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Reconsecration planned for church damaged by fire"We've...


Reconsecration planned for church damaged by fire

"We've got a long-distance race ahead of us," the Rev. Michael B. Curry, rector of St. James Episcopal Church on Lafayette Square, told his dispirited parishioners July 4, 1993.

Two weeks earlier, lightning had struck their West Baltimore landmark, setting a fire that destroyed much of it.

But the race has been successfully run. At a festive Eucharist service in the restored Gothic Revival church at 11 a.m. Sunday, repairs and improvements costing more than $1 million -- covered by insurance -- will be celebrated.

Bishop Charles L. Longest will preside at the building's reconsecration and will perform confirmations. Father Curry will preach.

On the day of reckoning almost two years ago, the rector said, "We don't know how long we will be out of our beloved church. It may be a year, it may be a year and a half. . .. We will take our time, learn from our architects. We are not in a hurry. Stone by stone, brick by brick, we'll do it right."

The Rev. Ronald Miller, a member of the St. James staff preparing for Sunday's celebration, says that is what happened. A new rose window has replaced the destroyed one in the church's west front.

Panels of dingy but otherwise undamaged stained glass have been cleaned, and they glisten in the sun.

Old paneling, timber arches and massive beams and trusses have been restored. There is a new roof, a new table altar, a new choir behind the altar.

"We have made significant improvements," Father Miller said. The restoration is about 90 percent completed, he said.

The congregation was established in 1824 as St. James' First African Protestant Episcopal Church. With nearly 800 members currently, it is a strong parish of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland and growing, Father Miller said.

The public is invited to the reconsecration service and to a reception afterward. Information: 523-4588.

Papal visit

Cardinal William H. Keeler has put out a call for volunteers to assist with plans for Pope John Paul II's Oct. 8 visit to Baltimore. The pope will preside at an outdoor Sunday Mass in the Camden Yards stadium in the morning and then ride in a parade through downtown. He will also take part in an evening prayer service at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen.

Cardinal Keeler announced that Paul Coco of Catonsville will coordinate volunteers for the papal events.

"We are welcoming people of all faiths and professional backgrounds to help us get the pope's visit together," Mr. Coco said.

Drivers with vehicles, secretarial and clerical workers, receptionists and people experienced with computers are needed, he said. "This work will be great fun for retirees, college and graduate students, teachers on summer break, professionals on sabbatical and adults with some vacation time to allocate to a good cause," Mr. Coco said.

Cardinal Keeler said, "There is a tremendous amount of work to be done over the next four months, and we need volunteers to help out."

The Rev. Michael White is program director of the pope's Baltimore visit. Information: 547-5379.

Men's roles

Epworth United Methodist Church at Liberty Road and St. Luke's Lane in Woodlawn will focus on men's participation in the life of the congregation in a series of public events next week.

As part of an annual celebration by United Methodist Men of Epworth, the Rev. Horace Wallace will lead a study of the Bible beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday. At a prayer breakfast at 9 a.m. June 17, the Rev. Frederick T. Lincoln will be the guest speaker.

Baltimore businessman Harlow Fullwood Jr., president of Fullwood Foods, will speak at the Men's Day worship service at 10:30 a.m. June 18. Information: 944-1070.

Jewish women

Regional leaders of Na'Amat, a worldwide Jewish organization working to improve the status of women and children in Israel, will meet from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday at the group's Baltimore offices, 3809 Clarks Lane.

Members of the women's volunteer organization from Washington and Philadelphia as well as Baltimore will participate. Civil rights and separation of church and state in the United States are also on the agenda. Information: 358-3337.

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