News and Views

Calvary UMC Lights up the Holidays

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By Susan Baguette

If the walls could talk about the hundreds of hands that have chopped, mashed, and kneaded ingredients to make cheeseballs for Calvary United Methodist Church’s Holiday Bazaar in the past, they would be chattering right now. This Nov. 11 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m,. they would describe both varieties of the 250 cheeseballs sold at the event last year. This year they hope to make and sell even more. 

Through the banging of tables being set up, wrestling stringing lights and signs posted in the hallways for the event, some of Calvary’s members waxed nostalgic about the events of years past that have made this church thrive for 253 years. 

On the March

Anne Mossburg doesn’t remember the march on Sunday, Sept. 14,1930, from the old Methodist Church on East Church Street to the new building at 131 West Second Street. She was an infant, and her parents, Agnes and Grover, carried her. Today she is ninety-four and has been an active member of Calvary all her life. There is one other living member who made that march – Barbara Burke. She is 104. In September 1930, she skipped along with her Sunday School class. All traffic was stopped on the way to the new church on Second and Bentz, across the street from Memorial Grounds.

The Board of the Methodist Church in Philadelphia became the architect for the new neo-Gothic style church and Joseph W. Urner of Frederick was chosen the assistant architect. Flat cars on a locomotive lumbered along to Frederick carrying the hand-hewn Plymouth granite stone bricks from Massachusetts, numbered to be laid together like a gigantic jigsaw puzzle. During construction of the nearly block-long building, workmen who wanted to leave their mark deliberately put two bricks out of place. Members have searched for those two bricks ever since.

The building was well endowed with a stunning sanctuary, an intimate chapel decorated with Tiffany-style windows retrieved from the old church building, and second floor education rooms for children and adults.

In the Sept. 13,1930, issue of the Frederick News several articles were dedicated to the new church building in extravagant detail. Local businesses wanted the public to know who fashioned the wrought iron hardware for the front entrance, the plaster used for walls, and the draperies in the second-floor parlor. Window screens in the parsonage were given clever treatment. Since the windows rolled out, there seemed no possibility for screens. Then came a brilliant idea. The screens were designed to roll up like window shades and were hidden away in wooden boxes at the tops of the windows. They were called “Higgin-type”, the first of their kind ever used in the U.S. After installation at Calvary, Hood College and Frederick Hospital also had them installed. 

Treats and Treasures

Now, as you wander through the church during the Holiday Bazaar this Nov. 11, you will appreciate both floors of the spacious church interior. The assortment of vendors will be selling items such as handmade crocheted and knitted creations, dog treats, jewelry, and mushroom tea and coffee. (Yes! Mushroom tea and coffee!) Items for the silent auction will be lined up along the balcony and include a complete, stunning Lenox set of Christmas dinnerware and a trio of framed paintings of familiar, local scenes by Frederick’s own David Yontz, who frequently exhibited at Antietam Gallery in Sharpsburg. Crafts for children will keep them occupied and delighted. Overlooking the Parish Hall from the balcony will be a scrumptious luncheon served up with live music onstage, next to holiday decorations, wreaths, and ornaments to purchase. More vendors line the halls and rooms with a surprising array of gifts that say take me home.

The 'Unnamed Donor'

The idea of building this new Calvary Methodist Church was a triumph for Frederick planners. The land had been a lumberyard and did not suit what this part of the town had become.  In the lovely residential neighborhood was the new Armory (now part of Parks and Recreation) and Baker Park. Directly across on Bentz Street was Memorial Grounds, the only park in Maryland that commemorated soldiers of every American conflict from the French and Indian War to the veterans of WWI. But there was a problem: Cost. The church council members shook their heads and said, "No, it's too expensive."

Then an “unnamed donor” paid $40,000 for the land, the lumber company moved, and the donor gave the deed for the land to Calvary to build a church.

Rumors flew like wildfire until the secret was out. The “unnamed donor” was Joseph D. Baker, the wealthy businessman who had given so much to Frederick and continued to do so for many years. Baker’s mother had been a member of Calvary.

Raising funds was definitely on the minds of Calvary’s congregation. Completed in 1930 during the heart of the Great Depression, members of the new church began fund-raising immediately to pay off their new mortgage. After pledges and selling the old church building, the congregation still had to raise $110,000. (In today’s money that’s $1,898,120)] Frequent dinners were open to the public serving turkey and ham with all the trimmings. Fixed by ladies of the parish, each dinner cost 75 cents. They were so popular that crowds dined in the Parish Hall and stage as well as the second-floor balcony. United Methodist Men also served pancakes and sausage breakfasts. After many fund-raisers, Calvary paid off its mortgage. It took 11 years.

Immersed in the Community

On September 18, 1862, the ravages of the Civil War came to the church’s door in Frederick as the original Methodist Church building became a hospital after the battle of Antietam. As many as 50 wagons came rumbling in from Sharpsburg, filled with the wounded. During the Civil War, military law required Methodist churches to favor the North. In 1864 President Abraham Lincoln wrote that “. . . the Methodist Church sends more soldiers to the field, more nurses to the hospitals, and more prayers given than any.”

Calvary has learned that there are many diverse ways to be immersed in the community. There was a small Calvary orchestra in 1958. The brass section decided to serenade Frederick with Christmas carols played in the 90-foot tower in the front of the church. When the day arrived, the musicians were puzzled about how to get themselves and their instruments up the narrow ladder to the top of the tower. They decided to tie a rope around the instruments and haul them up, one at a time, then climb up themselves. It was cold up there. The abilities of the musicians were somewhat hampered, but they decided to give it a try again the following year. Once again, they hauled their instruments and themselves up to the top of the tower and tried to play. It was so cold that none of the brass instruments functioned. The trombone wouldn’t slide and none of the trumpet valves and keys worked. From then on, the orchestra decided this was not a practical way of giving back to the community.

On Nov, 11 this year the proceeds from Calvary’s Holiday Bazaar are already earmarked for charities exclusively within Frederick County. The flurry of activity is whipping up the energy of young and old alike in hopes of making successful sales. Singing angels made from old hymnals have been a favorite holiday purchase. An impressive array of handmade clothes for 18-inch dolls will capture imaginations. Gift jars filled with sweets, treats, condiments, and jams will light up holiday tables. Church members are gathering ingredients to create cheeseball delicacies. During the 2022 Holiday Bazaar, one of the volunteers overheard a conversation between mother and daughter:

“Mom! Hurry up! Get in line! The cheeseballs are going fast.”
A gentleman in front of them shook his head.
T"hey could be all gone before we get to the sale table. Last year the cheeseballs sold out in 45 minutes.” 

The Holiday Bazaar at Calvary UMC  on November 11 will be full of excitement. Spirits of years past will be shining everywhere as the holidays work their magic. 











Photo Captions –


1] Calvary United Methodist Church today.


2] Cathleen Gough, Mary Crum, Becky Isaacs, and Alice Linton

show off their holiday creations.


3] A hymnal angel’s desire is to go home with a connoisseur of

    holiday decorations.


4] On the September 14,1930 march from the old church children

    turn the corner on W. Second and Bentz Streets as they

    approach Calvary’s new church home.


5] ((To come with photograph of cheeseball mixing to be taken at

    7:00pm on 10/26.)) It is not an easy task to combine cheeseball

    Ingredients. Just ask ((Name of the person doing the mixing.))