What St. Paul's Means to me

As part of our 150th celebration during the pandemic in 2019-2020, the congregation of St. Paul's was asked to share what St. Paul's means to them and their family as part of their daily lives and or to share favorite memories of St. Paul's. Gathered here below are some of the responses received.

Cathy & Joe Dymek Wedding Reception

Cathy and Joe as they walk out of church after their wedding almost 40 years ago from September 2020

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What St. Paul's Means to me.

When I first signed up to write something about what St. Paul’s means to me, I thought it would be easy with so much family history. I even selected the month of August because my father, Benjamin Kline Bassler, had family members that have been here for many generations and his birthday was August 31st. His paternal great grandparents, Christian and Barbara Roeder Bassler as well as George and Katherine Kraft Dieker were members and buried at St. Paul’s. Their children, John Gustave Bassler and Dora Dieker married and went on to have 10 children. One of those was my grandfather Benjamin Frederick Bassler. My grandfather married Gertrude Alice Kline whose family linked us to the Orndorffs and Maucks through marriage. Even with all of this genealogical history making me a 5th generation member of St. Paul’s, I came to realize that my feelings towards the church were not static but have evolved over time.

As a child, we went to church at St. Paul’s because the Bassler family always did. I was baptized, confirmed and married in the church and our children were baptized at St. Paul’s. There was never a question as to why you went to church. A large portion of your life was contained with the church walls – family, friends and faith. I remember going to Sunday School every Sunday and I can still remember most of the teachers I had including Aunt Ethel Miles, Mrs. Blitz, Elaine Bentz, Helen Thompson, Eldon Hart and my mom. We sang songs like Jesus Loves Me, Zaccheus was a Wee Little Man, There were 12 Disciples and Hear the Pennies Dropping. This was a time in the church when girls did not acolyte and children did not participate in monthly communion until confirmed.

Our class confirmation was in June on Pentecost as it had always been. I still remember being so pleased that my maternal grandmother, a non-church-goer, came to church for my confirmation. In high school, you could participate in Luther League which was our youth group. It was so nice to have those friends and we were always doing something fun. I, along with others my age, began singing in the choir at age 14 and I continued to sing in the choir for over 25 years. It was what many of us did since our parents sang in the choir as well. I spent many years sitting between Marian Whitfield and Charlotte Selby with Nancy Gaither and my Mom completing the best row of altos anyone could ask for. We laughed and talked and even did some singing as well. My dad and his beautiful bass voice actually sang for 50 years.

This year marks 40 years ago that Joe and I were married at St. Paul’s by Pastor Skarsten. Some of you will remember him and his family as fondly as we do. In 1980, St. Paul’s did not have air conditioning and we picked a wonderful June day that turned out to be 98 degrees. At that time, we still used the beautiful red front doors and the stone terrace in front of them. The church still had the large red dossal cloth, an altar facing the wall and a communion rail in the chancel. It was beautiful and it was filled with people that cared about us.

When our children were baptized at St. Paul’s, it seemed like the normal progression of life. Our children always went to Sunday School and then Joe would sit in the back pew with the kids during church as I continued to sing in the choir. For 9 years, I actually directed the choir, filling a need “until they found someone.” Music was such a large and important part of my religious experience.

But, like with so many people, things happen in church and in life, and there are changes. While we left St. Paul’s for a few years and attended First Lutheran in Ellicott City, St. Paul’s was really still “home”. When we returned, it seemed natural. And while new people had come and others had gone, there was comfort in those we knew and frankly, comfort in this building and all that had taken place here.

Even with the passage of time, this place is still very comfortable. Now, it is a place to serve others and a place to continue to grow in faith. For several years, I had wanted to begin a ministry serving the older population of the church. When Joe retired, we made that a reality with the creation of Senior Fellowship. Initially, our ministry was to be one of fun and fellowship. However, it has developed into a ministry of caring, service and love.

It is now apparent to me that St. Paul’s has gone from being a weekly childhood requirement to a place of service and a place of faith. It has gone from an old building to a place filled with God and his people. I am truly blessed.

Cathy Dymek

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Cathy and Joe Dymek's Wedding

Almost 40 years from September 2020

My St. Paul Story

When I was a little girl, going to kindergarten was optional. So, I didn‘t go. I think it’s because mom prayed so long to have a little girl she wanted me with her as long she could before I had to go off to school.

Anyway, Mom (Lillian Kerwin) would go up to church on Friday mornings to practice the organ for Sunday’s services. And she had to take me with her.

I would bring a coloring book and some toys but soon got tired of them. Sliding on the floor under the pews in the church was much more fun. Mom would yell from the organ “Where are you?” and I would pop up between the pews and say “Here I am.”

Mom loved the pipe organ and especially playing the hymns. She started playing in church when she was 18 years old and continued for over 50 years. Only stopping for a few years to have 3 children.

It wasn’t just the music of the hymns, but also the words that meant so much to her. She didn’t just play the notes on the page but the meaning of those words. She played with feeling. And this has been such a big part of my life growing up. Listening to her play.

Many years later handbells entered in my church life.

One day (circa 1985) I was asked by the chairman of the worship and music committee if I wanted to be handbell director.

Eiizabeth Iager was donating a set of handbells in memory of her husband, Ellsworth Iager and they were looking for someone to start and direct a handbell choir. “You sing in the choir. You know music. Would you like to?”  “Ahhhh…okay, I guess?” I think I replied.

I had never seen, heard, held or rang a handbell. When they arrived Vicar Jeff Bishoff showed me how to hold one and ring it. I was hooked. I went to festivals & workshops and stayed just one step ahead of the bell choir. I dare say the love of hymns that my mom had is probably why today most of the music the Lutheran Bells play is related to hymns.


Betty Kerwin

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April Temple Talk

Bret Hassel 4/26/20 The Role of St.Paul’s in my spiritual journey


First some background: my early childhood exposure to church was in a Presbyterian congregation. My attendance declined sharply in my early teens when my father’s belief that ‘God is perfectly fine with us spending our Sundays on a tennis court’ took hold. Thus, actual commandments, such as ‘honor thy father’, became mixed with secular adaptations such as ‘thou shalt not commit a double fault’. While I was never able to find that particular commandment in any version of the bible to date, I have found that the integration of spiritual and secular aspects of one’s life is a healthy approach to strengthen the whole. St.Pauls has facilitated this interface through important milestones in my faith journey and I will describe a few of those now.


Fast forward to graduate school where I met my wife Judy, a lifelong Lutheran, and our plans for marriage. Since John McEnroe was not known to perform nuptuals, we began searching for a Lutheran church home for our wedding. In an impactful twist of fate, our first visit to St. Paul’s in July of 1989 was also Pastor Rod’s first Sunday as the new pastor. Judy and I were immediately taken with St. Paul’s church and with Rod’s engaging demeanor. We began the membership process and Rod performed our wedding ceremony later that year. A second event that occurred on our first visit to St. Paul’s was meeting Frank Bentz Jr., whose family had a long history at St. Paul’s and who would ultimately have a major influence on my life - more on this later.


Fast forward again: after our careers took us to Ohio for four years, we returned to St. Paul’s in 1995. With one-year-old Neal to show for our time in the Buckeye state, our first visit back to St. Paul’s revealed a newly renovated parish hall and AC! We were particularly excited to learn that families from our new members’ class had been ‘productive’ in our absence and had children that were Neal’s age. Keen to share experiences and learn from other first-time parents, we started the Active Christian Parenting study group that was fondly known as the ‘Back Pew Club’. This name referred to our preferred seating location that allowed us to quickly exit when the little ones were acting up and discretely return when they had regained composure. Ever wonder why those back pew seat cushions are covered in vinyl instead of fabric? I will leave the rest to your imagination. This group of young families sponsored many St. Paul’s activities including Easter-egg hunts and softball teams; indeed, the parents, and many of the children, have remained close friends over the years.


Now I will return to the topic of Frank Bentz. Frank was among the first St. Paul’s parishioners to introduce himself on our first day at the church, he and his wife Elaine invited us to dinner and served as our new member sponsors but most importantly, Frank was a fly fisherman. Frank’s father was one of four founders of an internationally renowned fly fishing organization known as the Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock. The Jungle Cock refers to the Asian pheasant and its feathers are prized for fly tying (as opposed to other possible interpretations of that name). Based in Thurmont MD, each spring the BOJC teaches over 200 boys about conservation, fly fishing and respect for our environment in a program that spans six years. With Franks support, the BOJC has been an important part of my life for the past 25 years. Graduates of the program, including our son Neal, are eligible for scholarships and return to camp as instructors to live out the BOJC creed and pass on the inherently Christian values of the program to the next generations of anglers.


The last example of an intersection between my spiritual and secular lives came in the context of my work. At a particularly critical juncture in my days as an early stage faculty, I first prayed and then bargained for a work-related outcome, promising that I would make a significant service commitment to St. Paul’s if said outcome materialized. As always, God came through so I kept my end of the bargain by serving multiple terms as Social Outreach Ministry leader on church council. But apparently God had more in mind than service on council as the end of my time on council coincided exactly with a series of opportunities at work that would transform my professional responsibilities from pure research to education, training and community outreach. Since that time, I have had the privilege of helping to develop a STEM education pipeline that begins with middle school students from disadvantaged West Baltimore neighborhoods and continues through undergraduate studies and professional school. This program, known as UMB CURE, is now a model for other programs around the country.

In closing, I want to remind you of the first 150th anniversary temple talk by John Murphy in which he eloquently described his youth at St. Paul’s in a time when the church was a central component of the community and a unifying element in the lives of its parishioners. While we no longer live just a short walk from church and our lives have grown increasingly complex since that time, I believe that the church can still play an integral role in our lives today. I hope that the examples from my life have provided evidence of the good that can come from listening to God and working towards this balance. I am grateful for the role St. Paul’s has played in my faith journey.


Bret Hassel


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My Memories of St. Paul's

St. Paul’s has always been the hub of family life for my family and the community. My earliest memories of attending St. Paul’s were as a child. It was a special treat to spend the night with Grand Pap, Grandma Miles and Aunt B. (Ed & Ethel and Bertha Bassler). We would have “hot cakes”, and King thick maple syrup made by Pap-Pap. Then we would go to St. Paul’s for Sunday School. I remember those Bible Comics which are fun to read.

Then it would be time to attend service in the same pew we still set today. I remember being in awe of the Gethsemane window. (A gift to St. Paul’s by the Sunday School around a $100 of noisy offerings. No gift is every too small to make a difference.) Not to mention the peal of the bell calling all to worship.

Later, I would learn that the present stone building was not the first on the grounds. My grand father Miles’ grandfather Martin Iager was one of the builders of St. Paul’s. He used a draw knife to shape the cedar shingles for the roof.  (This building would become a Real Estate building in Savage, MD which I believe still stands today.)

St. Paul’s is such a central part of family life, so much so, that My Grandmother (a life-long member) missed no more than two Sunday’s for 36 years and taught Sunday school. You may have noticed the pin that I wear on my lapel. My Aunt Bertha attended for Sunday School for 40 years. Not to mention, the honor of attending the Father and Son Banquet with my father and grandfather.

I am also privileged to have the lapel pin that was Grand Pap Miles wore for many years to St. Paul’s. He was originally Methodist and went to “Frog Pond Church”. (Liberty Grove United Methodist in Burtonsville) before he became Lutheran upon marrying my Grandmother Miles.

While not a founding family, so many of the extended family went to St. Paul’s and are buried in the cemetery. Such as, George and Katherine Dieker who immigrated from Germany and were among those first worshipers at St. Paul’s. Not to mention the many on the Bassler side of the extended family, Such as Christian Bassler. Who I am fortunate to have a copy of his Last Will and Testament. (He received a $100 and horse from his father.)

A very rich a full legacy of special memories and time-honored traditions of which St. Paul’s has been a part of our family. A circle of events which flow from month to month as the calendar rolls by season upon season.

What does St. Paul’s mean to me, “extended family and home”.

Kerry Griffin


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Granddad Griffn Train Engine

The engine is made from wood, screws, washers, handlebar of a bicycle (stack), bean can (boiler), bell (bell from bicycle) and the red can on front of the boiler is a typewriter ribbon can.

My Dad has had it for over sixty years. It was made by his grandfather Griffin. Most likely made eighty years ago when people’s trash included large vegetable cans.

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Granddad Griffin Train

Shown right: The entire train. Notice the tanker car (red and white can before the caboose). It is made from a tomato juice can. Its wonderful what you can do with a few odds and ends and a little imagination.

What a wonderful gift for my great grandfather’s grandsons many years ago!

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St. Paul's Christmas Tree

Imagine this as a cedar tree in our original wood church and each white light was a lighted candle.

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My Memories of St. Paul's

St Paul’s Lutheran Church has been a part of my life as long as I can remember. My Mom would take us to attend Sunday school, rain or shine and we would walk if not able to use the family car. My sister Joan and I were baptized  and confirmed in St Paul’s. I remember sitting in the pews with my Mom and sister and trying my best to not wiggle too much. As I grew up, I sang in the choir.

Before I was born, my Dad would go early to St Paul’s, before the congregation arrived and start to heat up the church for service, either coal stove or wood.

I used to love helping to serve meals at St Paul’s.

Pastor Burns married David and I in 1965. David and I attended bible study classes in our early years of marriage. We had two children, Heather and Ross and both were baptized, confirmed, attended Sunday School and grew up singing in the choir and playing bells.

St Paul’s Cemetery holds many of our relatives and family. Today, I am honored to be part of Altar Guild at St Paul’s.

Being part of St Paul’s Lutheran church has been a blessing and gift in my life. It has been a lifeline for me to stay connected spiritually as well as physically and

emotionally. Sharing prayer with people to provide support through highs and lows helps to maintain balance in my life.

What does St Paul’s mean to me? Home!                 


Carole J. Manges

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Menter Family

Top: Meg and Ted on their 66th Anniversary

Bottom: Grand Daughter Pastor Emily ordained the same day as Grandfather and Grandmother Menter's Anniversary

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Gerry & Betty Griffin

Pastor Menter officiating at Gerry & Betty Griffin's Wedding August 31,1958


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Elsie and Benny Bassler Wedding Photo

Elsie Mae and Benny Bassler’s Wedding taken at Clifton Park Baptist Church.

Left to Right, Rev. W. Millar (Clifton Park Baptist Church), Elsie Mae Bassler, Benny Bassler and Pastor Ted Menter (St. Paul’s, Fulton)

Let me know if any one else would like to share a wedding picture performed by Pastor Menter?

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150th Anniversary of St. Paul's

Memories of St. Paul's

This month I will be featuring memories from Sandy August.

I want to encourage everyone who is so moved to contact the church office st.paulfulon@gmail.com and send in their thoughts in whatever form, best suits you.

These stories will help pass our time of isolation with fond and special memories. 

My St. Paul Story

The year I joined St.Pauls, 1978,  was the same year that I became a mother so I thought today was an appropriate day for me to share. 

I was born Lutheran in Illinois and  I attended Lutheran Elementary School from kindergarten to Grade 8.  I would have gone to the Lutheran High School but it was too far away from my town.  But then I went on to attend Concordia Lutheran Teachers College in River Forest Illinois and became a Lutheran Elementary School teacher.  My first position was to a school on Long Island in NewYork.  After two years of teaching my contract was changed to a call and I was installed as a Teaching Minister at that church.  In addition to teaching,  my duties then included Nursing Home Ministry, Youth Ministry and assisting at Sunday morning services among other things.   

In the fall of 1976 I was set up on a blind date with the cousin of one of my student's parents, who was from Maryland.   The rest, as they say, is history and in August of 1978 I married my Maryland man who had two sons, and moved to Clarksville.  Instant mother.

While looking for a church home we visited Lutheran churches in Columbia, Olney and Ellicott City.  Then we came here.  The boys, who were in 3rd and 9th grade at the time, saw kids here that they knew from school ---so that was it.  We found the neighborhood church and would make it our church home.   

That was early December, and just after the holidays Pastor Skarsten called me and asked if he could come to our house for a visit.  At that visit he asked if I would be interested in taking the job as the church secretary.  I wasn't sure about that.  I was a teacher, not a secretary.  I wasn't a typist,  and didn't know how to use office machines.  He assured me that it was a pretty quiet non stressful office, and that he was a very non-stress kinda boss.  So I took the job for the mad money, and something to do four mornings a week.  I didn't have much to do and didn't know many people yet.  That meeting, that day, changed my life again.  

St. Pauls, our new church home, my new job, changed everything for me.  This was the first place that I was Sandy August, not Barry's new wife.  I met my own new friends here and really started my Maryland life here.  I very quickly got involved in one of the ladies Bible study groups and met Adeline Oehlke.  Her story was similar to mine, arriving here from Wisconsin to start a new marraige with Norm, and we became great friends.  She and Norm invited us to their Square  Dance club and we met another group of wonderful people who are our great friends and travel buddies to this day.   Some of you may remember Sue Wimsatt who attended here.  We became friends and she invited me to her County  Homemakers Group and those have become lasting friendships too. 

Some of you may remember that before the renovation, the church office was downstairs in the two rooms where the nursery is now.  Right across from it was a little room where the archives items were kept.  On quiet days in the office I would sometimes get the old registry books and read through them.  I found out so much about the history of our church there.  I read about all the founding families and started to get an understanding of who was related to who and how.  I read old lists of baptisms, confirmations, weddings and funerals. I looked at old bulletins and flyers on past events and activities.   Then I would stroll around the cemetery and try and put the families in order in my mind.  It was my education into the history of this church and in many ways my introduction to Howard County.   I felt even closer to St. Pauls and to so many of the people whose relatives created this church.  I met some of the old timers as they visited the office, like Dody Renn, George Walter, Ellsworth Iager,Irene Burns,- and Albert Iager, Frank and Elaine Bentz and so many others.  I heard their stories and learned so much about the church from them.


Since my love and education was teaching, I  soon got involved as a Sunday School teacher and ultimately I was on the Church Council as Christian Education Chair.  Through the years I directed the Sunday School,  led Vacation Bible School, produced Christmas Pageants, and created some chancel dramas for Youth Sundays and Christmas.  I felt fortunate to be able to use my education and experience to be part of the Christian Education program here.  Through with years I was involved with Mother Daughter banquets and youth activities and other special activities for the children and youth.  Barry and I were memeers of the 1st of the Month Couples Club and had lots of great times with that group too.

I left the job as church secretary just a week before my daughter was born in 1983 and then took some time to be a new mom yet again.   About the time she was old enough to sit in the congregation with other friends, I joined the choir, another lifelong passion.   I had been in choirs since I was a child and I was eager to return to that.   It was in the fall of  1990 which makes me the  longest serving current choir member, coming up on 30 years.  Talk about feeling old!  Since then I served on the Church Council as Worship and Music Chair twice.   In the last few years I tried my hand at the Bell Choir, and that too has been a wonderful experience. 

One Sunday from the choir seats, which were where the pastors and the acolytes sit now,  I was looking at a  banner that seemed  a little worn and thought that maybe it was time for a few new ones.  I spoke to Pastor Rod and June Pickett who prepared the banners, and began to make new banners for the front and the side walls.  In the past 25 plus years I've had the pleasure of creating about half of our current inventory of banners,  like the cross series for the side walls during Lent, the candles for Advent, the newest last year for Christmas, and the seasonal banners that hang up front.    

Through these past almost 42 years, St.Pauls church has centered me.  No matter what else was going on, I could always come here to services, choir rehearsals,  a meeting, an event and be part of this community.  My children shared experiences here in Sunday School, Confirmation and Youth Group and have created lasting friendships.  I'm fortunate to have my grandson Maddox here now to learn and sing with the other children.  For those who don't know him, he's the youngest of the acolytes and the guy who sits up on the top step and asks the pastors some great questions during the Childrens Sermon.  


Lutheran church is my roots, it was my education, and  it was my first and second real grown up job.  St. Pauls has fulfilled my need to be involved, to teach, to sing, to worship, to volunteer.  Our beautiful building, our reverent cemetery, our long and rich history, along with prayerful and exuberant worship here mean so much to me.  It has been my pleasure and blessing to be part of St. Pauls' story. 


Sandy August

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150th Anniversary of St. Paul's

Last year when Pastor Carolyn and Pastor Dave mentioned the 150th Anniversary to me, my thoughts went back to our 125th Anniversary.  It was during that Anniversary that my Grandmother shared with me our family’s deep connection to St. Paul’s.

In 1870 when St. Paul’s was formed there was a couple named Jacob and Catherine Hines that were part of the founding group.  Jacob and Catherine both grew up in Germany and had come to this country as young adults.  It was once they were here in America they met, married and started their family while Jacob worked as a farm hand.  Jacob and Catherine are my Great, Great, Great Grandparents. 

Jacob and Catherine had 7 children but only their 4th child and 2nd daughter remained a lifelong member of St. Paul’s.  Named after her mother, the younger Catherine married a German immigrant named Herman Wessel.  Herman like his in-laws was born in Germany and came to America as an adult.  Catherine and Herman were married in the old St. Paul’s Parsonage, that was out on 29, by Rev. Ide.   Herman’s two brothers     August and George would later come to this country and also settle in the Fulton area.  Herman and Catherine would purchase land and become successful farmers.  The farm they owned is today a large part of the Maple Lawn Community.  Catherine and Herman raised their family at St. Paul’s. 

Catherine and Herman’s 2nd son and 3rd child was named Edward.  Much like his ancestors much of his life revolved around St. Paul’s, he was baptized and confirmed here.  In 1914 he married Margaret Zeltman from Elkridge.  Edward and Margaret had 4 children, Melvin, Howard, Roland and my Grandmother Edna. 

My Grandmother could remember as a small child sitting in the original church during services.  As a small child she said that the adults would gather after church and many of the members especially the older ones would talk to each other in German.  Grandmother said this tradition continued until World War 2 when it became frowned upon to speak German in America.  Although Grandmother didn’t remember the discussion to build the new church, she could remember her Father and Brothers bringing horses up to the church to help dig out the foundation for the new structure.  Grandmother said that her mother would stay busy in the kitchen all morning and when she had lunch ready my Grandmother and her mother would meet the other women of the congregation to feed all of the boys and men who had been working on the foundation. 

Grandmother said that as cars became more common the cars were often saved for the adults and the older kids would still come in horse and buggy for Sunday School.  One of my Grandmother’s most vivid memories were when Congregational meetings were held.  For the days leading up to it my Grandmother said that her mother and Grandmother would stay busy in the kitchen baking.  Aunts, cousins and friends would stop by with some type of desserts also.  On the day of the meeting the men in the congregation would come by her family’s house so that the wife, daughters and young children could be dropped off while the men went on to the meeting.  My Grandmother said she always hated these meetings because she knew she and her cousin Mabel would have to serve coffee, tea and cakes to the ladies.  My Grandmother always said that she really wanted to know what was happening at the meetings but because women couldn’t vote in the congregation at that time they also couldn’t attend. 

When my Grandmother married my Grandfather, Willis Thompson, there was no way she was leaving her church and he switched from being a Methodist to join St. Paul’s.  As a young couple my Grandparents became active members of the church.  My Aunt, Uncle and Father were all baptized and confirmed here at St. Paul’s.  My Aunt was in the youth choir and my Uncle and Father served as acolytes.  My Grandfather was asked to serve on the church council and served the congregation as the financial secretary. 

He was on the council when the congregation added the parish hall on to the church.  When my Grandfather served as the financial secretary he and my Grandmother would wait around after services on Sunday to count the offering. 

At that point in time the Pastor would come and talk to my Grandparents and let them know who he was going to visit that week and who had not been in church for a while.  The Pastor would then ask my Grandparents with their three children to go and visit anyone who had not been in church for a while so that congregation could pay for the new addition.  My Grandmother also became more active in the church during this time.  She served as one of the chairs for the annual Turkey Dinners.  Grandmother would coordinate the cooking and serving of the meals.  She said the best they ever did was when they served over 1000 dinners in one night.  One of my Grandmother’s favorite ways she served here at St. Paul’s was as Sunday School Superintendent.  She always looked forward to Christmas time when she would put together a gift for every Sunday School child.  This gift was always an orange and some chocolates. 

When I was born the family tradition of being baptized at St. Paul’s continued.  While I don’t remember this event but for my earliest memory was being in the Sunday School class that Ms. Carolyn Frost, Ms. Elizabeth Auldridge and Ms. Lillian Kerwin taught.  It was Christmas time and these ladies taught our class of small children to sing Away In A Manger until we had it down and we performed it for our families.

When my Grandparents died like all of my Grandmother’s relatives since they came to America, they were buried in St. Paul’s Cemetery. 

One of the most important things for my grandparents was the connections they shared with other members of the congregation.  My Grandmother had many relatives here and over the years many of my Grandparents good friends were also members of this congregation.  In addition, there was a generation of young people my grandparents watched grow up and become active leaders in the congregation

As I have grown in this church going through Sunday School, confirmation, serving on the call committee, mutual ministry, LEAD, evangelism and early morning prayers I have hoped that I have been honoring my relatives who came before me while also hoping that what we are doing here will leave something special for future members.  It has been serving and attending these small committees and classes that I have learned the most about myself and have felt my own faith grow deeper.  These committees have also allowed me to get to know our Pastors better which has allowed me to pick their brain and learn more about the Bible and the Lutheran faith.  I feel extremely lucky that right now we have two pastors that are at a similar stage in life as me and can help guide me in these uncertain times.  I would encourage anyone who isn’t part of one of the small groups here to start attending as these experiences are an incredible opportunity. 

To me when I think of St. Paul’s I am reminded of the words that Southern Gospel lyrists Bill Gaither composed when he wrote,

This is the place where we pray, This is the place where we cry, This is the place where we start” ‘till death do us part.” Where we say, “Goodbye.”

Here we leave all our pain, find forgiveness and grace, here we walk down the aisle; dedicate every child, Here in this sacred place.”

Patrick Thompson


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What St. Paul's Means to me

SIGNS...they are everywhere! Telling us what to do, what not to do, how to do something, where to go, where not to go; advertisements urging us to buy this or that or vote for him or her. Some are small and difficult to see or read, others huge like billboards. I remember our son so carefully following the traffic and road signs when he was learning to drive. Yikes! There are also "signs" that tell us something is about to happen, such as a thunderstorm, political unrest, and in today's world, a viral pandemic. Yes, there were apparently many "signs" that a pandemic could easily invade our lives! And now, so many signs out there urging us to wear masks, social distance, wash our hands! Even signs on the floor in grocery stores telling us how far we should stand apart from each other in line!

There are many miraculous "signs" in the Bible, one of the most memorable being the Star of Bethlehem announcing the birth of Jesus Christ and leading the Magi to Him. There is the "Book of Signs" in the beginning of the Gospel of John which speaks of seven notable events or miracles performed by Jesus, such as the changing of water into wine at Cana, Jesus feeding the 5000, and Jesus walking on water.

God constantly sends us "signs" of his grace and love that leave us in awe and wonder!

I also remembered a song about signs. I could recall some of the lyrics and a bit of the tune, but had to look it up. It is actually called "Signs" and it was written by Les Emmerson, of the Five Man Electrical Band, a Canadian rock band from the early 1970's that I had never heard of. Anyway, the story goes that he was "road-tripping" on Route 66 in California and noticed the beautiful scenery was obscured by many billboards and signs. From this experience, he wrote the lyrics to the song that describe four instances of encountering signs that angered or concerned him. It became a hit both here in the US and in Canada. And, don't forget the song, "Love Shack", by the B-52's. It starts off with, "If you see a little sign by the side of the road that says...".

So, where am I going with all of this about signs? And how does it relate to the question,

"What does St. Paul's mean to me?"

Mike and I moved into our current home in late 1997 and married in April of 1998, in a Lutheran church in Reisterstown that I was attending at the time. We decided on this area of Howard County because it was centrally located for our job commutes, and we had heard the schools were good. Important for the future! We were busy with our new life, learning about the area, deciding what grocery stores and restaurants were nearby, etc.

It was also important to us that we find a church in the area. I was raised Lutheran, Mike, Catholic. We were a little indecisive at that time about which denomination we wanted to pursue. I have to say that I very much wanted to find a Lutheran church. Then, one day, I was driving north on Route 29 from the Burtonsville area, heading home, and I saw, YES, you guessed it, a SIGN. A small, partially hidden by foliage, SIGN, with an arrow pointing west and the words barely readable, "St. Paul's Lutheran Church". Now, the traffic circles were not there yet and neither was the community of Maple Lawn. But we followed this sign and found our church!

And I suppose you can say, "The rest is history". We did not look further. I remember being warmly welcomed by Pastor Rod and the congregation. I was immediately awe-struck by the physical beauty of the church. I still am. Mike and I became members of St Paul's and joined the congregation. Judy Hewitt was our new member sponsor, thank you Judy!

A couple of years later, our son, Eric, was born, on August 17, 2000.1 remember those back-of -the-church-pew days so well! He was baptized at St. Paul's by Pastor Rod in November of that year, and celebrated his First Communion, in 2008, again, officiated by Pastor Rod. He attended Sunday School regularly and was confirmed when Pastor Carolyn joined our church. Eric's confirmation class was her first class at St. Paul's! It was a great group of kids. I think this class holds a special place in her heart. He went on to attend Road Trip, under the guidance of Pastor Carolyn, to Detroit, while in high school. What an experience for him! He is now a rising junior at University of Maryland, College Park! How time flies!

Over the years, it has been a blessing and a comfort to us knowing that we have had, and will always have, a nurturing and caring church family at St. Paul's. We have found it rewarding to serve and give back to our church by assisting with ushering and with various church functions, such as the annual Yard Sale, which was sorely missed this year!


I taught Sunday School for a couple of years and served on Council for two years as Chair of Christian Education. These were very rewarding experiences for me, both spiritually and personally. I learned a lot about how the church council leads and manages a Church, and about teaching young children the Bible and religion. Speaking of LEAD, I am a recent member of the LEAD committee, and I serve on the 150th Anniversary committee, which is continuing to come up with creative ideas to celebrate our wonderful heritage as a congregation. More to come on that in the near future. Just wait and see!


Most recently, I have become involved in the Adult Sunday School class led by Pastor Dave. We have such lively, interesting, spiritually uplifting discussions, both in person and on ZOOM. I have learned so much more about the Bible and how these ancient writings can relate to our world today. In today's uncertain and complicated times, this has been such a comfort.

So, what does St Paul's REALLY mean to me? Family, friends, community, spiritual comfort, religious education, thoughtful and powerful prayer, a safe place to unburden, a forever SIGN of God's enduring and everlasting LOVE.

God's Peace to all of you,

Karen Jennings



Joe and Cathy Dymek's Wedding

Almost 43 years ago. They were married at St. Paul's in September 1980

Joe and Cathy Dymek

Just married almost 43 years ago in September. Just leaving the church and stopping a moment for pictures.