James Rada, Jr.
(11/6) For nearly a century the lives of
the Harriet Chapel and Catoctin Furnaces were
intertwined, not so surprising since they
stand across the street from one another.
The iron-smelting operation provided for
the temporal needs of the area residents while
Harriet Chapel took care of the spiritual
needs. The Catoctin furnaces smelted the iron
that helped build America. They used heat to
purify the metal and make it stronger. Harriet
Chapel used scripture to strengthen the soul.
However, although the furnace fires died
out in the 1920’s, Harriet Chapel has
continued through its hard times and grown. On
Oct. 26, Harriet Chapel celebrated 175th
anniversary with s special service presided
over by Right Rev. John Rabb, Bishop Suffragen
of the Diocese of Maryland. He was assisted by
Rev. Jeff Gehris, pastor of Graceham Moravian
Church; Rev. Thomas Momberg, rector of the All
Saints Episcopal Church and Rev. Sally Joyner-Giffin,
rector of Harriet Chapel.
Rabb spoke not only of the chapel’s history
but of its future as it continues to
synthesize the values of various
denominations, keeping only the valuable ones.
“This synthesis of various traditions is a
gift Harriet Chapel has had,” Rabb said.
The chapel was built in 1828. It was named
for Catoctin Furnace owner John Brien’s wife,
Harriet, who died in childbirth. During its
first years, it was served by a Moravian
minister from Graceham. It was consecrated on
October 25, 1833 and served as a mission
church to All Saints Episcopal Church in
Frederick. Then in the 1920’s as the Catoctin
Furnace’s operations were closing down,
Harriet Chapel became its own parish.
Clem Gardner has attended the church all
his life. He was born in the Auburn Mansion
where the Briens had lived and is related to
them. He has seen the parish change over the
years from the removal of the pot-belly stove
that used to heat the church to the
construction of the parish house, which Clem
Clem’s wife, Harriet, remembers how crowded
the church used for its Christmas services.
“Lots of people would be here and it would be
full,” she said. “They’d even come from
Frederick and everything was lit by
Due to its closeness to Camp David, Harriet
Chapel has also hosted some U.S. Presidents,
including Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford and
Perhaps, Rabb said it best at the
conclusion of his sermon when he said, “Happy
anniversary, Harriet Chapel. May God continue
the good work that has really just begun