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An updated look for candlelight service at Quaker Meeting House

By Staff | Dec 2, 2014

The exterior of the Pennsdale Meeting House had some restoration work done this year due to a grant from the Margaret Waldron Foundation. All of the woodwork had to be repainted and three windows replaced.

PENNSDALE – The public was more than welcome when the Quaker Meeting House in Pennsdale opened its doors on Sunday, November 23 to showcase its upgrade and extensive restoration process that took almost a year to complete.

The project was underwritten by the Margaret Waldron Fund of the First Community Foundation Partnership and supported by the members of the community and Friends of the Pennsdale Monthly Meeting.

The place of worship and meditation for Quakers was originally built in 1799. However, it was once a log house built in 1784 and the meeting house on site has been the oldest place of continuing worship in Lycoming County.

The open house was held from 1 to 3 p.m. and during that time some of the members were explaining the restoration process, while featured guest speaker, Glen Retief, a Quaker member, retold some interesting folk tales of growing up in a large wildlife preservation in a South African village. He is a published author and director of the Susquehanna University’s creative writing program.

Pat Martin, from Muncy and a Pennsdale Friends Meeting member explained how the original walls and ceiling were re-plastered using chicken wire, and for the first time the original hardwood floors were re-sanded and new varnish applied to give them a nice clean, polished look. Woodwork was painted on the exterior, and some wooden beams were reinforced in the attic. “A lot of the woodwork had to be repaired and three windows needed replaced,” said Martin, pointing to one of the upper windows. “It took about two months just to do the plastering,” she added. Most of the work was completed in June when the grant was awarded. “We got a lot done in a year.” Projects were prioritized and estimates given for each part. Painting the exterior took up the most time according to Martin, especially the window frames and the porch.

While serving refreshments, Pat Martin from Muncy showed guests the new restoration projects at the Quaker Meeting House in Pennsdale during their open house on Nov. 23.

A new graveled driveway was also put in; and an old maple tree had to be removed in the back northwest corner of the cemetery because it was becoming unsafe. Its roots were disturbing the adjacent burials.

All work was professionally done by local contractors according to Martin and came to a total of $56,000. The grant provided them with $25,000 and the rest had to be matched. Many of the adult members also contributed. Most of the maintenance is done by the members.

Karen Frock, another member, was requesting donations to help other organizations for their service such as the Son-Light House, Shepherd of the Streets, and the Muncy Township Fire Company. “They do so much for our community, we want to raise money for these local causes,” replied Frock. “The fire company just purchased a new response vehicle that is important for our safety.”

“Most of this work and the donations were more than expected,” Frock added. “It enlarged our scope of work. The foundation has always been there.”

The Quaker Meeting House is open every Sunday morning for worship from 11 to 12. Occasionally there are pot luck socials held throughout the year.

Glen Retief, a native of South Africa and a member of the Pennsdale Quaker Meeting House gave a lively talk on folklore during their open house. Many of the original benches and the hardwood floors were completely refurbished this year for the first time.

An annual candlelight service is scheduled for Sunday, December 21st at 8 p.m. It is held every year on the Sunday before Christmas. It is always open to the community where both secular and traditional carols are enjoyed for a sing-a-long. There is also a reading of “The Night Before Christmas” and the Christmas story is read from the Bible. Cookies and cider will be served afterwards. “Everyone gets a lit candle during the service,” said Martin.