Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society
History Quarterly Digital Archives

Source: January 1994 Volume 32 Number 1, Pages 25–37

Historic Churches of the Great Valley:
A Symposium Sponsored by the Worship and Ministry Committee
of Valley Friends Monthly Meeting

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A Symposium Sponsored by the Worship and Ministry Committee of Valley Friends Monthly Meeting



Jean E. Kadyk Clerk, Valley Meeting

About a year ago, in the Fall of 1992, it was brought to our attention at one of our business meetings that 1993 would be the 280th year of continuous worship by Friends here in the Valley. It seemed very appropriate to begin thinking about how we might commemorate such a remarkable occurrence.

It wasn't any time at all before Elaine Coates came forth with the idea of recognizing the several churches in the area, and their congregations, that were formed by 1850 or before, and have all of you visit the Valley Meeting and share with us that which is so important, both historically and spiritually, to all of us.

And so here we are today. It is a great pleasure and privilege for me, as Clerk of the Meeting, to welcome all of you warmly. The Tredyffrin Easttown History Club is also here today for its meeting this month, and we also give its members a very special welcome. We hope you all will enjoy your visit with us.

In thinking about today's program the title of a very familiar old hymn -- I'm sure many of us grew up singing it -- came to mind: "Blest Be the Tie that Binds".

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During these recollections of our old churches in the Valley, may the tie that binds us all together become even stronger as we learn about each other and each other's history. Time is never better spent than when we use it to renew old ties and make new ones.


The Baptist Church in the Great Valley

Dr. James Bolin Pastor

The Baptist Church in the Great Valley is a great historic church, with 283 years of continuous ministry, of which we are very proud.

In the year 1701 some Welsh folk who were Baptists came to this area. They settled here, and soon tried to start a church. Ten years later, in the year 1711, they finally succeeded in beginning a church. It met in the homes of its members. (When you think about the fact that Baptists began in the year 1611, with the formation of a church in Spitalfield in England, and that the Baptists were still less than 100 years old when these people were already migrating to America and forming little community churches over here, it is quite impressive.) Yet at this time about sixteen Welsh Baptist families formed the Baptist Church in the Great Valley. For their pastor they called Hugh David, a Baptist minister from Wales.

In 1722 the church decided to build a meeting house. (As noted, it had met in the members' homes prior to that.) They built a log cabin meeting house. It was quite unique for its time, because it had a gallery along two sides of the building. It was 28 feet square, and the pulpit stood on the north side. The building had two doors, on the sides beneath each gallery. This little log structure was also noted for one other unusual feature -- something that no other meetings in the area had, not even the Quakers -- and that was a stove.

The church met in that log meeting house for almost three-quarters of a century.

On the eve of the Revolution the church welcomed to its pastorate a man named David Jones, who came up from Delaware. He was a great pulpiteer, a young man who happened to be here during those early formative days when great debates and discussions were taking place in the Philadelphia Baptist Association and all around these parts about the "oppression", as they called it, by the King of England. In 1775 David Jones preached a sermon in front of that log cabin meeting house, which was located near the present sanctuary, to the troops of Colonel Dewees' regiment, who had gathered there along with many citizens of Chester County. It was a day of prayer, called by the Continental Congress, and the Rev. David Jones preached a great sermon, ending it with a call to revolution. That sermon became sort of a basic call for the folks to take up the cause of the revolutionaries and join the Continental army.

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David Jones himself answered that call and became General Anthony Wayne's chaplain. He also carried a gun, I understand, even though he was a chaplain, and was involved in an incident that many of you may already know about. It seems that one night Chaplain Jones was travelling by himself and stopped in at a tavern. He found there a British officer, who was drinking at the bar. He promptly arrested him as his prisoner, and took him to General Washington at Valley Forge. (Of course, just what a chaplain was doing at a tavern we'll never know.)

The Reverend Jones was quite a character, quite well-known. He was a veteran of three wars: the Revolution, the campaign against the Indians in the 1790s, and the War of 1812. His burial plot is in our cemetery, and at his grave there are three plaques in recognition of the three wars in which he served.

The church build a new building in 1805. It still stands, and we're very proud of it. It is situated on 15 acres of land, of which the cemetery covers about half.

Over the years the Baptist Church in the Great Valley has started a number of other churches, among them the French Creek Seventh Day Baptist Church, the Vincent Baptist Church in Chester County, the Lower Merion church in Montgomery County, the Phoenixville church in Chester County, the Norristown church in Montgomery County, the Willistown church in Chester County, the West Chester church in Chester County, the Radnor church in Delaware County, and others. It is the mother church of more than a dozen churches altogether.

We're very proud of our heritage.

We are, of course, Baptists. We don't sprinkle. You may be wondering what they did back in the days before indoor baptistries. The answer is that the folks went across the street to Deer Creek. (Deer Creek is just a little trickle now, but back then it was quite a significant stream.) There exists in our church records a "call to baptism", at which time the women of the church petitioned the deacons to be sure to go down and clean out all the snakes by the creek -- or they weren't coming down!

The church has had 31 pastors in its 283 years. I am the 31st pastor. For some reason, the pastors tend to stay for a long time here.

One of the more distinguished pastors in recent times was Dr. Joseph Evans Sagebeer, who served from 1904 to 1926. He had a Ph. D. in psychology and was well-loved by the congregation. He helped turn our church into a more liberal-minded kind of Baptist Church, and to this day the American Baptist Church is interested in social issues and social action.

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We are a faith community that seeks to worship together and to provide Christian education. One of the things that we are doing at this time is continuing this Christian education program and engaging in a method of outreach into the community so that we may more efficiently minister to the people around us.

At the present time we have about 437 members, from around 200 families.

We're really proud of the heritage of our church. We maintain the building and grounds as a way to glorify God and an opportunity to minister in His name to the community, as we have for the 283 years we have now been in existence.


The Great Valley Presbyterian Church

Mary R. Ives Historian

The founders of the Great Valley Presbyterian Church were Welsh Presbyterians who left their country, came to America, and settled in William Penn's colony in order to secure freedom of worship for themselves and their children. Because we cannot document the exact date of its founding, we say "prior to 1710". We do know, however, that, except for the First Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia, we are the oldest Presbyterian congregation in Pennsylvania.

At first the settlers met in the woods and fields and in private homes; then on October 10, 1714 organized themselves into a congregation. Not long thereafter James Parry, who owned a parcel of land on Swedesford Road in Tredyffrin Township, died. He willed three acres of land to "The Society of Dissenting Christians Known as Presbyterians". (This summer we had a visit from Mr. David Parry, and he gave us a copy of the will of James Parry.) Over the years we have acquired additional land; some of it we purchased and some was donated. We now own about 10 acres.

In 1720 the congregation erected a log church in what is now the oldest part of the cemetery. The members of the congregation contributed the labor and most of the material. Since there was no heat, the women heated blocks of wood or stone to warm their hands and feet. But the log church must have been well constructed, because it was used for 73 years. For some time we did not know exactly where it was located; then we learned that Thomas Hutchinson, a former elder, had asked to be buried under the spot where the pulpit stood in the log church. Since we know where he is buried, we were able to locate the site of the original sanctuary.

So far as we know, the oldest grave in the cemetery is that of Elizabeth Morris. She died on October 10, 1732, at the age of 20.

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An interesting tombstone is that of Dr. William Latta. It is in the shape of a pulpit. Dr. Latta ministered to the congregation for 47 1/2 years, his only pastorate and the longest of our 20 pastors. Of course, he travelled by horseback -- and the name of his horse was "Orthodox". He died in 1847, and is one of five former ministers buried at Great Valley.

Following the Revolutionary War the state governments moved to give legal status to churches other than the Church of England, and on November 22, 1788 the church was incorporated as "The Presbyterian Congregation of Tredyffrin". It is still our official name when it comes to legal documents, bank accounts, etc.

By 1793 the congregation was outgrowing the log building, and a decision was made to build "a church of stone" on the site of the present sanctuary. The cornerstone was laid on May 20, 1793, the same day that President George Washington laid the cornerstone for the Capitol building in Washington, D. C. All labor and materials, except the roof shingles, for the new church building were donated, and the cost of the purchased materials was $860. This building was completed in 1794, enlarged in 1861, and remodeled in 1873.

After another 16 years, when bids for another remodeling project were received, it was discovered that building an entirely new church building would not cost much more than remodeling, so the second church was torn down in 1889 and the present sanctuary of blue limestone was erected on the same site, at a cost of approximately $11,000. It was dedicated on May 8, 1890, with Pennsylvania Governor James Beaver present. (He was a personal friend of the pastor, Dr. Robert M. Patterson.)

The "upping block" constructed in 1794 still stands, and we used to have the buggy sheds which were originally built in 1832 and rebuilt and extended in 1885, but they were destroyed by fire on May 27, 1947.

Until 1931 our buildings consisted of the sanctuary and the chapel, which was originally called the "Session House". Between 1931 and 1980 five additions have been made, giving us our present facilities. The sanctuary and the chapel were connected; the men of the congregation excavated under the chapel to provide additional Sunday School classrooms; the Christian Education Building - for primary classes - was constructed on the site of the old buggy sheds; the sanctuary was enlarged, increasing its seating capacity from 275 to 560; and the chapel was connected to the Christian Education Building, providing a new library and more classrooms.

When the sanctuary was enlarged in the 1960s, it necessitated the moving of 90 graves. To do this we had to go through the courts, to give heirs and others the opportunity to object.

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(Fortunately there were no objections and the judge at the Chester County Courthouse granted permission to move the graves.) One of those moved was that of General John Davis, a Revolutionary War soldier. Our pastor at the time was disappointed that no sword was found with his remains.

One of our ministers, a man who was also gifted musically, was Dr. Arthur Willis Spooner, who was with us from 1918 to 1930. His daughter Victoria told the following story about her father. One of Dr. Spooner's dreams was to have a bell in the church steeple, and one Sunday, before pronouncing the benediction, he asked two men to go to the Sunday School room, bring in the blackboard, and place it on the platform. Then he presented his project, and announced, "Before you leave the church we shall get the pledges for this bell." Illustrating on the blackboard, he showed how this could be done. Then he said, "You all know what my salary is. I can't afford to give much, but how many of you will equal my pledge of $100.00?" (Victoria said that at this point her mother almost swooned -- $100.00 was a lot of money at that time.) The church members were not happy with Dr. Spooner's being so "pushy", but before they left church all the money was subscribed, and after the bell was installed, everyone was very proud of it. The bell weighed 2000 pounds, and cost $2800. At the dedication of it on January 2, 1927 a male quartet sang "Hark, Hark the Bell", which was composed for the occasion by Dr. Spooner. And the bell still rings every Sunday morning. Dr. Spooner also wrote a hymn for Great Valley Presbyterian Church, called "Dear Old Valley Church".

Our present pastor is Rev. Richard Norman Merritt. Our membership is about 475, and attendance each week at Sunday School averages 250.

Great Valley is an evangelical church and contributes to the support of over 40 missionaries around the world. We also provide financial help to a number of mission outreach organizations in this country.

As one of our former pastors described us, we are "An historic church exalting the historic message".


Mount Zion A. M. E. Church

Rev. Thomas A. Jackmon Assistant Minister

Back in the year 1849, or somewhere around that time, a group of faithful people in our area felt they needed a place to come to for worship, to be located somewhere around the area of Centreville. (Some people at that time called it Stumptown.)

Beginning with cottage prayer meetings in a little small building, the home of Sarah and Henry Roach in Hammer Hollow, they began to congregate to praise the Lord. The Rev. Nelson Hughes, a local preacher, became the first minister to conduct services there.

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After a few years they moved to their present location in Devon, at the corner of Berwyn-Baptist and Fairfield roads. [It is across the road from the present Arbordeau condominium.]

An indenture for the purchase of the land at this location was signed on "the thirtieth of January in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty-six", between Jonathan Lewis, of Tredyffrin Township, Chester County, of the one part, and Henry Roach, Moses Crooks, and Lewis Draper, all of Chester County, of the other part, as Trustees for the new church. The purchase price was $50.00.

Among the faithful founders were Henry and Sarah Roach, Moses Crooks, Lewis Draper, Hector and Julia Mullen, Jane Crumbles, Nelson and Liza Hughes, Simon and Binie Tittle, Mary Ann McClane, James and Elizabeth Hitchens, Eric Brown, Benjamin Ross, the Van Leers, the Johnsons, the Gloscoms, the Dills, the Boggs, the Hippies, and Henry and Sarah Jacobs.

THe church building was begun during the pastorate of Rev. Nelson Hughes and was continued under that of Rev. Charles W. Boardley, but the work then ceased because of the Civil War. After the war ended, and peace was declared, we came back to build -- in an entirely new atmosphere. The work was completed during the pastorate of Rev. W. H. Davis.

At about the turn of the century, under Rev. Elijah Byrd, the church was rebuilt, and he changed the entrance to the present side. (You can still see where the entrance used to be, on the other side, exiting on Berwyn-Baptist Road and entering on the Fairfield Road side.)

Not long afterwards, Rev. Charles Fareira raised $500 to build a new parsonage, which we still have, located over on Maple Avenue in Berwyn.

At some point in our history our people decided that they needed to belong to a parent organization, to a church that could provide them with a better foundation. Some of you may not know the history of the A. M. E. Church, so I would like to give you a brief history of it. It will help you understand who we are, where we are, and how we are right now.

"A. M. E." stands for "African Methodist Episcopal". Some time back in the late 1700s Rev. Richard Allen and Rev. Absalom Jones were worshipping at St. George's Methodist Church in the city of Philadelphia, somewhere in the neighborhood of 4th and Spring Garden streets. They preached on Sundays, and the people got a big spiritual uplift from these spiritually minded men. In those days they usually spoke extemporaneously, and they would pray extemporaneously. On one particular Sunday morning they were on their knees praying -- you can picture these black men and black women praying on their knees and all the rest of the congregation is white -- and at that point one of the deacons came over to Richard Allen and Absalom Jones and said, "I'm sorry, but you cannot pray on your knees. If you're going to pray on your knees you must get up and you must leave. Other than that, go up into the balcony."

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And Rev. Allen replied, "Very well, sir, but we are going to stay here until we finish our prayers on our knees. And after we have finished praying we are walking out." They left St. George's that afternoon.

Richard Allen then went on to found his own church, which he called the African Methodist Church, and thus the separation of Methodism and African Methodism. Mt. Zion became a part of the Centreville Circuit of the A. M. E. Church, which comprised Phoenixville, Centreville, and Valley Hill.

And that is where we are today. We are of the Methodist faith. Reference was made earlier to sprinkling and not sprinkling. We sprinkle, pour, and submerge! It doesn't matter how much water you have on you; what matters is how clean you come up. That cleanliness is what is really important, and that cleanliness is of the heart. And that is really where we try to come from.

As we journey through the years of our little church in Devon, a number of changes have been made. Many pastors came to our church. (We can't say we've had only thirty-one pastors over the years -- our pastors may be changed within six months, and therefore there have been perhaps hundreds of pastors who have come to our church in these many years.) And, of course, there has been renovation after renovation -- new floors and carpeting, new heating systems, new pews and furniture, repainting, new kitchen facilities, and so on -- to the old building.

To make a long story short, back around 1976 or 1977 we were having our tent revival, which we have from year to year, and while we were there our people had a vision. In this vision they saw that the old edifice no longer could fit the needs of our community and our church. So the dream came about that we needed to build a new building, a building that not only would suffice for our worship, but would encourage the neighborhood, particularly the black community, to come in and be a part of us. There really was no place for us to go to, to hold our banquets and things like that; we needed this type of facility for many things and to use as an educational institution.

And our dream came true. In the year 1991, on May 11th to be more precise, we had a dedication service and laid the cornerstone for a new church building, adjacent to the old building. (I'm very happy that I was able to act with the Grand Master of the Masons on that occasion to lay the cornerstone. It gave me personally the opportunity to participate in this particular endeavor.)

And so now we are worshipping in our new church, still praying on our knees. The old church building which served us for so many years is now used as a chapel for weddings and funerals and other occasions, and our new building gives us the opportunity to be a part of the entire community. We hope you will visit us.

May God bless you.

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St. Peter's Church in the Great Valley

Jeff Groff Chairman of the Historic Commission

St. Peter's Church in the Great Valley has had a fascinating history, with periods of large congregations and bustling parish life, such as in the 1750s or today, balanced with eras when the Church actually closed, such as from 1895 to 1899.

The church began in about 1700 and, along with St. Davids in Radnor, became a mission of the Venerable Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. (From the English point of view, this was a "foreign part" at that time.)

The earliest burial in our churchyard dates back to 1703. Tradition suggests that a log church was built in 1715. By 1744 the Parish had grown large enough to warrant a more permanent church building, and a relatively simple stone building with a compass or arched ceiling (curved to suggest the sky) was built, based on English and Welsh precedents. Light in this building was very important, and large rounded arch windows let the congregation look out across fields and farms of the valley while they let light, or perhaps enlightenment, in.

This was a prosperous community of farmers and millers and by 1749 thirty-two individuals had purchased pews in the church, indicating their wealth and position. Each boxed pew was then furnished with cushions and prayer books and comforts of their own choosing.

In 1750 a second floor gallery was added to accommodate more people. John Wayne (not the actor, but a cabinetmaker and carpenter) created an interior with a large altar table with a pewter communion set on a white linen table cloth, and built a pulpit and clerk's desk which were located to one side. Tablets with the Ten Commandments probably hung to either side of the large arched window at the front of the church. St. Peter's was a social center as well as a spiritual one, and parishioners spent a good part of their Sabbath there for two different services.

From 1737 to 1785 Parson William Currie, a Scotsman, was the incumbent missionary, dividing his time between St. Peter's and St. Davids in Radnor, ministering to a congregation which was largely Welsh. His house, which is now known as Stirling's Quarters in Valley Forge National Park, served as a rectory. Currie's loyalty to Church and King during the Revolutionary War did not endear him to local patriots! Although his last payment from the Venerable Society did not come until 1785, he had really stopped preaching in about 1776, at the beginning of the war.

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In 1786 St. Peter's was incorporated in Pennsylvania and granted a charter. Two years later its first full-time rector was elected.

By the 1830s an evangelical spirit in the Episcopal Church led to a shift in focus and the pulpit was now moved front and center and dominated the church. The sermon became more important in many cases than the liturgy. At the same time, the church building was modernized, with squared-off windows that reflected the then-current Greek Revival style. A stove was added to provide some warmth.

Over the next few decades St. Peter's went through several mergers and splits with other churches in the area while it worked hard to maintain its parish.

In 1856 the church expanded, and a certain Victorian richness entered, with bright fabrics and technological comforts. Man-made improvements and needs became more important than the natural world, and the Vestry wing at the front of the church blocked out the great arched window and view across the valley. In a sense, it seemed that the distraction of the out-of-doors was an intrusion. Why did they need the light outside when they had the light of the word before them? Large panes of sheet glass replaced the old colonial windows, but curtains or blinds usually covered them.

In the subsequent decades new people of prominence in the community introduced fashionable, high church elements: a new baptismal font, a cross on the altar, flowers, candles, ecclesiastical symbols, and the music of a melodeon. Despite this, the parish diminished, as people moved more to the Presbyterian and Methodist churches, or to Episcopal churches with buildings in the more fashionable Gothic or Romanesque styles. In 1895 St. Peter's shut its doors, and it remained empty for four years.

In a sense it was history that saved St. Peter's. A new interest in the colonial style in the early 1900s helped revive this church as an appealing place of worship. A new Parish Hall was designed in the colonial manner by a young architect named Brognard Okie, and a revived Sunday School helped St. Peter's again begin to grow. In 1913 the first History Day attracted visitors from around the area. Associations with the 1700s, the burial of Revolutionary War soldiers in the graveyard, and the reported use of St. Peter's as a Revolutionary era hospital, all enhanced its appeal. Soon people of all faiths who had an interest in history and colonial design were visiting St. Peter's along with other historic sites in Valley Forge.

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By the 1930s many people in the area were restoring old farmhouses or mill-owners' houses as attractive country homes. Country sports, such as fox hunting (St. Peter's began a "blessing of the hounds" ceremony in 1948), and a new interest in farming and livestock breeding, were attracting a new group of people to the valley. Many found St. Peter's special. But the Victorian changes, along with years of what we would now call "deferred maintenance", had taken their toll.

In 1944 restoration began, with Brognard Okie, now a much admired restoration architect, again in charge. He sensitively returned St. Peter's to a colonial appearance. Once again the church, which for years had had its pebble dash stucco painted a dingy brown, became clean and white. Simplicity, harmony, and the beauty of the early craftman's lines, became the guides to the restoration. Under the rectorship of Jordan Guenther, St. Peter's again came alive. In 1952 a new Parish House was completed as the parish continued to grow.

Today we are thriving, under the rectorship of Frank Harron and a strong group of lay leaders. A 1989 addition by John Milner has absorbed some of this growth, but each week we happily welcome new faces.

I think St. Peter's today blends the past with a concern for the present, and for the future in a happy medley.


Valley Friends Monthly Meeting

Jean E. Kadyk Clerk

The Minute Books of Radnor Monthly Meeting contain this entry, dated January 11, 1713: "The Friends inhabiting about Perquaming [or Perkiomen] and this side Schuylkill in ye valley being desirous yt a Mtg. might be allowed ... In Every other Mo. to be and begin att Lewis Walker House ye first First day in ye 2nd month next and thence Every other month at Joseph Richardson House until ye ninth month next."

Thus was the vision of our founder, Lewis Walker, the first settler of Tredyffrin, brought into focus. Meeting for Worship continued as recorded above until 1730, when the first Meeting House was planned. It was completed in 1731, at which time Meeting for Worship was held there. It was probably made of logs, and it remained in the southeast corner of the present Burial Grounds for many years.

This original Meeting House was also used as a hospital for the sick and wounded soldiers of General Washington's troops while quartered at Valley Forge. The Friends treated these men with compassion and gave as generously as possible of food, medical supplies, warm clothing and blankets. Later General Washington observed that before he arrived at Valley Forge he had looked upon the Friends as sympathizers with the British, but during the winter of 1777/1778 he found them to be extraordinarily kind and completely reliable.

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One hundred and forty years after the first Meeting House had been built, Valley Preparative Meeting, still under the care of Radnor Monthly Meeting began a series of Sunday afternoon meetings. As the meetings became increasingly successful, it was apparent that the old Meeting House was too small for the crowds, and too cold in the winter. The Friends decided to build a new Meeting House.

The site for the new building, in which we are meeting today, was bought for $100.00. A two-story building was constructed and the old Meeting House was later torn down. It took only a year to construct the new building, and it was opened for worship on April 23, 1872, all at a cost of a little over $9500. The carriage sheds remaining can be seen at the back of this Meeting House, and similar sheds at one time extended along the north border of the property.

A Minute from Philadelphia Quarterly Meeting, dated February 7, 1871, records the beginning of further use of the Meeting House, as a place to hold its summer meetings in August -- a wonderful gathering of Friends, making their way up Meeting House Lane, now known as Old Eagle School Road, then a dirt road, directing horse and carriage onto the Meeting House Grounds.

This new Meeting House was divided by a moveable petition, which allowed the men and women, at certain times, to hold their separate business and worship meetings. This arrangement followed faithfully the belief of Friends -- then and now -- that men and women are equal in the sight of God. The original machinery used to raise and lower these partitions remains stored in the attic of the Meeting House.

Three years after this Meeting House was opened, an elementary school was established. A teacher was employed for $50 a month. In September of 1875, the school opened with 25 pupils. Tuition was $25 for the 10-month term, with an additional fee of $10 for instruction in Latin. The school remained open for ten years, and then was discontinued because of a lack of students. Seventy years later, in 1955, the Valley Cooperative PreSchool was opened in the Meeting House. Today we continue to welcome this successful venture, which is now under the leadership of a young woman who is also a member of Valley Meeting and is working with our former director, who gave 35 years of remarkable and inspired teaching to many little children.

Valley Preparative Meeting became a Monthly Meeting in the late 1930s, thus becoming independent of Radnor Monthly Meeting. This important step enabled the Meeting to have oversight of both Meetings for Worship for the conduct of weddings, and Memorial Meetings of Worship in time of death.

To speak further of historical details and interesting related stories would take much longer than our time together today permits.

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To study the history of this Meeting in more detail I would respectfully suggest that you visit the wonderful Quaker collections at Swarthmore College and Haverford College. A more immediate source of information can be found in the Historical Albums of the Valley Preparative and Monthly Meetings. Through portraits that have been collected and accompanying biographical sketches you will become acquainted with those dear and treasured Friends who nourished the spirit of Valley Meeting through earthly labors and helped, in more ways than I could possibly say, to bring us to this present day.

Now, 280 years later, we are stronger than ever. Almost all our nearby members and attenders are involved in important committee work so vital to the continuing life of Valley Monthly Meeting. As a Meeting Family, we continue to concern ourselves, as did yesteryear Friends, with the plight of those less fortunate. We are committed, as the Light is given to each person, to ways and means of promoting peace and harmony among humankind - in our community, abroad, and, most importantly, within the bonds of our own families.

The historical and the spiritual aspects of this day seem naturally intertwined, and I will close with these lines, written by the Quaker poet, John Greenleaf Whittier:

And so I find it well to come
For deeper rest to this still room,
For here the habit of the soul
Feels less the outer world's control;
The strength of mutual purpose pleads
More earnestly our common needs;
And from the silence multiplied
By these still forms on either side
The world that time and space have known
Falls off and leaves us, God alone.


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