FIRE AND SMOKE damage had forced the closure of Church of the Nazarene at 351 Liberty Road in Eldersburg more than a year ago, in April 1999.
The fire was attributed to a candle burning in the empty sanctuary. The fire had damaged only the sanctuary, but smoke and water damaged the entire structure.
About 40 parishioners gathered the next Sunday morning in the basement of their pastor's parsonage for services.
Pastor Joe Ward told members of the congregation that their faith would be necessary in that time of adversity. The congregation chose to have the faith necessary to rebuild.
Damage was estimated about $40,000, Ward said, an amount short of the $65,000 needed to rebuild.
The difference was made up by members' pledges and by donations from area churches. The figure doesn't reflect the time invested by many volunteers in the rebuilding effort.
Ward supervised the work, which was overseen by Mike Geiger, owner of a contracting company.
Geiger used his employees, and members of his congregation at Faith Lutheran Church in Eldersburg, to rebuild the church. Geiger, with members of an organization he heads, Carroll County Christian Work Camp, volunteered his time and finished the outside of the church.
Other surrounding churches did their part. In addition to donations, the congregation needed a place to hold services.
Space was provided by Wesley Freedom Methodist Church for a short time, but for eight months, services were held at Messiah Lutheran Church on Route 97 in Berrett in its newly built Fellowship Hall.
"I'm not sure why they let us use the new building instead of their older one," Ward said of Messiah Lutheran Church, "but we were very glad and thankful to have the space."
Nancy Urban, president of the church council for Messiah, said both churches helped each other. Ward filled in during services when Messiah needed a pastor, and the two congregations sometimes held joint services, Urban said.
Urban said she missed the Nazarene congregation. The dedication service for the rebuilt church was held July 9.
"We've always been very lucky," Ann Ward, the pastor's wife, said. "God has always provided for us. You just need to have faith."
A large poster board at the entrance to the newly renovated church tells the history of the church, including the fire and the rebuilding. The church has existed at the South Carroll location since February 1975. Vacation Bible School will be offered. Sunday school is at 9:45 a.m., and Sunday worship is at 11 a.m.
New school principal
Liberty High School on Bartholow Road in Eldersburg will start the school year with a new principal and assistant principal.
Ron Laczkowski, new principal of Liberty, has a strong Carroll County background. He was at North Carroll High, where he spent the past two years as assistant principal under the tutelage of Gary Dunkleberger.
Previously, Laczkowski spent 19 years at Westminster High, 12 years teaching English and seven as assistant principal. He credits Ed Davis, a former director of pupil services, for steering him to becoming an administrator. Laczkowski lives with his wife, Sherry, and two sons in Westminster. Matt, 22, is a graduate of North Carolina, where he played basketball, and Scott is a junior at Westminster High.
Liberty's new assistant principal is Gina Massella. She joins Liberty from Overlea High School in Baltimore County, where she taught social studies for the past 16 years before being promoted to assistant principal.
Massella lives in Howard County.
Summer 2000 Concerts in the Park will be held every Friday night through Aug. 18 at Millard Cooper Park off Route 32 in Sykesville.
From 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, performers will be the Cheese Police and Wake. Refreshments will be available. Parking is at Sykesville Middle School. No alcohol is permitted in the park.
Sykesville is sponsoring the Fall Sykesville Adult Co-ed Softball League, which will begin Aug. 20 and run through Oct. 22. This is a league for players of all skill levels. Cost is $20.
Help for the homeless
St. Joseph Roman Catholic Community on Liberty Road in Eldersburg is accepting usable clothing to be donated to the homeless. Donations should be placed in plastic bags and tied securely.
Donations are tax deductible and will be accepted before and after Masses on Saturday and Sunday.
Debra Taylor-Young's Southeast neighborhood column appears each Tuesday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.