Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

> Tome Memorial UMC; Served July 2003 – February 2011

Tome Memorial United Methodist Church has been at 100 N. Main Street, Port Deposit, MD since 1821.




Methodists were practicing Christianity in Port Deposit well before 1821.  At that time land was donated for the first Methodist church building.  Named the Paw Paw Building, probably from the Paw Paw tree, it is said women were seated separately from the men, and slaves worshiped in the balcony.  It was the first Methodist Episcopal Church in Port Deposit.


In 1837, the Methodists built their second church across the street from the first.  The width of the new building was made equal to the length of the Paw Paw building.  The new building served as a church, then as a public school, and then in 1902 it was refurbished, renamed Nesbitt Hall, and presented to Tome Church by Mrs. Evelyn S. Tome in memory of her parents.  It was dedicated on Sunday, December 29, 1839.     

In 1872, the town’s most famous citizen, Jacob Tome (Evelyn’s husband), built the Tome Methodist Episcopal Church (the present day house of worship) at a cost of $65,999. On October 30, 1872, the Honorable Jacob Tome presented the church to the Trustees.  The church can seat 600 people.


Mr. Tome was a near penniless part-time school teacher who floated down the Susquehanna River on a lumber raft in 1833, at the age of 23.  By 1850 his acute business sense operating in the then-bustling transport center of Port Deposit had made him a fortune in lumber, banking and real estate.  He built the current church next to the Paw Paw, and its width in turn was made greater than the length of Nesbitt Hall.  As seems fitting, all these structures were built from Port Deposit granite.


In June 1941, the name of the church was changed to Tome Memorial Methodist Church, and then changed again in 1968 to Tome Memorial United Methodist, to reflect changes occurring in the Methodist Church as it merged with other denominations. 


Tome Memorial Church through the ages


This image was taken from Main street in Port Deposit looking south (Towards Conowingo Dam; although when this image was taken Conowingo Dam was not even a project)

According to the information that I have, this image was taken in 1908 by Ward Abrahams (father of Rodney and Norman Abrahams who are current members of our church)

I believe that this image was taken in the mid-1940s.

Image of the historic Tome Memorial post card

That is how our church looks like in November 2010

I named this picture Wet Leaf. Tome church is in the background. It was taken on 11/16/2010.

I named this picture Rainy Day in Port Deposit. In the foreground we see Iron fence around the church, Tome church is in the background.

I named this picture Wilson’s Rose. If you look carefully, you will notice two roses blooming stubbornly despite cold wind and dreary weather. Audrey Abrahams once told me that Wilson Abrahams planted that rose bush many moons ago. Every time I see flowers on that bush, I think of Wilson. In the foreground we see iron fence around the church with Tome church in the background.

Here is another image of Wilson’s Rose…

And here is another image of the Wilson’s Rose. I think that Wilson’s Rose caught my imagination because it blooms stubbornly against all odds and in spite of cold, rain and dreary days of fall and early winter.

From 2Blog


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Notes for My Last Sermon (Farewell Message) at Tome Memorial United Methodist Church

(February 20, 2011)


It is the last Sunday that Debbie and I will be joining this community for worship. For the last seven years and eight months, Tome Memorial United Methodist church has been an important part of our lives. As with all journeys, this part of our lives now must come to an end. While goodbyes have a certain element of sadness, let us remember that every end is the beginning of something new; something new in our lives, and something new in yours.

I realize that my leaving is the source of sadness for some of you. Debbie and I grieve with you. Grief is the price of love; you loved us and we grieve the prospect of being separated from all of you.

I also realize that for some of you my leaving is a source of joy; Debbie and I rejoice with you. I sincerely hope that sometime in the future God provides someone who is able to fill your need for pastoral presence and leadership.

All that being understood, I cannot look back at our ministry at Tome without realizing what a profound mark you are leaving on my and Debbie’s lives. While I will not claim that these seven years and eight months were easy, I can honestly say that this time was marked by tremendous spiritual and emotional growth and that both of our lives are richer for that experience.

When you opened your homes and invited us for a visit we were there for you. We prayed together, we laughed together, we cried together.

{Ill: Billy  and Dead-Cat-On-A-Stick story}

{Ill: Tragically losing Ruth; tragically losing Wendy}

When you were in the hospital and I became aware of it, I visited with you and prayed with you and for you. When Debbie and I were sick you prayed for us.

There were times of laughter, there were times of sadness, there were times of anguish, and through it all we shared our lives and God’s grace was among us.

While being part of the Tome Memorial community, Debbie and I wrestled with different aspects of our faith. I learned from you the value of tradition and history. You watched patiently my pastoral formation; you humored my naivety and impatience; you taught me to be adaptable and patient. I will always be grateful to you for extending so much grace, patience and love to a geriatric hippy turned pastor. THANK YOU!

You stood by me while I had a torn Achilles tendon, abdominal tumor and a life threatening operation, wrote my commissioning and ordination papers, went on a cross-cultural tour of Nicaragua and Costa Rica and mission trips to Cuba and Kentucky. You loved me and Debbie, you prayed for us and you showed interest in our lives.

And we learned from all you.

Billie taught me to write down my sermons and to number them. Because of that advice I know that this is sermon # 420, and I have a library of sermons that I can refer to and see the progression of my personal and pastoral formation. That was a tremendous help as I was preparing for commissioning and ordination.

On December 19, 2010, when we were decorating for Christmas, I asked everybody to pose for pictures. As I was taking pictures, Donna said, “you never give up, do you?” You had to be there to hear her; she said it as a compliment and an affirmation. What she did not know was that I needed to hear an affirmation that day. Donna, thank you for that remark.

I will never forget the day that Ruthann taught me that if I want to receive something I should give it away first (i.e. if I want to receive love, I should love others first).

Watching Deannie I saw unconditional love in action.

Billy  challenged me to struggle with “would Jesus listen to a barefoot man?” story.

I think that Alice’s Jewish Apple Cake is the best in the world, and if you can keep a secret I will tell you that it is even better than my wife’s. HANDS-DOWN BETTER. From Alice I also learned to enjoy every moment of life to the fullest; she has great outlook on life in general.

I learned about personal grit and strength of character from Mary-Mary-Quite-Contrary.

I learned from Janet about being loving and accepting.

I learned from Robbie about optimism.

I learned from Rodney how to be steadfast, fair, how to stretch limited resources to almost unimaginable lengths and how to never stop learning.

I learned from Norman how go with the flow and not to get bent out of shape by anything.

I learned from Tom  to never sweat small things and to keep first things first.

I hung around musicians most of my life because my mom taught musicians in the old country. Ginny, you are a very talented musician and a patient pedagog and teacher. Thank you for everything that I learned from you.

From Kayla and Carrie I learned about spiritual generosity. They are always ready to give testimony, to smile and to offer a prayer for a friend in need, and to enthusiastically read the Scriptures.

Watching Willie I learned how tradition becomes part of who we are. I can easily foresee Willie saying someday, “you can take the boy out of Port Deposit but you cannot take Port Deposit out of the boy…”

Willie, Kayla, and Carrie. When you are elected mayor of Port Deposit (not at the same time of course) track me down and invite me for the inaugural prayer. It will be my honor.

Our sister Terry now lives too far from the church to attend our services. But I know that she reads my sermons on the blog and I want to share that from her I learned about generosity, generosity of Spirit, and about being genuine and true to my core convictions. – “U R Z Salt of Z Earth”

Lots of things happened in all of our lives while Debbie and I were a part of the Tome family. There were happy times, there were struggles, uneasiness, sometimes conflict, and through it all our faith was strengthened, and for that Debbie and I will always be grateful to the community of Tome.

Before closing today, I want to share this story from my and Debbie’s lives. When Debbie’s mom, my mother-in-law died one sad-sad Saturday afternoon, I actually wanted to come and spend time with you the following Sunday (the next day) because being with you gave me a sense of being connected to God. I don’t want to leave without thanking you for that day and helping me to get through that period of our lives.

As we prepare to close this service and to move downstairs, I would like to read a Scripture that is usually associated with funerals. It is from 2 Timothy 4:7 where Paul writes to his student, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

When I am much-much older and actually lose all my hair, I hope that somebody will be able to honestly say that about me at my funeral. And if they do, it will be in part because of strength of character and perseverance of spirit that I’ve learned while serving you.

Soli Deo Gloria! Thank you for being part of our lives and welcoming us in yours.

I’ll pray for you
And you pray for me

Until We Meet Again

I’ll think of you
And you think of me

Until We Meet Again

The Lord up in Heaven
Will keep us together
Whether it’s raining
or sun shining weather

So I’ll pray for you
And you pray for me

Until we meet again

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It was an emotional farewell luncheon at Tome Memorial after the worship on 2/20/2011 as we were saying our good-byes.

Thanx to everybody who came out and thanx to everybody who prepared food and organized the luncheon.

At Tome Memorial UMC, we have something that I call “a pastors cemetery” for the lack of a better name. It is a collection of pictures of all the pastors who served the church since 1872. Today my picture was added to that collection.

Here is a copy of the my picture

I served Tome Memorial United Methodist church for seven years and eight months.

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