Wednesday, June 9, 1999 Local News Osawatomie Graphic 9-A

Among Friends

[picture of people eating stew]

Celebrating Quaker History

The fare was stew and biscuits and the entertainment was fellowship and history when Spring Grove Friends Church celebrated its 140th anniversary. Charlie Hay, 95, of Lane, foreground, was the oldest member of the church attending the celebration. Seated beside him were Stacy Murrow, center, and Frances Smith.

Spring Grove Friends Church marks 140 years of faith and fellowship

Osawatomie Graphic

Sunday's rains did not deter crowds from gathering at the Spring Grove Friends Church east of Lane to celebrate 140 years of history. "A History of Friendship" coincided with the church's yearly meeting, and about 150 (actually 100) people joined in fun, food, worship and song.

The morning worship began with a quiet time of open worship. Congregation members, dressed as early Quaker settlers, re-created a period service and relayed events from the church's inception in the mid-1850s. In mid morning, A first day school (Sunday School) was held. Children's lessons about creation were given by Mike Herriges. The children's choir was led by Jerilyn James-Herriges. J. C. James presented a Bible lesson about Daniel and the Lion('s den). Fallon Fitzwater read from the memoirs of a young Quaker abolitionist.

At 10:45 a.m., the sanctuary of the 1877 white frame church was filled to the brim for morning services. Several traditional songs were sung, including All Hail to the Power of Jesus, I Love to Tell the Story, and How Firm a Foundation. Mary Ellis provided accompaniment on the piano. A round was sung, successfully, by the entire gathering.

Ferne Cook, former pastor of Spring Grove preached about the power of God's promises, and reminisced about her 10 years at Spring Grove during the 1940s and 50s.

A beef stew was cooked outside on an open fire and guests were treated to a plentiful variety of desserts. Outdoor games and recreation were cancelled due to the weather, but the crowd took advantage of the time to reacquaint themselves with old friends and relatives.

Gene (Eugene) and Jeremy White of Osawatomie, accompanied by Hollis Hunt, picked up the pace in the early afternoon with their banjoes, guitars, and gospel music, and the sanctuary was filled with clapping and singing.

Five speakers provided a rich background of Quaker history, particularly that of Spring Grove. June Worden, former pastor from 1968 to 1984, relayed her fondness for Spring Grove Church and community. She was pastor when the parsonage was struck by lightning and burned.

Gary Damron, pastor of Willow Creek Friends Church in Kansas City, Mo. told of the Friends Missionary Establishment among the Shawnee Indians. The mission was located in what is now Merriam and Shawnee, and took an active role in providing training for skills the relocated Indian tribes would need for the transition to white society.

Timothy Westcott, Baker University history professor, has been studying the history of the Spring Grove Church and its role in Underground Railroad activity. Westcott described the contributions described the contributions of Richard Mendenhall, founder of Spring Grove.

Maryanna Diehm Williams was an active member of the church as a young woman, and gave a moving account of her ties to the Spring Grove community. She told of walking to the church from her home a mile north, and of the generous kindness shown her by the community.

Fred Leimkuhler, Quaker historian, recounted the Quakers influx into Kansas, and spoke of the Quaker's single-minded concern for the Shawnee Indians. Leimkuhler entertained the group with witticisms, and closed with a verse from John, "What manner of love is this, that he calls us the children of God?"

After the formal speakers, visitors were invited to speak, and Beth Shapiro Williams, former pastor from 1983 to 1994, spoke to the group about personal growth, the value of silence, and obedience to God. After her time at Spring Grove, Williams and her husband used their musical abilities in ministry, and she now works with nature photography to support missionary work.

The meeting closed with the singing of a song, The Little White Church on the Hill, written by Blanche Hay for the 60th anniversary of the church, sung to the tune of The Church in the Wildwood.

Captions for other photos:

[photo of Annie Brandt and cat in hay pile]

The kitty and the kid

Two friends attending the Spring Grove Friends Church anniversary celebration found a snug spot in the hay Sunday. Six-year-old Amanda (actually Annie) Brandt, dressed in Quaker Garb, peered out from a stack of hay while her cat stretched out for a rest. Amanda (Annie) is a daughter of the Rev. and Mrs. Forrest Brandt. He is the pastor of the church.

[Winona Morris holding a basket of biscuits covered in a white cloth]

Dressed in the attire of early Quaker women, Winona Morris of Osawatomie helped serve the noon meal Sunday.  |  |  Site Map