*First church in Frederick county.
*Largest ELCA Lutheran church in the state of Maryland.
*American pioneer of the Sunday School movement.
*Served as a hospital following the Battle of Antietam, 1862
*Played key role in the founding of Gettysburg Seminary (first Lutheran seminary in America).
*Played key role in the creation of Maryland Synod and General Synod (grandparent of Evangelical Lutheran Church in America).
Evangelical Lutheran Church turned 273 years old in November 2011. It is older than the United States of America. George Washington was only six years old when The Rev. John Caspar Stoever, Jr., began preaching to families in 1733 and effected the organization of the Lutheran Church in Monocacy on November 26, 1738. The early congregation met at different locations near Thurmont until the first home in Frederick, a log church, was constructed in 1746 on the site of what is now the Rupp Hospitality House.
During the summer of 1752, construction started on a new building made of limestone. The foundation was dug and construction on the walls had started when the French and Indian War broke out. Men laid down their building tools and took up arms. As a result, no progress was made until the war ended about seven years later. In 1762, the entire community came to the official dedication of the new church. The building was constructed of native blue limestone and had just a single tower. Part of this building still exists as Trunk Hall and the Music Ministry suite. Gas lamps originally lighted the sanctuary. If one looks very closely, one can still see the imperfections in the wood where the pipes came through.
In 1771, the church purchased two bells from London, England, one of which is still being used in the bell tower. Their original cost was about $900, plus a transportation fee of about $400.
The Church Sunday School, dating back to 1812, is one of the oldest in the U.S. While serving as the second President of our country, President John Adams spoke and worshiped in our church (what is now Trunk Hall) on May 28, 1800.
In October of 1853, the congregation authorized the Council to lay plans and proceed with the building of a new church. The new construction would have twin towers replacing the original single tower edifice. Construction started in 1854 with the laying of a new cornerstone in August of that year. The cornerstone is located at the southeast corner of the Church Street side of the church. Construction was completed in 1855 and the dedication of the "temple with twin towers" was completed in December of that year. The new structure was 97 feet long with a width of 74 feet, nearly 30 feet more than the older building. The twin octagonal towers rise to a height of 150 feet. The architectural style is called Norman Gothic.
The outbreak of the Civil War left its mark on the church. When Lee's army reached Frederick on September 6, 1862, the pastor of the church had to exercise special restraint, for on the next day the church was crowded with Confederate officers and soldiers at the church services. The pastor was prudent and studiously avoided all political issues. The church was more seriously involved in the War during the battle of Antietam later that month. The Union Army seized the church on the opening day of the battle to be used as a hospital. Some of the very same soldiers who worshiped in the church were brought back in a wounded or dying condition. Pictures of the church being used as a hospital can be found in the rear of the church.
The first organ for the church was purchased in 1771. The current organ is only the fourth organ in the church's history. The Möller Company of Hagerstown built this organ in 1981. It is made of 2,824 pipes and has three keyboards for the hands and one for the feet. It is the largest pipe organ in Frederick County.
The stained glass windows each set forth a biblical theme. These windows were originally installed as enameled glass in 1855 and were gradually converted to stained glass over a period of 70 years. In particular, note the two windows on either side of the organ. The Christmas Crèche was given as a memorial to Alton Bennett by his wife, Sarah, in 1976. The primary figures were hand carved in Italy. They are four-fifths size. Dick and Cathy Lewis (now residing in Texas) built the wooden stable ~1980. Bill Bucher carved the large sheep, while an art teacher at Hood College in 1978-80, and lay person at ELC. He is now a retired pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Utica, Maryland. Mrs. Bennett purchased the wood block for $450.
In 1985, the congregation received The Guidepost Magazine Award for having the most innovative program (Families Plus!) reaching out to the community. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale presented the award and spoke in the sanctuary.
A capital campaign to fund updates to our cooling & heating system, electrical & lighting, as well as painting, flooring, pew cushions, and other interior and exterior improvements, was completed in 2000. Over $1,300,000 was spent on this restoration. All the wood in the sanctuary was completely refinished. During this time, liturgical symbols adorning the triangular accent areas of the ceiling were carefully selected and hand-painted.
On November 3, 2002, the congregation voted to establish a satellite campus in the growing community of Urbana. After eight years, our congregation voted to birth Urbana as Living Grace Lutheran Church on October 17, 2010. It was a unanimous vote and couldn't more clearly demonstrate the desire we all share to see the seed we planted in Urbana grow into a thriving, independent congregation.
The symbols on the ceiling in the sanctuary explain who we are as God's people, how God meets us, and what God calls us to do:
The Chi Rho—Christ the Son. It is a combination of two Greek letters, χ & ρ, which are the first two letters in Christ's name. The symbol may also bear some resemblance to the Latin word ΡΑΧ, which is translated as peace.
The Trinity—God the Three-in-one. On each angle of the triangle is an abbreviation for each member of the Godhead, P=Father, F=Son, S=Spirit Connecting each is the Latin phrase no est meaning, “is not” (the Son is not the Spirit). In the center appears the Latin word “deus” meaning God. Connected to the persons of the Trinity by the word “est” meaning “is” (the Father is God). Therefore, no member of the Trinity is like any other but all are God.
Lamb of God (Salvator Numdi)—God the Son as Savior, who has redeemed the world from sin. The Lamb carries a flag bearing the Cross Pateé symbolizing his victory over death.
The Descending Dove—God the Holy Spirit. The Dove shows God's presence among us, accompanied by the flame of Pentecost.
The Sacraments—Chalice with Host & Scalloped Shell represent the ways in which God comes to us in worship through Holy Baptism and Holy Communion.
The Word—God comes to us in worship through the words of the Holy Scriptures.
The Icthus—the fish symbol is possibly the oldest symbol in Christianity. In the early church, followers would place the fish on their walls or door posts as a secret message to fellow “Christians” that Christ was worshipped in that place. The Greek letters ιχθυς not only spell the word fish, but also formed a secret message (Jesus Christ, God’s Son, and Savior). Secondly, the fish is a reminder that we are "fishers for people."
Harvest of Wheat—Jesus calls us to harvest the field. We have been blessed by God’s abundant harvest of love, forgiveness, and hope. The Gospel of Matthew reminds us that we have been called to spread this good news: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Matthew 9:37-38
Ein Feste Burg is Unser Gott—the opening phrase from Luther's hymn "A Mighty Fortress" in the original German with original music representative of our forbearers in faith here at ELC. Accompanying this picture is a rendering of an angel playing a lute. This is a symbol not only of our Lutheran heritage, but of music as well.
Luther's Seal or Coat of Arms—a very colorful symbol of his (and our) faith. In the center is a black cross—symbolizing Christ’s crucifixion. The cross is enclosed inside a heart signifying that in his love for us, Christ died. Behind that is a white rose symbolizing purity on top of a blue field that represents heaven. The entire seal is encircled in a gold ring, which represents eternity.
Other buildings on our campus:
Schaeffer Center: built in 1891 as a Sunday school building. Now houses the Sunday school classes (three yr. olds through 8th grade), our church nursery, and classrooms for the church's Wee Folk Nursery School.
Hahn Building: constructed in the 1820's and acquired by Evangelical Lutheran in 1958. Houses the Church offices, the ELC quilters and many meeting spaces
Traver Youth Center: used by the church’s youth ministry program.
Rupp Hospitality House: originally used as the Parsonage; built in the 1840's on the site of the old log church. Social events and adult education classes are held here as well as the offices of Families Plus!
Trunk Hall: located to the rear of the sanctuary on the site of the old stone church. First floor fellowship hall; Music Ministry suite is on the second floor.