11:55 AM EDT, June 23, 2011
A tiny church tucked inside Patapsco Valley State Park dedicates a pew Sunday to one of its most famous former congregants, the late William Donald Schaefer.
Gary Memorial United Methodist Church has just 80 worshipers most Sundays, but for many years, one of them was the former mayor, governor and comptroller.
Schaefer found his way to the stone church in the woods when the pastor was Luther Starnes, his former secretary of human resources. He left Gary Memorial $10,000 in his will.
The dedication takes place at 11 a.m. at the church, 2029 Daniels Road inEllicott City.
The plate bears a photo of Schaefer and these words: "Dedicated to the memory and service of William Donald Schaefer, a man of simple faith."
The invite for the service includes a quotation from Schaefer:"Reflecting on Gary Memorial, I find myself looking forward to that hour on Sunday mornings when I can be near so many fine people. The congregation is so welcoming. I have felt at home since my first visit, years ago. But, it’s not just that I am made to feel at home; it’s the way people greet one another and are genuinely glad to be together. I enjoy the music; the choir is so enthusiastic. They sing from the heart. I love seeing young people involved in the services. There is nothing phony or pretentious about Gary Memorial. The congregation is as solid and as enduring as the stone the church is made from."
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