PHILIPSBURG – A grand Philipsburg tradition will be continued at the old Union Church (Mud Church) on Sunday, May 27 at 2 p.m., with military honors and a memorial service for all veterans.
The service is especially held for those veterans from the Revolutionary and Civil War who are buried in the Union Churchyard.
Participation of the American Legion Honor Guard, the local Boy Scouts and the Civil War Re-enactors from the 148th Regiment will guarantee a colorful ceremony.
Following rifle salutes and laying of wreaths by these groups, the ceremonies will move inside the church for an ecumenical memorial service sponsored by the Philipsburg Ministerium and the Philipsburg Historical Foundation.
“We had so much success with this service last year and so much participation from our local citizens, that we want to make it even better this year,” says Allen Webster, commander of the Philipsburg American Legion, who has spearheaded planning for the event.
The Boy Scouts will participate in the wreath laying this year, and we will have special saxophone solos by Tyler Dixon, who is really a wizard on this instrument.”
“In reviving the old Memorial services last year, we were really gratified by the response,” says Philipsburg mayor John Streno, who will be in Civil War uniform as one of the 148th re-enactors.
“There are 12 Civil War veterans buried in the Union churchyard, and one Revolutionary War veteran, John Gearhart.
“One Civil War soldier, William Gearhart, died of starvation in the Confederate prison camp at Salisbury, N.C., and is buried in Salisbury, but his family erected a monument to his memory here.
“We want to make sure that we can keep on honoring these veterans, and all veterans, at Philipsburg’s most sacred spot for many years to come.”
“These events give us a great chance to work on sprucing up the Mud Church and the churchyard, in anticipation of the 200th anniversary of the original log church in 2020,” says Philipsburg Historical Foundation President Mark Seinfelt.
“We recently had the hemlock trees in the churchyard treated to stop an infestation of wooly adelgid, and Brian Michaels of New Vibrations Audio in Forrest has reactivated the old church bell, which comes from the original Philips screw factory in Point Lookout.
“Dustin Fry of Morrisdale has cleaned and painted the entrance gate and railings, and Luther Gette has re-laid some of the bricks in the entrance walk and started some new flowerbeds.
“We still need some work on the Philips family monument, on the stone wall around the churchyard and on removal of several dead trees. We’re always looking for volunteers to help with these efforts.
“We want to emphasize that the Mud Church belongs to Philipsburg, and that any religious group is more than welcome to hold services there.”
“Any religious group” most definitely includes the Gearhartville Free Methodist Church, according to the Rev. Merry Kendall, associate pastor of the church, who has been involved in the memorial planning with the Philipsburg Ministerium.
“The Free Methodists were the last group to hold regular services in the Mud Church, in the early 1920’s, before building their own church.
“This is a pattern that has been repeated for most of the congregations in the Philipsburg area, and we need to remember where our roots lie, in this beautiful building that is dedicated to the use of all denominations.”
The Rev. Dr. Katie Hopper, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, will be preaching a sermon at the service in the church, and will also be singing the National Anthem at the beginning of ceremonies in the churchyard.
Other clergy involved will be the Rev. Ryan Parish of the First Church of Christ, and the Rev. Brenda Leigey of Trinity Methodist Church. All are welcome.
Following the services, there will be a lunch with homemade desserts at the American Legion Hall, corner of Presqueisle and North Centre streets. In case of rain, services will be held in the First Presbyterian Church, corner of Fifth and Presqueisle streets.