Havre de Grace churches to open their doors for annual tour Sunday

Churches of all size congregations, practices and denominations will open their doors Sunday for the annual tour and open house of Havre de Grace's historic 19th and 20th Century churches.

Six churches - Havre de Grace United Methodist Church, St. Johns Episcopal Church, St. Patrick Catholic Church, First Baptist Church, St. James AME Church and Grace Reformed Episcopal Church - are participating in the 14th year of the church tour.

From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, the churches will open their doors, extending welcome to believers of all faiths and non-believers to tour and ask questions about the church, its congregations and its ministry. The tour is sponsored by the Susquehanna Ministerium.

Tour organizer, Pastor Ron Smith, of First Baptist Church, said people come from Pennsylvania, Baltimore City and County, Abingdon, Bel Air and Fallston to tour the churches each year.

"It's about the churches coming together to show not only the individual denominations, but the 'Church of Havre de Grace,'" Smith said. "This is about showing the world that we are in the mindset toward unity. But, no two denominations are the same with different emphasis and practices, but even with those differences we are still a family, the family of God."

"Church of Havre de Grace" is a term used to describe the ministries in Havre de Grace area as one collective body worshiping, instead of individual churches, Smith said.

Smith said during the tour people come and ask questions about the faith aspects of the churches, but also about their individual histories.

"These are historic churches," Smith said. "[First Baptist] just celebrated 100 years as a congregation. The Methodist church celebrated 100 years a few years ago and the Episcopal church is 200 years old."

During the tour, Smith said the churches also highlight their different resources, such as food pantries, clothing shelters and transitional housing for people experiencing homelessness.

The tour is self-guided. Tour brochures are available at the Havre de Grace United Methodist Church or Havre de Grace Tourism Center.

This will be the first year the tour hasn't be organized by Ray Astor of Havre de Grace. Astor, 91, said recently he decided to "retire" from his volunteer post and leave younger folks to carry on his enthusiasm for the annual event.

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