Lazarus Church pastor to be ordained on anniversary of fire

Sam Chamelin, pastor of Lazarus Church in Lineboro, is to be ordained Saturday, Dec. 6.

For the past year, Sam Chamelin, pastor of the Lazarus Church in Lineboro, has worked triple duty tending to his congregation, attending seminary to complete his ordination and working to restore the church after the building was destroyed in a devastating fire last year.

This week marks both the one-year anniversary of the fire, which caused more than $1 million in damages to the original Lazarus church building, as well as Chamelin's completion of seminary, an event that will be celebrated with an ordination Saturday, Dec. 6, at St. Bartholomew's Church in Manchester.


Chamelin was originally voted in as Lazarus' official pastor in December 2008, despite still requiring six years of seminary before graduating. At the time, Chamelin was the youngest pastor to ever preach at the church.

When the fire struck Dec. 3, 2013, and razed the building, Chamelin still had a year left of seminary to complete. He said splitting his attention while studying at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg, Pa., actually aided in the healing process for him.


"It was a way to clear my head a little bit," Chamelin said. "I was able to read books that had nothing to do with fire or destruction or that sort of thing. It provided a bit of a safe haven."

He said church officials have started the process of rebuilding by working with a local architect to discuss the regulations of what can be built in the footprint of the former church.

"The other thing we have to discuss is what our congregation will need, which is a much larger conversation," Chamelin said. "We have to figure out what the church is going to be in the next generation, not what we are now."

Chamelin said the process of rebuilding usually takes between three to four years, and he feels they are currently ahead of schedule. For the past year, the congregation has met at the Lineboro fire hall.

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Chamelin said when the time came for his ordination service, they considered holding the event there, but as the size and scope of the service grew, they realized they would have to find a larger space to worship in.

Aid came from the Rev. Michael Roach, a pastor at St. Bartholomew's Church in Manchester. Roach said he had known Chamelin for years, and when he heard about the ordination, he knew he had to help in any way he could.

"For many years, we used to celebrate in a small Civil War church, so on Christmas Eve, we had to hold our services in other locations," Roach said. "We used to be recipients of hospitality. It's the only Christian thing to do."

The ordination service will be similar to the typical Sunday worship service, according to Chamelin. Near the end, Chamelin will undergo a questioning and a swearing of oaths, before the laying of hands signifying the transference of the Holy Spirit. Chamelin said his first act as an ordained pastor will be to administer the Eucharist to the attending congregation, consisting of church members as well as fellow students from the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg.


Chamelin said he was thankful for the aid of Roach and was blessed that his ordination would take place in Manchester, his hometown.

"On one hand, it kind of feels like a wedding. There's a church service followed by a reception. I know something wonderful is going to happen, but I don't know what it is," Chamelin said. "The only way to know how it feels to be ordained is to be ordained. It's almost the feeling of Christmas Eve. I'm excited to find out what it's going to be like and embrace the unknowing."

Reach staff writer Jacob deNobel at 410-857-7890 or