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Christmas by candlelight celebrated at the old Stone Church       

By Staff | Dec 21, 2016

CAROL SHETLER/The Luminary Sisters Samantha (left) and Elizabeth Mowery of Turbotville, noted the lighted manger scene and tree, part of the festive decorations prepared by volunteers of the Montgomery Area Historical Society. This was the group's 11th annual Christmas Candlelight service at the Stone Church. 

MONTGOMERY – The arrival of the Christmas season was never more evident than on Saturday, Dec. 17, when the Montgomery Area Historical Society (MAHS) hosted its annual candlelight service.

The massive Stone Church stood out in stark contrast to the new blanket of snow. During the afternoon, visitors came and went, viewing the building and being part of conversations sparked by memorabilia displays.

In the sanctuary, a lighted Christmas tree stood over a manger scene. Around the interior of the entire building, names adhered to stain glass windows gave evidence of those who had worshipped there more than a century ago.

Surnames such as Bastian, Decker, Harman, Hively, Jarrett, Hoffman, Simpler, and the Rev. A. E. Cooper could be seen as well as the names of the Sunday School teachers Mrs. John Pysher of Class No. 9, and Mrs. Emerson Hagenbuch of the infant class. One window was donated by ‘The Workmen of the Church.

Many paused to read the names stitched on 72 blocks of a signature quilt. Made in 1896 by friends of bride-to-be Emma Myrtle Every of Allenwood, each block featured embroidered flowers in pink.

CAROL SHETLER/The Luminary More than 150 persons attended the Christmas Candlelight service Sat. December 17 at the historic Stone Church near Montgomery. The service was preceded by an open house in which many visitors came and went.

In addition to the many friends from local towns, were those from faraway places such as Lizzie Hauck of Jamison City, and Anne Tobi and Margaret Ross of Philadelphia. The states of Vermont and Nebraska were among residences noted.

On March 20, 1896, Miss Everly became the bride of Charles Pysher. Attending the 2016 event was descendant Bill Kear of Watsontown, who shared that, “Before my great-grandmother’s untimely death, the couple had parented four children: John ‘LaRue’ and Keith Pysher, May Fox and my grandmother, Thelma Wagner.”

The quilt, on loan by the Muncy Historical Society, had been donated by the Pysher’s grandson, Richard Fox of Vermont.

The Candlelight service was ushered in by Steven Huddy who welcomed more than 150 persons in attendance. Referring to the congregation who celebrated Christmas 75 years ago, Huddy said, “Not a soul knew that five months later no residents would remain in the valley.” Their exodus was “the sacrifice of those not wearing a uniform.” The lands confiscated served as a place to make munitions for WWI before becoming a stockpile site.

The service consisted of nine lessons, prayer, singing and music. Under the direction of Pastor Viking Dietrich and Ms. Shirley Smith, participants were members of area congregations. Readers were Pastors Hobart Campbell, David Jacobs, Christopher Long and Larry Stout. Others were Kay Showers, Jennifer Bender and Melissa McGargle.

CAROL SHETLER/The Luminary Bill Kear of Watsontown with quilt made in 1896 for his great-grandmother, Emma Myrtle Everly of Allenwood. Seventy two blocks of flowers and signatures were embroidered for Everly's wedding to Charles Pysher.  

A vocal ensemble directed and accompanied by Smith included Ellen Bardo, Diane Bubb, Alexandra Buck, Bernadine Carr, Josh Childs, Rebecca Elkins, Wayne Gaver, Vicki and David Heberlig, Carol Hill, Kathleen Radspinner, Jarod and Mason Schreiber and Jackie Whitmoyer.

Instrumental solos included: “Angels We Have Heard on High” by David Herberlig on the trumpet; Bassoonist Wayne Gaver payed “Away in a Manger;” and “What Child is This “was by clarinetist Vicki Heberlig.

Since 2005, MAHS has hosted the Christmas Candlelight Service at the Stone Church. The 2016 event was dedicated to the memory of Charles E. “Butch” Stryker of Montgomery, 1955-2016. Stryker was a friend and treasurer of MAHS.