First Church of the Brethren in Roaring Spring was born 100 years ago with the determination of members who had a vision and were willing to work to make it reality.
The 200-member congregation will reflect on that determination when they celebrate its beginnings this weekend.
The church was the vision of a group of women who would not be dissuaded from building a church in the early 1900.
(Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec) First Church of the Brethren in Roaring Spring will celebrate its 100th anniversary this weekend. Linda Steele (left) and Betsy Garach are dressed in clothes women would have worn to church in 1910. With them is Pastor Joe Surin
Anniversary committee member Linda Steele said the is church a spinoff from the Albright Church of the Brethren which was one of several churches that has its roots in the Clover Creek Church of the Brethren, established in 1790.
The Albright church, up the hill from Roaring Spring, proved a long, difficult walk for families living in the community, Steele said, and some members wanted to build a new place to worship
When property on the Lower Farm became available, the men of the church rejected the idea because of the expense, the belief that the location would be difficult to reach in winter, and concern that the Albright congregation might be offended, she said.
Determined, the women decided to raise the money for the structure themselves when nine members of the Sisters Sewing Society met May 1, 1903, in Daniel and Susan Replogle's home.
The women made and sold bonnets, prayer coverings, quilts and aprons. They sold vanilla and took in sewing.
Their diligence resulted in enough money to buy two lots costing $250 each from the Lower family in 1908, Steele said.
On Oct. 5, 1910, the lots were turned over to the church body for a dollar.
Despite the fact the women did not have the right to vote and also had little say in church matters, they persuaded the men to build the church.
"I think they were just very strong-willed women," Steele said. "They offered to buy the ground and turn it over to the men, and told them 'the rest is up to you.'"
She said that Susan Replogle, who was her great-grandmother, was influential for the time. She was a midwife, knew about politics and taught women to sew. When the new church was formed, she became a deaconess.
"It's likely that she had some clout, in spite of being female," she said.
The finished building was dedicated Oct. 30, 1910. It consisted of a sanctuary, large Sunday school room and Ladies' Aid Society room. It was 62 feet by 66 feet, heated by steam and cost $9,000. C.C. Ellis from Juniata College gave the sermon.
Those beginnings will be commemorated at the church this weekend.
"'Sew' Be It," a play telling the story of the church's start, will be performed at 7 p.m. Saturday. It was written by former church member Dona Kensington for the church's 75th anniversary.
Doors will open at 6 p.m. with memorabilia, such as quilts made by the Ladies' Aid Society, children's projects and a scrapbook about the founding families, on display. Hymns and secular music from the 1900s will be played and the children's choir will sing at 6:45 p.m.
The celebration will culminate at 10 a.m. Sunday with a service led by Robert Ness, director of resource development at The Village of Morrisons Cove and past president of Juniata College.
A dinner will be held at noon with an organ recital by former church member David Dodson at 1:30 p.m.
A service of music and remembrance featuring former pastors and three people who were licensed to preach by the church will be held at 2 p.m.
The Rev. Joe Surin, pastor of First Brethren, said Albright Church will move its service to First Church of the Brethren Sunday.
Surin, who has been at the church since August, said he is honored to be a part of such a special time in the church's life.
"It's just so neat to come into a church that has so much rich heritage and does so well bringing the past into the present as we look forward to the future," he said.