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St. Paul's United Methodist Church.
St. Paul's United Methodist Church. (Kim Hairston / XX)

It isn’t every day a major movie star like Julia Roberts rolls into Carroll County. But, two decades ago, she showed up in New Windsor for a wedding. Sort of.

On Saturday, members of the community celebrated the 20th anniversary of the release of the Roberts-Richard Gere romantic comedy “Runaway Bride,” part of which was filmed at St. Paul United Methodist Church in New Windsor.

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“A couple of scenes from ‘Runaway Bride’ were filmed in the church in 1998,″ New Windsor Mayor Neal Roop said via email. "St. Paul United Methodist Church sponsored this as part of the 175th anniversary of the incorporation of the town.”

To commemorate the occasion, the church offered a light meal of turkey soup, salad and beverages and hosted a screening of the movie. The meal was provided by St. Paul United Methodist Church Women’s Circle.

Berlin, Maryland is more well-known as the site where “Runaway Bride” was shot and continues to use that fact in promotional material. But, for a few days, New Windsor hosted Roberts, perhaps Hollywood’s biggest star at the time.

The film reunited Roberts and Gere, who had previously starred in the box office smash “Pretty Woman.”

“Runaway Bride” is the story of Maggie Carpenter, played by Roberts, who repeatedly leaves men at the altar, and a reporter named Homer “Ike” Eisenhower Graham, played by Gere. His character calls her the Runaway Bride in an article, but his story has multiple factual errors. So, as the bride gets ready to walk down the aisle again, he chases the story to redeem his name, certain the bride will run again.

It wasn’t the critical or box office success of the first Roberts and Gere collaboration, but it did wind up grossing more than $300 million worldwide.

According to Roop, some 50 people turned out Saturday to celebrate the anniversary of the film, enjoy the food and take in a screening that began at 7 p.m. The church also welcomed donations for the New Windsor Food Bank from all attendees.

The filming of the movie holds historical significance to the town of New Windsor, Roop said.

“It meant that St. Paul United Methodist Church and some members of the congregation were in a major feature film. In addition, people came from far away in hopes of seeing Julia Roberts," said Roop in an email. "There was a large crowd outside the church all day.”

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