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Spiritual DNA considered at ELHS program

By Staff | Feb 25, 2015

(Left to right): Thomas Secules, Larry Waltz and Mary Gray share findings and opinions on the subject of Spiritual DNA as presented by Waltz at a meeting of the East Lycoming Historical Society.       

HUGHESVILLE – In humans, the discovery of DNA has resulted in linking persons with continents of origin while test results often prove family relationships. Such tests are being used in the television production of The Genealogy Road show.

Speaking to attendees during the East Lycoming Historical Society on February 16, the Reverend Larry Waltz took the idea of DNA to another level by suggesting humans also have a spiritual DNA. “Regardless of rather or not you’re currently churched, our spiritual DNA defines who we are. Just as the skills and interests of our ancestors are often replicated, so too is our religious faith,” proposed Waltz.

To accentuate the presentation, maps of Ireland, England, Germany and France were displayed. Reformations occurred in Germany and France, as well as in England. “It was 1517 when Martin Luther became a dissident when listing his changes. A novel idea was instead of reading the scriptures to the people, give them a Bible and let them read it for themselves.”

The map of Ireland was used to explain the conversion of Englishman William Penn. Pennsylvania’s future founder traveled to Ireland to oversee family owned property there when he encountered those of the Quaker faith. “Penn was impressed with the Quaker’s simplicity of service to humanity,” Waltz said. As Penn encountered those dealing with religious persecution, he invited them to join him in America where all could worship as they saw fit.

“We are as diverse in human makeup as in our spiritual make up,” Waltz said. When sharing his personal lineage, he listed 16 denominations beginning with the Roman Catholic Church and ending with the Dunkards and American Baptist, two major parts of his spiritual DNA.

Waltz, a retired Baptist minister, descends from one of the first families who in 1805 traveled from Philadelphia and settled in a semi-communal setting on 477 acres in Eldred Township. “It was May when the group arrived in Lycoming County. As they stood at the precipice of the hill overlooking the valley, the dogwoods were in bloom, and so they named their new home ‘Blooming Grove’,” the speaker said.

The Dunkards established seven daughter churches and the main log meeting house built in 1830 saw its last minister in 1872. Currently the log structure and a stone building house the Blooming Grove Historical Society of which Waltz is currently president.

Waltz writes and continues his research on the Dunkard’s participation in the Underground Railroad. Although the Dunkards originated in Germany and the Quakers in England, the two have strong similarities. Both believe in the equality of man and were peaceable peoples. The Quakers have long been chronicled as aiding slaves fleeing to the North. Delving into the Dunkards history is bringing forth new insights of the same.

Waltz applauds the varieties of denominations saying “Diversity of thought can make us stronger.” During encounters with those of faith, he says he’s found, “Spiritual nourishment comes from the inside out.”

Thomas Secules of Hughesville, an attendee at the meeting said, “I’m a lifelong Lutheran as were my parents. I can identify myself with the Blooming Gove Dunkard’s being a descendant of early families including Eck, Heim and Shaffer.” Secules is cantor and member of the choir at Trinity Lutheran Church, Hughesville.