Building a new faith community isn't easy, as members of St. Timothy's Church have found.
Since members of the formerly Episcopal congregation voted to join the Catholic Church in February 2013, they've lost their historic church and seen friends go their separate ways, all the while wondering when a permanent pastor would be assigned to lead them.
"It's been a tough year," said Emory Stagmer, a music minister and former elder in the Episcopal church.
"In some ways, it's been a little bit of a downtime," he added.
They miss their beautiful old stone church that dates back to the 1800s — and all the other facilities on the property — on Ingleside Avenue. They miss the outreach and community service programs and fellowship they participated in.
But the congregation continues to worship together, as they have for nearly 170 years.
And the members are looking forward, nevertheless. They've extended the lease on the stone chapel at St. Mark's Catholic Church in Catonsville where they've gathered regularly for 10 a.m. Mass for the past year.
And they plan to celebrate their 170th anniversary on Sept. 11. No firm plans, it was announced at the July 6 Mass, but parishioners were instructed to mark their calendars.
The presence of visitors is encouraging, too, says Nancy Bellis, of Catonsville. "We have visitors every week," she said. "That's very unusual for a church this small."
The congregation used to have a full schedule of events at their Episcopal church. Now, Sunday Mass is about the only time the congregation gets together. Attendance is small, usually a few dozen.
The congregation would like to return to the 12-acre property they've helped preserve since the church's founding in 1844. They want to resurrect the outreach and ministries they maintained there: food ministry, counseling services, the annual Christmastime "Night in Bethlehem" and the Lenten community suppers.
"That's one of the things that kept us strong," Bellis said.
Why couldn't Catholic and Episcopal congregations share the sanctuary, wondered Lydia Temoshok, who served on the Episcopal vestry. "What's wrong with that?" she asked, emphasizing that ill feelings had nothing to do with the vote to become Catholic. "Everyone would come back and support the church, keep the church up.
"I worry about it. We're renting this space [at St. Mark] when we could rent that space [on Ingleside Avenue]," she said.
They raised the funds to renovate the rectory and restore the church — and now worry that the unused building will be vandalized.
There's still a food pantry at St. Timothy's, which this congregation supports, but it's not the mission it once was.
A sense of community
A skate park on the property has been locked tight since the final service at St. Timothy's. The park, renovated in 2010 with $50,000 in all-weather skate obstacles, was one reason Temoshok, the mother of a skateboarder, joined St. Timothy's. "Now it's sitting there," she said.
Sharon Tillman, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Episcopal Diocese, said no decisions have been made about the future of the Ingleside Avenue property.
Though they could move on, the congregation remains devoted to each other and to Catonsville. "All the stuff we did, we did for Catonsville," Temoshok, of Oella, said. "So much more could be done."