Happy Founders Day (Two Days Late!)

atlanticgarden.jpg“Monday, Jan, 12 [1874]. Mr. Benade, Frank Ballou, Walter C. Childs and myself lunched together today. Organized New Church Club by electing Mr. Benade President, W. C. Childs Secretary, and Frank Ballou Treasurer” (New Church Life 1917, 286).

500check.jpgThe lunch described in John Pitcairn’s diary took place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at the Atlantic Garden restaurant on Diamond Street (see photo above). During their lunchtime conversation, a suggestion was made “that those present form an organization, there and then, in order to begin a propaganda by means of the printed page, for a reformatory movement in the New Church” (New Church Life 1911, 189). In order to defray the cost of their proposed publication, John Pitcairn wrote a check for 500 dollars on January 14th, 1874 (see photo above). Their “New Church Club” formally became the Academy of the New Church on June 19th, 1876, but their historic lunch in 1874 came to be viewed as the true founding date of the Academy. (more…)

Early Academy Christmas and New Year Cards (1885-1892)

cardvaissiere.jpg“Beloved companions, fill glasses with wine,
Vive l’Academie!
And drink to our Union in uses Divine.
Vive l’Academie!” (New Church Life 1911, 202; first stanza of song).

An early Academy of the New Church song, “Vive l’Academie” (long live the Academy), was often sung at Academy gatherings in the 1890s and early 1900s (see New Church Life 1900, 445). This French phrase also appeared on Christmas and New Year cards exchanged between Academy members. Examples of cards containing the phrase appear in a collection of holiday cards (more…)

Bernice Stroh Sandstrom Nativity Set (c. 1937)

nativitysm1211.jpgThe first Nativity set made by Bernice Stroh Sandstrom (1910-2003) is in the New Church Collection of Glencairn Museum (see photos left and below, 10.XX.566A-I). Donated to the museum by her husband, the Rev. Erik Sandström, the set, consisting of eight handmade figures, was made by Mrs. Sandström for her family around the year 1937.

nativitybig1211.jpgShe went on to make more sets for her family over the years, as well as sets for many other families. These Nativity figures now feature prominently (more…)

Stained Glass Christmas Window by Lawrence Saint (1919)

christmaswindowsaint.jpgSince the early 1990s, Glencairn Museum has displayed a Lawrence Saint stained glass Christmas window during the Christmas season in Glencairn’s Upper Hall. This two-light four-panel window (see photo, left) was originally located in Bryn Athyn Cathedral, and was designed by Saint around the year 1919, when the main building of the Cathedral was dedicated.

Lawrence Bradford Saint (1885-1961), a stained glass artist known for his work on Washington’s National Cathedral, worked on the Bryn Athyn Cathedral project earlier in his career. During his time as a student at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, he won a Cresson Traveling Scholarship to Europe, where his fascination with and study of medieval stained glass began. He eventually produced a series of watercolor paintings of windows in French and English medieval churches, and was subsequently asked to provide the color plates for Hugh Arnold’s Stained Glass of the Middle Ages in England and France, published in 1913.

Saint operated his own stained glass studio in nearby Huntingdon Valley. In 1917 Raymond Pitcairn hired him to work on Bryn Athyn Cathedral, where he produced a number of windows. In 1922 Pitcairn sent Saint to England and France to make copies of medieval windows, including panels at Canterbury and Chartres Cathedral. He left the Bryn Athyn project to begin work on the National Cathedral in 1928.

shepherds.jpg presentation.jpg wisemen.jpg flight.jpg  

The four panels of the Christmas window depict the following scenes (pictured here left to right): (more…)

Nativity Scenes by Winfred S. Hyatt (1929)

representationsmall.jpg“After the service [Christmas Eve, 1929] the whole congregation filed out to the Choir Hall, where were three beautiful representations, modeled by Mr. Winfred Hyatt, and showing in the central scene the stable at the inn with the Holy Family and those who came to see and worship the Child, while on the one side was shown the angel giving his message to the shepherds, and on the other the wise men following the star through the desert. At one end of the room were tables loaded with stockings, so that each child received one well filled with good things” (New Church Life 1930, 189).

winfredhyatt.jpgWinfred S. Hyatt, the principal stained glass artist and designer for the Bryn Athyn Cathedral project and later Glencairn, made Nativity scenes for the Cathedral, the Raymond Pitcairn family, the Harold Pitcairn family, and President and Mrs. Eisenhower. The figures for all the scenes, with the exception of the Eisenhower scenes, were modeled by Hyatt, then cast in plaster, painted, and clothed. Hyatt was fully responsible for all the sets made, with help being provided by other craftsmen (more…)

Glencairn DVD Released This Week

glencairndvd.jpgThe long-anticipated Glencairn DVD will go on sale for the first time at the Bryn Athyn Craft Sale on Friday, November 16th. If you know someone who loves Glencairn or New Church history, this DVD may be the perfect Christmas gift. Embracing the Sacred: The Story of Glencairn Museum, a visually-rich 30-minute documentary film, has been nearly four years in the making. It is the product of extensive research and some impressive camera work.

choppersm.jpgMany residents of Bryn Athyn will remember two days of filming back in May, 2005, when helicopters spent hours buzzing around Bryn Athyn’s historic district. The first day’s attempt was cancelled due to wind gusts. The second day the choppers came late, but captured some beautiful sunset shots. The last day of filming was sunny and clear. (more…)

Replica of Swedenborg House at St. Louis World Fair (1904)

swedenborghousereplicasmall.jpg“The Committee of the General Convention, which is charged with the duty of preparing for some ‘New Church feature’ at the St. Louis Fair, reports, in the Messenger for January 6th [1904], a plan to reproduce, in as nearly exact form as possible, Swedenborg’s old house on Hornsgatan in Stockholm. The house was torn down long ago, but a fine picture of it, in water color, is preserved in the library of the Academy [possibly the two photos, below]. It is proposed to make this house a cozy centre for New Church people visiting the Exposition, and to have it furnished with a good bust as well as portraits of Swedenborg; a suitable exhibition of his Writings, with samples of the phototyped manuscripts, etc. The main idea, this time, seems to be the ‘very effective educative influence upon the minds of the youth and children of the Church,’ and as such it deserves the encouragement and support of the whole Church. The sum needed for the enterprise, is however, quite a large one” (New Church Life 1904, 104).

eshusjpgsm.jpgThe Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904 opened on April 30th and ran until December 1st. The call within the New Church for funds to build a replica of Swedenborg’s house at the fair was entirely successful. (more…)

New Church Artist Jean-Jacques Gailliard (1890-1976)

gailliardchapelsm.jpg“At the end of 1914, and the beginning of 1915, we advertised our [New Church] Library in two Brussels newspapers, but friends advised me not to continue, as these newspapers were being betrayed to the enemy. I could not imagine any other way to attract new people to our Mission, when it came to my mind to use the art of our brother [Jean-Jacques] Gailliard. I suggested the decoration of our chapel as a possible attraction and he accepted. We studied the question together, and he made a sketch.

At that time, Mr. Melchers came to visit us, and was very much interested, but when we told him that we proposed to paint directly on the walls, he exclaimed that it would be a pity, and advised us to paint on linen so that the pictures could be removed in case of our departure from that place. M. Gailliard worked from March to November [1915], when the decoration was completed. Invitations were then printed, and a small explanatory tract.

The desired result was obtained! The impression is fairy-like! It is a dream! It is unique, not only in the Old Church, but also in the New Church, for it is a new art! A new application of the science of correspondences! (more…)

88th Anniversary of Dedication of Bryn Athyn Cathedral (October 5th, 1919)

cathded2.jpg“Perhaps the deepest impression made upon us by this Service of Dedication was through the perception that the long years of spiritual depression and anxiety – states induced both by the greatest war in history and by the pangs of transition from one generation to another in the Church – that these desolate and searching years of trial had failed to destroy our faith. The prison of the years was at last broken. The famine of despair no longer weakened our energies. A sense of happiness and satisfaction flowed into all our minds, as it seemed from Heaven” (William Whitehead, “Impressions of the Dedication Service,” New Church Life 1919, 748).

cathded6.jpgThe dedication of Bryn Athyn Cathedral took place on Sunday, October 5th, 1919, during the Tenth Assembly of the General Church of the New Jerusalem. Three separate services were held throughout the day—A morning Dedication Service (attendance 900), an afternoon Holy Supper Service (attendance 500), (more…)

Emanuel Swedenborg: Buddha of the North

suzukibook2.jpgThis week Glencairn Museum will be opening a temporary exhibit, “Buddhism in Pennsylvania,” and hosting a group of Tibetan monks from the Drepung Gomang Monastery in Nepal, who will be creating a mandala (sand painting). One of the events offered in connection with the exhibit and visit by the monks is a lecture by the Rev. Barry Halterman. His illustrated presentation will explore the origins and unique aspects of the Tibetan style of Buddhism, the purpose, symbolism, and ritualistic elements of mandalas, and some possible connections between Buddhist and New Church teachings (Wednesday, September 26th, at 4pm). 

Dr. Stuart Chandler of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania is the guest curator of “Buddhism in Pennsylvania.” In addition to studying Buddhism, Dr. Chandler conducts research on the evolving religious landscape of Pennsylvania, and has served as the director of the Center for the Study of Religion in Pennsylvania since its founding in 2002. After learning more about Swedenborg, Dr. Chandler has written the following: 

“The Buddhist and Swedenborgian traditions share certain basic insights about how we humans can realize complete fulfillment. The Buddha would certainly have agreed with Swedenborg (more…)

New Church Bible and Book Car (1916)

bibleandbookcar.jpg“Dear Father

After leaving home we soon found out that our posters threatened to blow to pieces by the wind, and proceeded to remove them.

Sellersville was the first town we considered giving a talk in; but there were too few people on the streets . . .

Our next stop was Quakertown eight miles from Allentown. We put out our signs and played a little music, but as this did not draw a crowd we talked to some of the people sitting on the porches without any success . . .

This morning we left Allentown and with no other accidents after two blow outs we arrived at Stroudsburg. (more…)

Shall We Dance? Early Phi Alpha and Sigma Delta Pi Dances

dancecard1.jpg“On Friday, May 7th, the Sigma Delta Pi Fraternity held its fourth annual dance in the DeCharms Hall Auditorium. Four happy hours were whiled away in dancing amidst a veritable fairy-land of greens from the neighboring woods, which are now in the full glory of spring foliage” (New Church Life 1915, 421).

The Sigma Delta Pi fraternity was formed in the spring of 1911 by Academy of the New Church male students living in Bryn Athyn. They adopted the Latin phrase non sibi sed omnibus (“not for oneself but for all”) as their motto. A week after it was founded the club held a picnic in the woods, complete with Japanese lanterns and a “transparency” of their motto suspended across the Pennypack Creek (more…)

Happy Birthday New Church History Fun Facts!

bh.jpgToday marks the one year anniversary of the launch of New Church History Fun Facts, a project of NewChurchHistory.org. The “fun facts” have appeared every ten days (on average) since August 23, 2006. An index appears online here, or you can read a complete list of past “fun facts” at the bottom of this page.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank our subscribers for their support over the past year. Some of their comments appear below. Your feedback is very important to us. Please hit reply to this message or write us at [email protected] and tell us what you think about New Church History Fun Facts or how we can improve!

We would also like to thank the Paul Carpenter Fellowship Fund, Academy of the New Church, which recently awarded NewChurchHistory.org a grant that will allow us to continue publishing the “fun facts” and adding new articles, books, and photo albums to the site. (more…)

The Importance of Hebrew in the Early Academy and General Church

hebrewgreeting2.jpg“Bishop Pendleton had been requested to open the Theta Alpha meeting [at the 1910 Assembly] with a religious service as nearly as possible to what it had been fifteen years ago, when we made much of the Hebrew. He had been very much surprised to see how well they remembered the Commandments in the Hebrew. They were repeated by a large number of ladies without any halting or error. He was still more surprised to see in the singing of the Hebrew anthem how well they remembered, the affection with which they sang, and the great volume of the singing. He had never heard the like before” (New Church Life 1910, 508; emphasis added).

hebrewgreeting1.jpgFrom the earliest days of the Academy of the New Church there has been ongoing discussion about the importance of the Hebrew language to the New Church and its place in the curriculum of New Church schools. (more…)

Too Hot for Church This Summer? Attend Sunday Services out in the Country! (1891)

Photo181crop.jpgDuring the early 1890s summer services and special gatherings of the Church of the Advent (Academy of the New Church) in Philadelphia took place “out in the country” in what is now the borough of Bryn Athyn. Locations included Knight’s Hill, “Mr. Pendleton’s barn,” and “the evergreens in front of Mr. Schreck’s residence” (see New Church Life 1895, 127). A notice in New Church Life reads as follows: 

“The services of the Church of the Advent, in Philadelphia, will be resumed on the 21st of September, at 565 North Seventeenth Street. Services are being held at Knight’s Hill, Bethayres, Pa., in the neighborhood of which place a number of the members of the Church of the Advent are spending the summer” (New Church Life 1891, 132).

Summers in the (non-air conditioned) cities of the 1890s were very uncomfortable, (more…)

Cornerstone Laying Ceremony in Durban, South Africa (1923)

trowel.jpg“Before the ceremony, a short service was held at the pastor’s residence. The Forty-second Psalm was sung to the music of the English composer, C. J. Whittington. After the sermon, which treated of the Divinity of Christ, the congregation proceeded to the site of the new building. The stone was laid by the pastor, Rev. H. L. Odhner, acting for the Bishop of the General Church of the New Jerusalem. It was an unhewn stone, inscribed with “The Head of the Corner” in Hebrew characters, and with the references, Ps. cxviii and Matt. xxi, 42., and was dedicated as a symbol of the doctrine concerning the sole Deity of Jesus Christ, who was the Word made flesh, or God Incarnate; the acknowledgment of this central truth being that rock upon which the Lord said He would found His church, and the cornerstone of the true Christian religion. A children’s choir sang the 118th Psalm in Hebrew, after which the architect presented the Rev. Odhner with an inscribed silver trowel (see photo above) for the official laying” (Natal Mercury, December 14, 1923. In New Church Life 1924, 314).

troweldetail.jpgGlencairn Museum has in its New Church collection the ceremonial trowel that was used by Hugo L. Odhner during the cornerstone laying ceremony described above (05.R0.545). The trowel is inscribed as follows: “Durban Society of the Church of the New Jerusalem, Foundation Stone Laid by Rev. H.L. Odhner BTh., 18th Nov. 1923″ (see photo above). Although the trowel mentions November 18 as the date of the ceremony, according to a report by Odhner in New Church Life, the actual date (more…)

Rev. John Hargrove Delivers New Church Sermon before Jefferson and Congress (1802)

hargrove.jpgJohn Hargrove (1750-1839) was one of the first New Church ministers ordained in America, and his ministerial career included several remarkable events. On December 26th, 1802, he delivered a sermon On the Leading Doctrines of the New Jerusalem to President Thomas Jefferson and members of Congress. Two years later in 1804 he delivered another sermon in Washington on Christmas day—On the Second Coming of Christ, and On the Last Judgment— this time before both Houses of Congress. His 1804 sermon is currently part of the Library of Congress exhibit, ”Religion and the Founding of the American Republic.“

John Hargrove was born in Ireland in 1750 and came to Baltimore in 1769. On November 28th, 1776, he married his first wife Hannah England, and soon afterwards became a Methodist. He was ordained as a preacher and later became a deacon in the Methodist Church. Hargrove was first introduced to Swedenborg (more…)

Cathedral Woodworking Shed Fire (1916)

shedfire1detail.jpg“About 1:45 a.m. on Saturday, April 22d, many of us were awakened by the sounds of roaring flames and hissing steam. Several persons claim the distinction of being the first to discover the fire. At any rate, when they arrived, the whole southeast side of the blacksmith shop, where the monometal [sic] workers had their forges, was aflame (see photo above, note anvils in foreground). Mr. Gustave Glebe was unable to reach the top of the flames with the hand fire extinguisher that he carried to the fire from his nearby home. Soon the tar paper roof caught, and from its intense heat the great timbermen’s shed, which stood close by the blacksmith shop, caught the flames” (New Church Life 1916, 382).

The fire of April 22, 1916, started in the forge of the new blacksmith shop (more…)

New School House in Berlin (Kitchener), Ontario (1892)

oldcarmelcthumb.jpg“[On October 30th], parents and friends gathered at 10 o’clock, and took their places in the rear of the hall on the first floor. In front were the chairs for the children, but these were as yet unoccupied. The teachers and children assembled in the old school-house, not far away, and marched to the new building together. After laying aside their hats and wraps in the side rooms they formed in line to enter the hall. Before entering they sang the first two verses of the “Color Song” (see Life [1892], p. 124). With the third and fourth verses they marched into the hall to their seats, placing their offerings in the basket as they passed the door” (New Church Life 1893, 10).

gccarmc-892-1closeup.jpgThe Berlin (Kitchener) school house, which was also used for church services, was situated on an ample three acre lot (New Church Life 1890, 205). It was designed and built by Henry Stroh, who also built the Parkdale Church in Toronto as well as the “Club House” in Bryn Athyn.

A cornerstone laying ceremony had taken place earlier (more…)

Academy Girls School Graduation (1892)

zella.jpg“In June, just before the closing of the schools, we had a surprise. The Girls School was ushered into the Library and the door closed . . . five girls in particular were placed in the front row. Facing them in the curve of the large bay window in solemn array sat the Chancellor [Bishop William H. Benade], Vice-Chancellor [Rev. W.F. Pendleton], with members of the Council and their wives. . . . You can imagine how we girls felt before these grave heads of the Academy.

Soon the Chancellor in his crimson robe and wearing the golden seal of the Academy rose and addressed [us]. . . . Then came our first view of those beautiful pins . . . the medallion hung from a red and white ribbon fastened to a gold brooch. Father Benade explained that the eagle brooding over her young was taken from the third quarter of the Academy Seal . . . (more…)

Memorial Day at the Immanuel Church, Glenview, Illinois (1918)

soldiersglenview.jpg“Memorial Day was celebrated by the Immanuel Church in a very impressive manner. A special morning service was held in the Church, when the pastor delivered [a] very forceful address on the lines suggested by President Wilson’s request that the day be made one of prayer for the success of our armies now entering the great conflict in Europe. . .

After the service the congregation proceeded to the grounds near the school house to take part in the Flag-raising ceremony. The Boy Scouts led the procession, followed by the school children and the young ladies dressed in their Red Cross uniforms. Standing around the flagstaff, the bugle sounded, the flag was raised and saluted, and the children repeated the ‘pledge to the flag.’ After the singing of the National Anthem, Mr. G. A. McQueen made a brief address on ‘Our Boys.’ The young ladies of the Red Cross then sang a number of verses, bringing in the names of all of our boys who have joined the colors, the audience joining in the chorus.

’Tramp, tramp, tramp the boys are marching, (more…)

Herman Faber and the Academy Lion (1877)

lionfabersm.jpg“After having an everlasting lot of trouble about getting an eagle to suit[,] it one day came into my mind to look up the correspondence of the lion. It seemed in every way so much superior to the eagle in its representation of powers and ‘The Lord as to his Divine Humanity’ that I called the attention of the Phil.[adelphia] hierarchy to it. Their investigation resulted in a unanimous cry for the lion” (Walter C. Childs. Letter to William H. Benade. 6 January 1878. Academy of the New Church Archives).

In the letter quoted above, Walter C. Childs writes from Philadelphia to Rev. William H. Benade to update him on the progress being made on the design for an official seal for the Academy of the New Church. It is interesting to note that at this time Benade and John Pitcairn were on an extended trip to Europe, Egypt, and the Holy Land to spread word about the Academy and to see for themselves the land of the Bible.

The first meeting about the Academy seal had taken place in the spring of 1877, and the design decided upon at that time “was similar to that which was later adopted except that the crest was an eagle” (more…)

Take the New Church History Quiz and Win a Prize!

funfairsm.jpgLast Saturday the New Church History Fun Facts team was present at Bryn Athyn College’s Family Fun Fair, part of the annual Alumni Weekend. The history major table included a New Church History Quiz, a Fun Facts signup box, and an “archaeological dig” for children. The table was staffed by three history majors from the College: Kendra Knight, Alison Cole, and Lamar Odhner (pictured left to right).

The New Church History Quiz generated considerable interest, and resulted in six winners. Regular readers of New Church History Fun Facts had a decided advantage, since many of the answers could be found in Fun Facts published over the last six months! However, this was an “open book” quiz—a notebook with all the Fun Facts published since last August was on hand for those with an unquenchable thirst for New Church trivia. (more…)

Reflections of Faith: Making Stained Glass Windows for Bryn Athyn Cathedral and Glencairn

glassblowingsm.jpgOn Sunday, April 22, 2007, more than 400 people visited Glencairn Museum to enjoy the 2nd annual “Reflections of Faith: A Stained Glass Sunday at Glencairn.” An exhibit of historic photographs and original tools used in the creation of windows for Bryn Athyn Cathedral and Glencairn allowed visitors to explore the techniques and materials employed in the Bryn Athyn glass factory (see photo, below). Live demonstrations of glassblowing techniques used by the Bryn Athyn craftsmen were presented by Jason Klein of Historical Glassworks throughout the afternoon (see photo, left). J. Kenneth Leap from the Stained Glass Center at WheatonArts led two workshops where participants painted their own piece of glass using medieval and Bryn Athyn techniques. A special guided tour and a family project were also part of the afternoon’s offerings.

sgexhibit.jpgThe history of stained glass production in Bryn Athyn dates to the early 1920s, when a factory was built on ground only a few hundred yards from Bryn Athyn Cathedral, a New Church house of worship. The factory was in continuous operation from July, 1922, to April, 1942, when it was shut down because of the war. The building was torn down in 1952, but many of the tools and materials were preserved (more…)

Tenth Anniversary Celebration of the Academy of the New Church at Seaside Resort (1886)

decennialhotelsmall.jpg“I traveled to Beach Haven [a resort town on Long Beach Island, New Jersey], to be present at the celebration of the Decennial of the Academy, which lasted over a week. I will never be able to do justice to that occasion. It was a milestone in my life, a foretaste of heaven. It was the very culmination of the glory of the old Academy. About eighty persons were present, from different parts of the world, all being together as guests of Mr. John Pitcairn in a magnificent hotel at the seaside [see photo, left]. There were services, ceremonies, discussions and feasts, every day. What sublime spirituality, and yet what intense natural gaiety and innocent enjoyment! We ‘boys,’ of course, especially enjoyed the ‘nachspiels’ under the leadership of the indomitable Walter Childs. Fred Waelchli and I roomed together. One morning we awoke to witness a glorious sunrise over the ocean, and seriously discussed whether we were in the natural or the spiritual world!” (New Church Life 1920, 285-6).

The passage above, from the autobiography of Carl Theophilus Odhner, expresses some of the excitement associated with this event (June 14 – 19, 1886), which was remembered with great fondness by the participants for many years afterwards.

beachhaven.jpgAccording to a report written a few weeks after the decennial, “the subjects discussed were of great importance, and many teachings, new and valuable in their application to the Academy, were presented” (College Letters, August 15, 1886). The subject of New Church funerals is a striking example of how many of the traditions (more…)

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