Interchange – Fall 2009

It All Came Home to Hopewell This 275th Year

Hopewell Centre Meeting’s Homecoming, this year in conjunction with our 275th Anniversary, was a resounding success. Old friends arrived from as far away as California and Phoenix. Members of the BYM family came to visit, including Adelphi, Washington, DC, and Shepherdstown Meetings. And members of the Bahá’í community from Winchester and Woodstock joined us for the celebration.

In our Clear Brook Meeting House filled with nearly 100 worshippers we held Meeting for Worship, followed by a sharing of memories of Homecomings past. Becky Ebert, Clerk of Advancement & Outreach, led us off with a retelling of our Meeting’s founding by Quakers who came from Hopewell in Lancaster County, PA in 1734. Jim Riley shared recently found historical treasures, including a certificate of his parents’ – Virginia and Leonard Riley –marriage witnessed at Hopewell in 1940. Maggie Stetler read Martha Walker Lupton Sheetz’s poem “Homecoming,” written in 1966. Others recalled childhood memories and once again, we reminisced about the neighboring bull who serenaded many of our Silences on First Day. We concluded with our own joyous songs.

On hand for visitors to enjoy were A&O’s creative displays illustrating our Meeting’s history in the Valley; members’ crafts, including Bob Pidgeon’s unique Opequon Creek clay mugs and Margie Lancaster’s colorful, contemporary quilts; Dick Bell’s delightful memoir/history piece commemorating our 275th Anniversary; and reprinted paperback copies of Hopewell Friends History, 1734-1934, Frederick County, Virginia. (To order copies, contact Jim Riley at

Hopewell’s now legendary potluck lunch was served up at noon. Two standouts on the menu were a replica of Elder Pansy Estep’s (not present) yummy Caramel Cake; and the juicy, beefy “Pansy’s Tomatoes,” planted and harvested by Mary Riley this season from vintage seeds Pansy had given to her years ago. The day blessed us with fair weather and we sat beneath spreading shade trees to break bread, catch up with old friends and get to know new ones.

As festivities drew to a close, the day was made perfect as we listened to the spiritual sounds of Chilean guitarist Ali Youssefi and violinist Pam Hill from Charlottesville, VA. This concert was a gift to us from the Bahá’ís and we can’t thank them enough. The presence of the Bahá’ís on this special day during Worship speaks, as Bahá’í Sallie Grundman put it, to the “profound truth that there is one God, one religion, and that we are all One.”

In this same spirit, in October, we will again reach out to the community with a series of four Wednesday evening “open dialogues” in which we will share with seekers what is like to be a Quaker in the 21st Century.

We close with a thank-you note from a Bahá’í guest Donna Burton who best sums up the day: What a beautiful worship and fellowship you and your Quaker community so kindly shared with us today as you celebrate your 275th Anniversary here in the Valley! I felt privileged to be there amidst such love and joy.

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