The Origins of Lehigh Valley Meeting

As early as 1922 there were a few people worshiping in the manner of Friends in the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania. In 1947 there were two groups: one in Easton and one in Bethlehem. Over Labor Day weekend in 1948 the two groups met with Joe and Edith Platt at Kirkridge Retreat and Study Center. It was agreed that they would meet for worship together in the old YWCA on Market Street in Bethlehem.

On the first First Day in October a couple attended with their 18-month-old boy, the first child ever brought to meeting in the area. After 20 minutes the father took his son out; 20 minutes later the mother went out and the father returned. At the rise of meeting Ruth Fraser told the couple to bring their son next First Day and she would babysit so they could be in meeting together. And that came about on the second October First Day.

On the third October First Day the other young parents brought their children, totaling 13. On the fourth First Day the First-day school was in operation. The adults got to know each other so well that they thought about becoming a regular monthly meeting. Douglas Steere and Elton Trueblood encouraged them to do so.

As there were then two Philadelphia Yearly Meetings, we decided to become a united meeting. It took five months to be accepted by two quarterly meetings. On June 1, 1949, with Martin Trueblood as clerk, Lehigh Valley Monthly Meeting came into being. We had come from five yearly meetings: both of Philadelphia’s, New York, Indiana, and Ohio.

In the Bible, Isaiah 11:6 ends "and a little child shall lead them." In our case, it was 13 children.

Bryn Hammarstrom

Bryn Hammarstrom, of Allentown, Pa., was a founding member of Lehigh Valley Meeting. He and his wife, Helen, were the first to bring a child to meeting in Bethlehem.