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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Chocolate as bait

Evangelism is sweet at this Maryland congregation

Imagine chocolate everywhere. Chocolate cakes. Chocolate chip cookies. Chocolate pies. Chocolate milk. Even, in the case of a few overeager young ones and a fun-loving pastor, chocolate to wear.

When you think of cities known for chocolate, Smithsburg, a small town on the western edge of Maryland’s Catoctin Mountains, probably doesn’t spring to mind. But that’s not for lack of trying on the part of Trinity Lutheran Church.

Gerard F. Johnson, Trinity’s pastor, introduced the idea of a Chocolate Festival last year as an outreach event for Valentine’s Day weekend. It attracted such large numbers that the red brick church on Main Street was overflowing. This year’s event drew 400 and resulted in several first-time worship visitors the next day.


Mitchell Sneckenberg, 2, is lured to a chocolate fountain at the Trinity Lutheran Church (Smithsburg, Md.) Chocolate Festival.
Johnson said the first festival was a way “to attract the young commuter families into our fold.” Dave Young, congregational president, sees it as a way for people unfamiliar with church to find ways “to fit in right away.”


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