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St. Luke’s Church blankets community in generosity

by Judith Hruz


St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Brighton is nothing short of resourceful.

And generous. Yes, add generous to the list.

But first, the story of the church’s resourcefulness:

Many decades ago, when decorative home candles were not easy to find nearby — homeowners often trekked to high-end department stores in downtown D.C. for their purchases — the women of the historic church planned a Candle Festival in fall of 1960, featuring an assortment of commercial bayberry, beeswax and colorful seasonal candles provided by a New England manufacturer, according to Caroline Hussman, who wrote a brief history of the festival.

That challenge was solved.

Parishioners soon perfected making candles, pouring the hot wax into intricate molds and beeswax into antique forms, Hussman writes in her history.

Thrifty and resourceful.

The popular community event began to include a baked sale, with pies, cakes, breads and cookies and signature Raspberry Tarts, which remain a specialty, according to Hussman.

Then there were fresh shucked oysters on the half shell, country ham sandwiches, a steaming, fragrant cauldron of chicken soup, a barrel of cider, and local apples and pumpkins for sale. And that doesn’t include local handicrafts, Hussman says in her history.

Add delicious and creative to the list.

As the years went on, the event morphed into the Fall Bazaar – though it is still lovingly known as the Candle Festival – and took some twists and turns. Restrictions on serving certain food to the public went into effect and candles became widely available.

But change can be good. And the church — ever resourceful, remember? — added a quilt raffle thanks to Jan Byroad, who gathered women of the church neighborhood to design, cut and hand piece the coverings.

More than 20 quilts have been raffled, raising money for the church and the community.

That’s where the generous comes in. The church makes sure its proceeds benefits others.

This year, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church intends to donate a portion of the proceeds from its raffle to Sandy Spring Museum and Olney HELP, said June Stoyer, treasurer of the church.

As it turns out, Sandy Spring Museum is featuring several dozen contemporary story quilts in an exhibited titled “Quilts and the Stories They Tell” through March 12. (See more information in Arts & Entertainment Notes, page 12.)

St. Luke’s originated in 1870 and last year celebrated its 150th year, Stoyer said.

“We were planning a big celebration at our 60th annual Candle Festival held every October,” she said. “Needless to say, we were unable to have the festival.”

That did not stop the Brighton Quilters from making a quilt.

Add determination to the list.

In describing its exhibit, Sandy Spring Museum says that every quilt has a backstory and the creation of a story quilt begins with a message from its maker.

Surely this year’s quilt, so lovingly crafted by the Brighton Quilters, tells the story of being a good neighbor.

Oh, and all those other lovely adjectives.


    Quilt Raffle tickets are available on the website of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church at https://www.stlukebrighton.com  Tickets are $5 each and an email will be sent to every purchaser with an invitation to a Zoom drawing on March 14 at noon. Zoom login information will be sent prior to the drawing. Purchases may be made by credit card or PayPal through the site.

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