A Celebration of Life" by Teresa Jennings. The piece consisted of five songs and narrated text.

The group snapped their fingers, clapped, moved and swayed. Between songs, more than 20 students read short lessons about life's journey.

It was a classic elementary school performance -- with the girls and boys dressed in white tops and black pants mostly.

Most moved with ease and rhythm; several were a half-step behind and awkward. One girl's hair had come out of her pigtails; others wore headbands and earrings.

Some were singing forcefully; some barely opened their mouths. Members of the group yawned; straightened their hair and smiled spontaneously. All seemed pleased to be performing and proud of their efforts.

The room was filled with parents, grandparents and other relatives, some with children on their laps. A 2-year-old yelled and stomped down the center aisle; a 3-year-old girl with blond ringlets around her face played quietly on the floor.

The advanced chorus sang "It's My Journey" as its last song. "It's my journey and I am on my way " the song began. Eschliman chose the music, she said, because the fifth-graders will move on to middle school next year. She hopes that they will make music throughout their lives.

They sang the chorus, knowing it was their last performance at the elementary school. "Minutes and hours are flying by/ Never to come back again/Each one is precious and that is why/Each one is also my friend."

Expressions, lessons

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