Throwback Thursday: Original Quaker Church in Penn Township

The Religious Society of Friends was, upon its formation, an English Christian denomination, founded by George Fox in the 17th century.

Its adherents soon became alienated from the established Church of England and in many cases suffered persecution for their beliefs.

The Friends were believed that every man and woman could find the inner light of Christ within themselves and lived lives of simplicity, sharing and non-violence.

They too often became the object of ridicule and were sarcastically called Quakers (one who quakes) because they were thought to fearful of the rough treatment they encountered.

Actually, Quakers had a steely fortitude when it came time to standing up to defend for their unique beliefs.

Pennsylvania, itself, began as a “Holy Experiment” with William Penn’s landing in the Philadelphia (city of brotherly love) in 1683.

Penn was an all but disowned English aristocrat who managed an “armada of believers” to seek a colony based on religious tolerance and humane treatment for all.

A congregation of Quaker/Friends arrived in the Grampian area in 1811 and proceeded to build a log meeting house that burned in 1847.

Those families cleared a burial ground, on a hill above Grampian that’s still in use as the Friend’s Cemetery today.  The wooden meeting house stood beside the cemetery.

Local Quakers lived their faith, day by day, even becoming involved with helping escaping slaves find their way northward on the clandestine trail that made its way through Clearfield County. Quakers detested slavery as sinful and immoral.

The meeting house doubled as a school and, on Sundays, Quakers would gather there for a traditional silent service where attendees sat in prayerful silence and meditation, until, feeling compelled by their inner light to speak to the congregation.

The photo shows a quaint building standing in simplicity and dignity.  The present Friends Meeting House, still known as the West Branch Society of Friends, is a neatly kept red brick building along Route 219 in Grampian.

The congregation, diverting somewhat from original Quaker tradition, is led by a pastor. The worship time is more structured with hymns, readings and sermons.

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