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.

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

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.