Outside, a light mist fell. The scent of bratwurst and sauerkraut rose from beneath a lawn tent behind the church. Inside the fellowship hall, the joyous sounds of German folk music pronounced that the weather would not dampen the spirit of Dorsey Emmanuel United Methodist Church's 150th anniversary celebration.
The German emphasis was far from coincidental. Founded in 1850 by German immigrants, Dorsey Emmanuel United Methodist Church conducted services exclusively in German for its first 30 years. The original church building was off U.S. 1 near present-day Amberton Drive.
The church on Dorsey Road in Elkridge opened in 1893. Just weeks after the opening of the new building, the old structure was destroyed by fire, and much of the documentation of the church's early history was lost. But that history, and an awareness of shared origins, remains an important part of the Dorsey Emmanuel community.
"About 85 percent to 90 percent of our parishioners are descendants of 19th-century church members," said Cindy Kerr, one of the event's organizers.
Although a strong connection to the past has helped maintain a close-knit church community, the average age of Dorsey Emmanuel parishioners has increased in recent years. Kerr and others active in the church recognize that new parishioners are an important part of maintaining the vibrancy of Dorsey Emmanuel. With this in mind, the church has emphasized programs for children.
"Kids today need positive influences, and we have particularly strong youth programs," Kerr said.
Beyond celebrating the anniversary of the church, the events on May 20 and 21 were designed as a way to attract new members and return former members to the fold.
The highlight of activities May 20 was the performance of GTV Immergrun, a German folk dance group. The dancers wore clothing based on attire worn by a Munich-based group.
Group leader Michael Gelmanprovided a brief history before each dance. The activity concluded with a circle dance in which the audience was invited to participate. Many in the audience were dressed in 19th-century-style clothing.
While it remains to be seen if the event will have the desired effect on church membership, those in attendance enjoyed celebrating the anniversary of the Dorsey Emmanuel United Methodist Church. On Sunday, Dorsey Emmanuel will hold a performance of the Hallelujah Choir at 4 p.m. The Hallelujah Choir is an interfaith group composed of members of several churches in Howard County.
Last week, children at Burleigh Manor Middle School completed a yearlong project to promote reading among kindergartners in Howard County.
The project concluded with the distribution of more than 100 book and tape packages to kindergartners at Dasher Green and Running Brook elementary schools in Columbia.
The schoolchildren involved in the service learning project are sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders enrolled in Burleigh Academic Student Enrichment (BASE) courses.
The children participated in all stages of the project, from selecting and designing the book and tape project to writing a final essay describing their involvement.
The project began as a conventional book drive. However, recognizing that hearing stories read is an important part of learning to read, the pupils added the book-on-tape component.
"The students felt it was important that every child have the chance to hear the stories read to them," said Cheryl Dzubak, who teaches the eighth-grade BASE course at Burleigh Manor.
Each pupil selected a book, designed a cover for the book and tape package, and recorded a reading of the story, including a student-written introduction. The recordings required a lot of effort because few students were able to make a suitable recording in a single take.
"It has been an invaluable experience for this group to see a complicated project through from beginning to end," said Dzubak.
In addition to Dzubak, BASE teachers Audrey Brossand Will Schrenkprovided guidance to the pupils in completing the project.
Mount Hebron band
For the Mount Hebron High School marching band, 1999-2000 was a year filled with both disappointment and accomplishment.
The disappointments included the Hurricane Floyd-related cancellation of an appearance in the Miss America Pageant Parade in Atlantic City, N.J., and being removed at the last minute from CBS's Millennium Celebration program.
Countering the disappointments was the band's outstanding performance this spring at the All-American Music Festival in Orlando, Fla.
Mount Hebron won first place in seven of the eight categories the band entered, including Best Marching Unit and Best Overall Parade Performance.