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Brownsville church plans 1800's-era holiday service

| Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013, 7:50 p.m.
The Mark Kovscek family, dressed in period garb, will portray the Jacob Bowman family at a special service Saturday at Christ Church Anglican. The family was among the Brownsville pioneers.

The Christ Church Anglican in Brownsville will present an 1800's-era Christmas service on Saturday in the tradition of that experienced by Brownsville's pioneers, including Jacob Bowman and his family, which will be portrayed by a Brownsville family dressed in period costume.

The one-hour church service, led by the Rev. Deacon Donald Bowers, will begin at 6 p.m. Saturday in the Anglican church at 319 Church St. It will include Christmas carols, the only deviation from the original worship.

Members of the congregation will be dressed in period clothing for the solemn, meditative service, which is taken from the 1789 prayer book of the Anglican Church. The doors to the church, which seats about 200 people, will open at 5:30 p.m.

“As a church, we want to do things that are meaningful for the community. We want to share the history of our church, spread Christmas cheer and create a memorable celebration of the season,” said Mark Kovscek, who will portray Jacob Bowman. The remainder of his large family portrays the Bowman clan.

A 10-minute prelude focused on the church's history, architecture, liturgy and decorations, will be performed prior to the service, Kovscek said.

The prelude will feature a dramatic performance by Kovscek and his family, dressed as the Bowmans. Jacob Bowman's father was German and Kovscek said he will speak in German, a small section of a Christmas poem written for children by the famed church reformer, Martin Luther. Kovscek's 7-year-old daughter, Emily, will recite the poem in English.

Following the service, the “Bowman family” will go to their homestead, Nemacolin Castle, to perform Christmas carols as part of the Brownsville Historical Society's candlelight tours. Bowman built the original wing of historic Nemacolin Castle in 1789 as a trading post.

Kovscek will portray Jacob Bowman as a 43-year-old man, the same age as Kovscek. His wife, Heidi, will portray Isabel Bowman, the Irish wife of the businessman.

The Bowman children will be portrayed by the Kovscek children: Hannah, 17, portraying Mary Sterling; Olivia, 15, as Annie Elliott; Emma, 13, as Harriet Elizabeth; Nathanael, 11, as James L.; Ava, 7, as Matilda; and Gloria, 3, as Louisa. All but two of their ages match those of the Bowman children in 1805.

Kovscek, who is president of a small software development firm, has been portraying Bowman for about three years.

“I have a fascination with history and the connection between Christ Church (Anglican) and the Bowman family,” said Kovscek, who is senior warden of the church, the highest lay position. Bowman also was a senior layman of the church.

“The parallels are fascinating,” Kovscek said.

Kovscek said his family's historical impersonation of the Bowman family evolved out of his daughter, Hannah, writing a tour guide for a historic church tour of Brownsville during a recent Market Street Arts Festival.

“One thing led to another and the next thing you know, we were the Bowmans. We kind of got the bug after that,” Kovscek added.

The elaborate period costumes worn by the family were made by Jackie Lapisardi, who also is involved with the Market Street Arts Festival.

Kovscek and his wife, Heidi Gearhart Kovscek, grew up in Belle Vernon and have lived in Brownsville for about 15 years. They moved to Washington, D.C., and then moved to Brownsville, where they were involved in youth ministries.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or