Messiah Lutheran Church, in Berrett, proudly flies the American flag in its sanctuary. On July 8, that flag will be replaced with a new one with very special meaning.
On May 13, 1st Lt. Michael E. Bell of the U.S. Marine Corps had a flag flown over Camp Delaram II in Nimroz Province, Afghanistan, during his deployment in Operation Enduring Freedom. The date marked the second birthday of his daughter Macie.
That flag was flown in honor of Messiah Lutheran Church. It was one of five flags that Bell purchased and had flown during his deployment to honor members of his family and the church.
Bell was raised in Carroll County, living in Union Bridge and Winfield as a youth. He said, "I graduated from South Carroll in 2000 on a Saturday. I went to boot camp on Sunday. I was at Parris Island [for boot camp] for 13 weeks."
Bell got an administrative assignment after boot camp. After nine years in the Marine Corps, he attended and graduated from Officer Candidates School.
Linda Smith, Bell's mother-in-law, said her family had been going to Messiah Lutheran Church for more than 30 years. Michael Bell started attending church with her daughter Amy and the couple was married in the church.
Messiah Lutheran has remained the home church for the family. Both daughters, 4-year-old Myla and 2-year-old Macie, were baptized there.
The family is now planning another baptism. Branson, their first son, was born on June 5, just before his father returned from his deployment in Afghanistan.
Michael Bell described watching the delivery on Skype. One of Amy's friends held her cellphone over the just-delivered baby, so Michael could give the news to Amy: "It's a boy!"
The Bells are currently living on the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Va., where Michael is stationed. This allows for frequent trips to have their children visit with their grandparents in Carroll County.
Michael Bell and his family will attend the 9 a.m. worship service July 8 at Messiah Lutheran Church for the U.S. Flag Dedication Ceremony. Military veterans will lead the dedication. Boy Scouts from Troop 733 at the Winfield Fire Hall will help the veterans retire the current flag, and the Scouts will install the new flag.
Everyone is welcome to join the church in observing this celebration. Refreshments will follow the worship service.
Whether attending the service or not, we can all give thanks that one of our Carroll County heroes has returned home safely.
For more information, you can call the church office at 410-795-9174 or visit http://www.melchurch.org.
Messiah Lutheran Church is at 5600 Old Washington Road.