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Trinity Lutheran Church-Deer Park Road

Source:  Centennial History of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Maryland 1820-1920, Wentz

This congregation was organized on February 5. 1866. It was incorporated in October of that year. Those who united in its organization had recently come directly from Germany, and so the articles of incorporation provided that "all worship and services of the congregation should be in the German language as long as one male member should desire it."

The congregation joined the Maryland Synod. The first pastor was the Rev. Gerhardt Rademacher. A church building was erected in 1867. The lot for the building was donated by George Bitzel and his wife Elizabeth. Subsequently the congregation acquired an adjacent property of several acres upon which was built a parsonage and a parochial school building.

In May 1868, Pastor Rademacher influenced the congregation to sever its connection with the Maryland Synod and unite with the Missouri Synod.

In 1878 Pastor Rademacher was succeeded by the Rev. J.George Haefner. Through his influence the articles of incorporation were amended..

Pastor Haefner served the congregation until 1884. His successor, the Rev. G. H. Zimmerman, ministered here from 1884 to 1890. Then the Rev. F. G. Schaller was pastor of the congregation for three years until 1893. From 1894 until January 1901, the Rev. S. S. Henry was the faithful shepherd of the flock.

During all this time the German language was used almost exclusively in the services of the church and in the work of the parochial school.

But the steady Americanization of the young people of the congregation was followed by an increasing demand for the use of the English language.

From the beginning of 1901 until the end of 1907 the congregation was without a regular pastor. For several years Rev. S. J. Derr. of Hampstead, and Rev. P. H. Miller. D.D. of Westminster, ministers of the Maryland Synod gave the congregation occasional services. Many of the members, adhering closely to the Missouri Synod, refused to attend the services at which these ministers officiated.

In February 1904, Mr. John Schaefer, acting for himself and many others, filed a bill of complaint against the trustees of the congregation and the Rev. P. H Miller. D.D., and the Rev. S. J. Derr, alleging that the trustees had permitted the use of the church property for worship and devotions other than those contemplated by the articles of incorporation, and were having such worship and services conducted by ministers "who deny the validity, integrity and binding force, the sanctity and absolute authority of the Symbolical Books of 1580." The bill prayed for an injunction restraining Dr. Miller and Rev. Derr from conducting religious services in the church. The bill of complaint was dismissed by the Circuit Court of Carroll County, and upon appeal to the Court of Appeals of Maryland the decision of the lower court was affirmed. Meanwhile Rev. Miller continued to serve the congregation regularly, preaching on alternate Lord's Day afternoons and instructing the children of the congregation and preparing them for confirmation.

The litigation caused a deep split in the ranks of the congregation. From 1879 to 1888 a young lawyer of Westminster, William L. Seabrook, whom they had known from boyhood, enjoyed the close confidence of many members of the congregation. In 1888 Mr. Seabrook gave up the practice of law and entered the Theological Seminary at Gettysburg. After serving General Synod congregations at Wichita and Abilene, Kansas, he became a member of the United Synod of the South, and was pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, at Winchester, Virginia, from 1895 to 1902, and of Trinity Lutheran Church, at Newberry, South Carolina, from 1902 to 1907.

In July 1907, circumstances brought the Rev. Mr. Seabrook back to his old home at Westminster. The Deer Park congregation asked him to become its pastor. Believing that with divine help he would be able to reunite the congregation he accepted the call. By letter and by personal visitation he succeeded in rallying the members of the congregation. A large catechetical class was organized. The Common Service was introduced into the weekly worship. A note of loyalty to the Lutheran Church and to the Lutheran faith was emphasized, and in a short time all but one of the enrolled members of the congregation had again taken up their active relations to the church.

Even Mr. Schaefer accepted Seabrook as his pastor and the church was made whole.  Mr. Schaefer was buried, in 1911,  from the old church that he helped organize. In his will he left to the congregation the sum of $200 unconditionally. In respect to his memory the congregation applied a portion of this bequest to the purchase of an individual communion service, which, suitably inscribed, will remain a memorial to the devotion, loyaltv and charity of John Schaefer.

 

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