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Kevin Dayhoff: Historic Houses of Worship Tour returns to Westminster

Houses of worship have played an important role throughout Carroll County’s history. With that in mind, the Historical Society of Carroll County and the Shepherd’s Staff are partnering to bring back to Westminster the Historic Houses of Worship Tour. The tour takes place Saturday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The early settlers of Carroll County were initially attracted by the relative ease of obtaining land and the religious freedoms that were afforded Marylanders. Many of the earliest Carroll Countians counted among their prized possessions a “Bible, a hymnal and prayer book,” according to “Carroll County, Maryland: A History: 1837-1976,″ by Nancy Warner. Quaker (Society of Friends,) Brethren, Catholic, Lutheran and Methodist congregations were all established in Carroll County before 1770.

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To the best of my knowledge, the last tour took place on Dec. 30, 2006. In an article I wrote about the event for The Baltimore Sun on Dec. 6, 2006, the tour that year was referred to as the “2nd annual House of Worship Tour.”

In 2006, Shepherd’s Staff, the Community Foundation of Carroll County and the Tourism Council joined forces to coordinate the tour. 2005 was the first year for the tour and by all measures the tours that year and in 2006 were a great success.

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Holiday Historic House of Worship tour scheduled for Carroll County - The tour includes Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church. 21 Carroll Street, Westminster
Holiday Historic House of Worship tour scheduled for Carroll County - The tour includes Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church. 21 Carroll Street, Westminster (Courtesy Photo)

Each house of worship has its own story to tell and its own place in Carroll County, and in some instances, our nation’s history. By way of full disclosure, my wife, Caroline Babylon, and I will help host at our home church, Grace Lutheran Church, 21 Carroll St., in Westminster. We are looking forward to it, but regret that we will not be able to tour the other churches.

There will be something for everyone on the tour, whether you are a child or an adult, love Christmas decorations, or are just interested in history. Don’t worry if you are a “tourist” inside a church. You are more than welcome. After all, remember, even Moses started out as a basket case, as author J.J. Jasper reminds us.

An article in the county historical society’s publication, The Carroll Courier, this fall reports: “We plan to showcase a dozen historic churches to the community with this holiday event. Churches will be ready for the season in their own style and traditions. The churches will open their doors and welcome in visitors from near and far to see historic architecture, holiday decorations, and hear a little about their faith.

“This year we will focus on the northern tier of the county with churches in Taneytown, Silver Run, and Westminster. This should be a festive way of taking that long curious look at tradition and workmanship. We have a nice mix of churches well-known and off the beaten path.”

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Holiday Historic House of Worship tour scheduled for Carroll County - The tour includes St. Mary’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 3978 Littlestown Pike, Westminster
Holiday Historic House of Worship tour scheduled for Carroll County - The tour includes St. Mary’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 3978 Littlestown Pike, Westminster (Courtesy Photo)

The tour includes Westminster United Methodist Church, 165 E. Main St.; Benjamin-Krider’s United Church of Christ, 208 Kriders Church Road, Westminster; Church of the Ascension Episcopal, 23 N. Court St., Westminster; Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, 21 Carroll St., Westminster; Jerusalem Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1372 Bachman’s Valley Road, Westminster; Meadow Branch Church of the Brethren, 818 Old Taneytown Road, Westminster; St. Benjamin’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 700 Krider’s Cemetery Road, Westminster; St. Mary’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 3978 Littlestown Pike, Westminster; St. Mary’s United Church of Christ, 1441 Mayberry Road, Westminster; St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, 17 Bond St., Westminster; Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, 38 W. Baltimore St., Taneytown; and Westminster Church of the Brethren, 1 Park Ave., Westminster.

According to the historical society publication, “The church doors will open at 3 p.m. and people will drive individually to the church of their choice to begin the tour. There will be no required tour route in order to avoid bunching of groups.

Holiday Historic House of Worship tour scheduled for Carroll County - The tour includes Church of the Ascension Episcopal, 23 N. Court Street, Westminster
Holiday Historic House of Worship tour scheduled for Carroll County - The tour includes Church of the Ascension Episcopal, 23 N. Court Street, Westminster (Courtesy Photo)

“A church representative will be available to welcome visitors, check their tickets, and discuss the history and faith of the host congregation. Some churches might offer very simple refreshments like Christmas cookies and warm cider. No prescribed times are needed as visitors can come and leave from the buildings freely. Each visitor will have a guide booklet with the basic history of the church, a photo, and essential information about location.”

The event is a fun event for the whole family as it celebrates one of the many reasons we have to rejoice in our Carroll County heritage, quality of life and history.

The ticket price for this fundraiser begins at $15. Tickets can be purchased on the historical society’s website at www.hsccmd.org/event/hhowt or at the historical society office, 210 E. Main St., Westminster.

The evening culminates with a concert at the Westminster United Methodist Church, 165 E. Main St., starting at 7:30 p.m. and featuring Leaves the 99. A free will offering will be taken.

This is a rain or shine event so tickets are nonrefundable and should simply be seen as a wonderful way to support the historical society and Shepherd’s Staff. Tickets will not be available for purchase at the churches, but the historical society and its gift shop on East Main Street will be open during the tour for late ticket purchases or other gifts

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