By Stephanie M. Mangino
The Winchester Star
MILLWOOD —For almost 200 years, people have gathered inside the brick walls of what was once Bethel Baptist Church in Millwood.
The old church, now overseen by Bethel Memorial Inc., no longer has a set denomination. But people are drawn to attend it twice a year - in the summer and winter.
At 11 a.m. Sunday, Bethel Memorial will hold its annual meeting and traditional service, to be followed by a picnic lunch.
The service will include a presentation by Michael Stepniak, dean of Shenandoah Conservatory. He was recommended as a speaker by two Bethel board members, said Ian Williams of White Post, board president.
He will offer a talk titled "An Apologia."
The topic, Williams said, is certain to pique the audience's interest.
Special music will be provided by Steven Murray and his wife Amy, who will sing a religious selection and a secular one, Williams said.
The officiant for the service is the Rev. Anne Manson of Christ Church in Millwood. Although Manson has retired from Christ Church, she will preside over the event.
While Bethel does not have a particular religious affiliation, Christ Church's rector has presided at its events for the past decade, Williams said.
Manson completed her duties as a priest for Cunningham Chapel Parish, of which Christ Church is a part, in June after four years. She still bears the title of parish rector, said Maisie Maguire of Berryville, senior warden of the parish vestry.
Manson will retain the title until she moves from the rectory by October, Williams added.
Supply priests are conducting Christ Church's regular services until an interim priest is selected, said Williams, also a Christ Church member. The interim leader is not eligible to become the church's permanent priest, who likely will be selected in a year or more.
The covered-dish picnic under the oaks surrounding the church will start after the 55-minute service, Williams said. Paper plates, iced tea, lemonade, water, and ham will be provided.
Everyone in the community is welcome to attend the free event, Williams said, "the more the merrier."
The same goes for the winter's annual Christmas Lesson and Carols Service, which will be held at 5 p.m. Dec. 19.
It will be the first Christmas service since 2008. Last year's service was snowed out.
Bethel can be reached from Winchester by traveling east on U.S. 50 to Kennel Road (Rt. 625) opposite Mountain View Motel. Turn right, then make another right onto Swift Shoals Road (Rt. 622) before making an almost immediate left on Bethel Lane. The church is on the left at the top of the hill.
For more information, contact Ian Williams at 540-667-1266.
- Contact Stephanie M. Mangino at
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