St. James' Episcopal Church in Parkton is preparing for its 100th anniversary in 2013 by looking at its past. It is also planning for the future by hiring a new priest.
Rev. Daniel Hinkle began a two-year assignment on Oct. 1 as priest-in-charge at the small church on York Road in Parkton. After two years, he, the parishioners and the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland will decide if the job becomes permanent.
Hinkle, 59, replaces Rev. Elizabeth Orens, who retired this summer after five years as rector.
"Churches need time to grieve and heal after a rector leaves," said Hinkle, who came to Parkton from the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration in Frederick. "It takes prayer, time and discernment. But with the 100th anniversary coming up, this is also an exciting time at this little powerhouse of a church."
Hinkle said about 75 people — a mix of both young and older members — attend the traditional Episcopal Sunday services. He has added a healing service on the first Sunday of each month.
He has a background in holistic health and Gestalt therapy, and said the healing service, during which he lays his hands on anyone who wishes, has been very well received.
"We liked the fact that he's got a lot of experience and isn't just out of seminary school," said Steve Fox, who served on the search committee. "His values match well with ours: traditional Episcopalian values. He's very organized and already there's been increased communication."
Hinkle said he knew since age 10 that he wanted to become an Episcopalian priest. He majored in philosophy and music at the College of New Jersey, and then graduated from the School of Theology at the University of the South in Tennessee in 1981.
Hinkle and his wife, Barbara Peirce, a hospice nurse, live in Atglen, Pa., surrounded by Amish farms. His 50-mile commute to Parkton has been interrupted several times by wild turkeys that refuse to get out of the road, he said.
The 100th anniversary celebrations will kick off with a Twelfth Night Feast on Jan. 6 at the church hall, said Dottie Arthur, who is chairing the anniversary committee. The dinner, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., is open to the public, but reservations are requested.
Arthur said the church will also hold special services using a 1913 prayer book and singing hymns popular when the church was founded.
St. James' Episcopal Church will enter a float in the Hereford Parade in July with parishioners dressed in period costumes depicting the past 100 years. A formal luncheon will be held in October.
"Our motto for our 100th is 'Witness Our Spirit, Honor Our History'," she said. "We are encouraging everybody to participate in our celebrations."
To learn more about the church or its 100th anniversary, or to reserve a spot at the Jan. 6 dinner, go to http://www.stjamesparkton.org or call the church at 410-357-4473.