- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
More than 40 parishioners and family members turned out Saturday for the Alexandria Chapel United Methodist Church’s ninth annual community day, nine years after the church held its first five-mile walk in honor of a former member.
Reuben Baker became an avid exerciser after being diagnosed with heart disease, but it wasn’t enough to prevent his death from a heart attack in 2002. His widow, Jackie Baker of Accokeek, and her cousin, Rhonda Taylor of Chicamuxen, saw the walk as a fitting way to remember Reuben, one of the church’s more active members.
What started as an annual walk has now grown to include a community yard sale, activities for young children and free health checkups, and giveways of Accu-Chek blood-sugar monitors and personal hygiene kits for seniors.
“I can’t think of a better way to honor him and what he did in the church,” Jackie Baker said.
“It all started because of him,” Taylor said of Reuben, calling him an “all-around good person” who is “dearly, dearly missed in the church.”
This year, 14 people participated in the five-mile walk at 7:30 a.m. Saturday and many more arrived at the church’s community hall, a short walk from the chapel on Chicamuxen Road in Rison, in the hours that followed.
“The walk was shady most of the way, and downhill, so that was good,” said Rita Simmons of Rison, a church member for 48 years.
The theme for this year’s community day was “Back in the Day,” best exemplified by a half-dozen hot rods on display in the community hall’s side yard.
Brandon Diggs of Waldorf grew up going to the church and brought his red 1934 Plymouth to the event. He left his 1967 Lincoln and 1987 El Camino back at home.
“I’ve always liked old cars,” he said after wiping the Plymouth down. A few minutes later, Diggs’ young son, Austin, grabbed a cloth and finished the job.
Church members donated clothes for the yard sale, which also featured kitchenware, books, shoes, bedding, small appliances and knickknacks.
All unsold clothes went to the nonprofit LifeStyles of Maryland in La Plata, Taylor said.
Beside the yard sale tables, Trish Page of Marbury held a bake sale with muffins, cookies and other baked desserts to raise money to send seven children at the church to the Rock Youth Retreat in Ocean City in January.
Page said the church will hold additional fundraisers in the coming months and is looking for sponsors to help raise the $135 fee for each child to attend.
The community hall, which served as the church’s worship building before the current chapel was built in 1951, is under renovation, getting upgrades to its electricity and kitchen and a new bathroom.
“The hall has been sitting there for years and not being used, so we’re going to get it up to code so we can put it to use,” said Taylor, who remembers attending Sunday school and 4-H events at the community hall with her cousin, Baker. “We have children in our church now, so we need a place for activities.”
A small church with a typical Sunday congregation of about 40 members, its primary goal at the moment is to increase membership, Taylor said.
“We know that we are doing what we are supposed to being doing as a church,” she added.
“It doesn’t matter the size; it’s what you’re doing within your church.”
Jackie Baker said, “Even a small church can do great things.”