A Visit to the Hector Meetinghouse

The Hector Meetinghouse (1903) as it stands today in the Town of Hector, N.Y., May 2021. Photo by Melissa Travis Dunham.

There are few things as rewarding for me as driving down a country road and finding an old building, secluded among the trees. In Upstate New York, where I’ve lived for the past 30 years, there are many of these off-the-beaten-path treasures that one wouldn’t normally find unless they heard about it from someone else.

One such place is the Hector Meetinghouse, which is just outside of Ithaca, N.Y., and is only open during the warmer months since it has no electricity or running water. Since 1978 Ithaca Meeting has owned and maintained the building, and now hosts worship there every Sunday from Easter to Thanksgiving (the meeting’s primary meetinghouse is in Ithaca). With the help of some local Friends and historians, I recently discovered that the original meetinghouse was built by Hector Meeting around 1826 in the Town of Hector, N.Y. (part of present-day Schuyler County). Following a Wilburite-Gurneyite separation some years later, the Wilburite Friends relocated the building down the road. The current meetinghouse, the one I visited, was erected on that same plot in 1903, decades after the original building collapsed.

So I had heard others talk about the Hector Meetinghouse, but I’d never seen it. Finally, one Sunday morning I decided to attend worship there. As I drove down the road, I passed a big cemetery, and found myself in a peaceful, wooded area on a dirt road. On the right was a stunning, white clapboard, church-like structure surrounded by lovely trees.

I took my time strolling the grounds. It was a beautiful summer day. The temperature was quite pleasant. The sky was blue with white, fluffy cumulus clouds. I was in a place of serene beauty and tranquility. I could indulge in a walking meditation before anyone arrived.

The first thing that caught my eye was the carriage porch on the left side of the building. This is where families would have arrived to get out of their horse-drawn buggies. There was a very large front yard, so I could imagine it being filled with horses, buggies, and hitching posts.

There was a simple porch with white slats underneath and a railing that I’m sure was helpful for elderly members. In my mind’s eye I pictured rambunctious little children running around on the porch and on the grass, getting in their last burst of ebullient play before they entered the meetinghouse, where they knew silence was the rule of the day.

In the front of the meetinghouse are four steps, painted brown. As I looked at them, I imagined how many times those steps had been trod upon, by Friends seeking and anticipating an experience of communal spirituality.

When I entered the door in silence, it felt as though I was walking into a sacred space—a space where I can open my heart, mind, and soul to receive whatever message may be given to me. All distractions disappeared as I was in the here and now. Soon other worshipers joined me, about ten in all. The wind of silence filled the air, and it moved throughout the room, quieting our every thought so we could be open to the Spirit.

One of the things that has always amazed me about Quaker worship is how someone would be led by the Spirit to stand up and speak. The message that they would bring forth, like a mini sermon, would often be exactly what I needed to hear that day. I certainly can’t explain it, but it’s as if the message was meant just for me. That’s the power of unprogrammed worship: no minister, no scripture reading, no organ music, no choir. However, someone may possibly be inspired to sing a song on occasion. That’s the Spirit moving within each person to use whatever gifts they have to offer.

The equality in Quaker worship is striking. All people—regardless of age, race, gender, or background—are equal. They become the clay that the Spirit molds and shapes. And out of their mouths come words of inspiration, faith, encouragement, and guidance. When we commune together in this sacred serenity of quietude and vocal ministry, it is ineffable.

When the speaker has finished, they sit down on one of the old and worn, squeaky wooden benches. I think about the craftsmanship that went into constructing each bench. These benches encourage us to sit upright. They remind us to be attentive to our bodies and to be present in our minds.

When I opened my eyes, I was drawn to the light. The sunlight streamed through the simple form of the wooden window frame. I noted the patina of the wood, which has aged over the years, like a piece of driftwood from the ocean. I was enthralled by this place of reverence.

We Quakers have an expression of “holding someone in the Light.” This means we are praying for that person and lifting them up in the Spirit toward God, the Light within all of us, that divine spark in every human being.

The Farmington Meetinghouse (1816) as seen from a window at Farmington Friends Church in Farmington, N.Y. The 1816 building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Photo by Cherry Rahn.

Looking through the wooden framed windows of the meetinghouse is like looking through a lens of grace. I think of all those who came before me and what they left behind in this space. The windows reveal years of forgiveness and compassion to me. They don’t have the stained glass of the famous English cathedrals. These windows are plain. The clear glass is handmade, perhaps with tiny bubbles, and it allows us to look out onto nature and into our souls.

As the service ended, we greeted each other, caught up on the week’s activities, and left uplifted and transformed. The meetinghouse was filled with laughter and vibrant conversations.

Walking out I experienced awe upon seeing the carpet of lush, verdant grass and the beautiful forms of the trees; feeling the breeze of fresh air, brushing against my cheeks; and hearing the birds singing in the background. It was a picturesque setting and made a lasting impression on me.

I felt privileged to be in this space where many have brought their tears and laughter and were blessed by the presence of others. This is what it’s like to be part of a building that has a history behind it, where the presence of those who came before can be felt in the benches on which we sit. We see what they saw but in a new light now, as revelations continue to unfold!

Chester Freeman

Chester Freeman is a retired college chaplain and hospital chaplain. He is a freelance writer and has published a children’s book entitled Runaway Bear (Pelican Publishing Company). He attends Farmington Friends Church, which is next to the historic 1816 Farmington Meetinghouse in Farmington, N.Y.

116 thoughts on “A Visit to the Hector Meetinghouse

  1. I enjoyed reading Chester Freeman’s lovely account of his visit to the Hector Meeting House. The connections that he perceives between nature, structures made by human hands, and the spiritual and emotional state of the persons inhabiting those spaces read like a page from Nathaniel Hawthorn. Thanks, Chester, for this guided tour!

    1. A fine and evocative account of the Hector Meeting house and Chester Freeman’s own relationship to Quaker faith. I no longer live in the Finger Lakes/central New York but I am inspired to seek out the historic Hector building.

  2. Wow! Chester once again wrote an amazing article with such rich detail that I felt like I was actually there! I love how he expressed the movement of silence in Quaker meeting, along with a description of Quaker equality and how the Spirit molds each of us. I also love the ending, anticipating revelation. So beautiful. Thank you Chester!

    1. Chester Freeman’s article on the Hector Meeting House kept me absorbed throughout the whole story. I found myself in a space of peace as he described his thoughts while traversing the Meeting House and surrounding area. While elucidating his thoughts I also found a deeper understanding of what it means to be Quaker through his eyes. This is a gift!

    1. Chester Freeman writes beautifully, bring forth memories of warm days in summer and quiet times in church companionship. His prose is gentle, carrying us with him, and allowing us to feel as if we are there with him. He is a gentle man with a talent to share important thoughts and deeply felt emotions.

  3. “The wind of silence filled the air, and it moved throughout the room.” Chester Freeman’s lovely essay honors 120 years of community in a humble, peaceful space. He invites us to sense with him what was brought, illuminated, shared, enjoyed, forgiven, and left behind at the Hector Meetinghouse – all through “the power of unprogrammed worship,” in which everyone present is an emissary of Spirit. Grace-filled thoughts, gracefully written.

  4. “Off the beaten path “jumps out at me as I began to read about this MeetingHouse of Worship, far away from places of worship that people usually visit on Saturday or Sunday mornings , but worth the effort to Stop and Be Still, sit up on the wooden benches and hear the mini sermons or testimonies of others. I see the clear glass windows allowing more light into this wonderful structure more importantly, more light in our lives. Jesus tells us “I am the light of the world “I am fueled up and ready to Go !! Brighter days are ahead. I’m keeping the Faith. Thank you Chester for sharing your experience.

  5. Full of lush imagery, Chester Freeman’s piece on the Hector Meeting House is evocative and yet quietly takes us there.
    And we are reminded of the importance of space, listening, and taking the time to notice.

  6. Chester Freeman’s meditation on place is so peaceful that I actually felt like I was at meeting, meditating on what was all around me, leaving me with both a strong sense of here and now and of “way back then”. The piece captures time past and stops time all in the same moment. Beautiful

  7. Reading Chester’s writing of Hector Meeting House is truly a meditation. I feel as if I am there with him to experience this quite time and powerful worship. Yet to be brought to the light and beautiful surrounding of God’s gifts of the land and people. Sharing the joy of this writing has given me the experience to join with others in worship, a kind I will never know. Except through Chester writing!

  8. Chester Freeman has beautifully articulated the profound spiritual inspiration one feels when visiting a simple, quiet historic house of worship no longer regularly used. There are many of these wonderful treasures scattered all across our country where congregations they once served have moved on in the never-ending challenge of constant change. Hector Meeting House and others still serves as anchors of faith in our increasingly complex world. Thank you, Chester!

  9. Chester takes us through what might otherwise be considered a ho-hum visit to an old Quaker Meeting House and repeatedly shows us how, by using all our senses, we can become intertwined with God’s world, leaving us in reverent awe. Thanks, Chester.

  10. As I read Chester’s words, I felt as if I had been transported to this sacred place. I have been inside a Quaker Meeting room during a tour of a facility in the Philadelphia suburbs. I now know that if I ever have the opportunity to attend a “meeting”, I will definitely do so.

  11. Chester I always like to read your writings and articles. This article makes one want to go and attend a Quaker meeting to also feel the spirit in the room which is radiating off the other Quakers and their presence. The best part as you explain is everyone gets to participate if they choose not one person dominating the meeting I hope you continue to write and publish your articles for you never know what good effect it can have on an individual young and old.

  12. This was a very peaceFULL experience.
    It is my prayer that you continue to share these journeys to inspire and heal humanity in this present age. Thanks for sharing yet another aspect of meaningful living❤️

  13. I love the imagery in this piece. I’ve lived in this area in the past and never knew this history. It makes me take a closer look. Totally enjoyed this article. Thanks Chester.Marietta

  14. What a peaceful, refreshing visit we just had with Chester Freeman! I could almost feel the breeze and hear the hoofbeats as the Friends arrived in their buggies. As he described looking through the glass, I recalled a little church in Connecticut whose tall plain windows, showing just the sky and the treetops, brought in so much more of the spirit than the fanciest stained glass.

  15. Chester evoked so vividly the real holy silence one can find in an old Friends meeting house, a silence that allows our self to fall away and open to the Spirit. Yesterday 11 of us from 5 meetings held an Extended Worship day at the South Starksboro meeting house in Vermont, surrounded by the woods and the old Quaker cemetery. It’s a white clapboard wooden meeting house from the early 1800’s, with no electricity or running water, old benches, and a huge old wood stove for warmth in the cold weather. You can see it on the short video entitled The Ministry of the Stove, on Youtube. It is in regular year-round use by the South Starksboro Friends meeting.
    Thank you, Chester, for this glimpse into our deep Quaker heritage around us.

  16. My wife and I were once privileged to worship with Third Haven Friends in their old Meeting House in Easton, Maryland, built in 1684. Chester Freeman’s words have brought that experience welling back up in me. His evocation of the experience of silent worship, in a space used for that purpose so long that Spirit has seeped into its very walls, is itself Spirit-filled, and was a joy to read. I recommend it for sharing, both with other Quakers and with non-Quakers who might be interested in learning about the Society of Friends.

  17. Such lovely prose! Chester Freeman has a unique way of presenting his observations and setting me in the moment and surroundings with his emotive descriptions. I continue to be spellbound with his thoughts.

  18. I agree with above comments. I was transported in mind and spirit. A real sense of excitement and serenity happened to me –at the same time. Very rare. Very special. Thank you Chester Freeman.

  19. Chester Freeman’s “A Visit to the Hector Meetinghouse”, transported me to a place of peace and tranquility. I always feel a sense of reverence and calm when I enter a place of worship, but this is the first time this transformation has occurred while reading a description of a place of worship. Mr. Freeman described a place I would love to visit. Thank you for sharing, Chester.

  20. Chester has a way of making words come to life…softly, gentle, soothing. As I read his article I could feel the gentle breeze against my skin. I could feel the communion of the congregation lifting my spirits and making me whole. I felt at peace. What an amazing gift! Thank you Chester for sharing your talent and contributing to the peace of the world.

  21. Reading Chester Freeman’s “A Visit to the Hector Meetinghouse” essay was a total immersion experience — so richly and deeply nuanced in description, transporting the reader to another time and place with past blending with present and future. SO beautiful! And incredibly informative. Having always been curious about the Quaker religion, after reading this piece I find myself surprised, inspired and excited that such a religion exists and can’t wait for the opportunity to attend a meeting!

  22. Chester’s imagery and descriptive language made me feel like I am right there at this Quaker home. His writing makes one appreciate the grandeur of God’s creation. We are often consumed with the hustle and bustle of daily life, and meditations such as this remind me to slow down, and even stop, to look and listen to the beauty surrounding us.

  23. Chester this was an uplifting article on being in a sacred place and how the spirit can just come over you. I would love to visit a Quaker Meeting House and attend a Quaker Meeting. Would love to read more of your publications for the Quaker Magazine.

  24. Chester’s article is informative and picturesque but most importantly for me, it captures the feeling and essence of the experience of attending a Friends meeting and the miraculous possibilities of Divine grace that can happen there.

    1. Absolutely beautiful! This article moved me to (happy) tears, as Chester’s writing often does. I am thrilled that other people now get to experience this Friend’s literary artwork. Chester, while some Friends bring songs and some bring delicious potluck dishes, one of your incredible gifts (to us) is your writing. Seconds, please!

  25. Chester has been sharing his writing with me for several years now. I’m always so amazed that he literally takes me to the place or time he’s writing about. Reading this article, I felt peaceful and reflective as if I were sitting there in the Hector Meeting house too. Chester has a beautiful way with words that evoke all of the senses. You can smell the old wood, see the worn wood and experience the peacefulness that Chester experienced.

  26. “We see what they saw but in a new light now:” Chester paints vivid images of what life might have been like at the Hector Meeting House during pastoral days, and he connects these scenes with a thread of Timeless Spirit. That spirit helps teach me how to live better during these chaotic current days.

  27. Having known Chester for many years. Me, being from Great Britain our interests are similar and have a relish of the way of life from time in-memorial. Today, in Old England, Quakers today are referred to the “Founding fathers of America. I am love History, some stories become folk-law with bittersweet results including “Civil War” which has been in both countries. Father against son, Brother against brother and so on. Over the last 40 years I have visited the USA and spent time in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania. and Visiting many Quaker meeting houses.
    Chester , has given a flash back to 1903 and with imagination of how the meeting house would conduct Their business incorporation their religious beliefs entwined. arriving by horse and buggy or a early Automobile.
    I enjoyed Chester’s vision of a Quaker Meeting House, down a long road in New York State. Opening up a clearing of Meadow land only to find a lovely building with No mod cons. Heaven!

  28. Uplifting and provocative article, Chester! Uplifting because it made clear the power of people praying together in an ordinary setting – and producing an extraordinary shared experience. And provocative because it challenges us to be quiet, humble and courageous enough to channel the “still small voice” that runs through us all. Deep thanks for sharing this piece with us, Chester!

  29. I felt I was beside Chester as he described his visit. I could sense being there as he shared his vision. It’s not far from where I live so it will have to go my list of things to do, places to visit. You know, in the post COVID period, so many have drifted away from God. He is still there. It is us who moved away. We need people like Chester to remind us of our heritage and remember who made us and has a plan for each of us if we would stop and listen as Chest did in his visit. Thank you, Chester, for sharing.

  30. The article captures the beautiful memory and history of the meeting house. You can sense the interiority of the people who attended the meeting. Chester’s writing invites us to the quiet space where God speaks to us through the window of the soul.
    I hope someday I will make a visit there.

  31. I just finished reading this great description of this lovely Quarter house. thank you Chester for a trip down memory lane through your mindful images of the past. Reading what it must have been like years ago made me remember what it was like growing up in the Methodist Church in my small hometown in Belhaven, NC. You gave us the size, the inside and the people along with the feeling of belonging. I loved the way you connected your feeling of peaceful the grounds and house gave you just being in its orbit. Even though the membership was small, I could feel though your words how much you got out of the service. It’s wonderful to know there are buildings today that can offer others a space to worship, feel connected and offer true peace. Thank you for helping us see this wonderful house for all its beauty.

  32. I just finished reading this great description of this lovely Quaker house. thank you Chester for a trip down memory lane through your mindful images of the past. Reading what it must have been like years ago made me remember what it was like growing up in the Methodist Church in my small hometown in Belhaven, NC. You gave us the size, the inside and the people along with the feeling of belonging. I loved the way you connected your feeling of peaceful the grounds and house gave you just being in its orbit. Even though the membership was small, I could feel though your words how much you got out of the service. It’s wonderful to know there are buildings today that can offer others a space to worship, feel connected and offer true peace. Thank you for helping us see this wonderful house for all its beauty.

  33. Like the other comments above, I really enjoyed this piece. Very peaceful and touching. Such care and thought went into this writing and it shows. I read this aloud to my mother who is no longer able to read on her own and she really enjoyed me reading it to her aloud. Thank you, CRB

  34. There are few things as rewarding for me as riding down a country road and finding an old building, secluded among the trees. Chester Freeman brought the Hector Meetinghouse alive. Pictures of children playing on the steps. Families getting out of buggies under the carriage porch. Horse and buggies stopped in the grass. Seeing our maker through clear glass. The sun coming in the window to keep us in the light. God has blessed Mr. Freeman as he is a wonderful writer. I will visit this meeting place through Chester Freeman’s eyes and writings. Thank you.

  35. Chester has a unique gift. He is a national treasure! I’m so happy to see that so many other people are also valuing his writing and his spiritual depth. How lucky we are to have him speaking to us.

  36. Your choice of words stimulates all the reader’ s senses which allows one to envision themselves in the midst of the scene as it is being described. Your words are very descriptive and just seem to flow together so that is easy to place oneself in the midst of the scene. Your descriptions are so personal and intimate that it seems as if I were standing standing next to you and we were engaged in a conversation about the scenery – its’ tranquilty. It makes one desirous of similar worship experiences.

  37. What a wonderful reflection Chester has given us. His imagery is outstanding. I felt as though I was there with him enjoying the grounds and participating in the meeting. Having joined with Chester in several meetings in the past, it was great to be able to share in his spirituality and insight one more time. Thank you for this gift, Chester.

  38. Chester Freeman drew me into a holy space with his Reflection on this place of worship – A Visit to the Hector Meetinghouse. I personally have felt the presence of “a cloud of witnesses” when in an old meetinghouse. The way the light falls on the walls in the silence can stir something in me. I have recently been worshiping at Cedar Grove Meetinghouse in Woodland, NC. It is hard to put words to this experience. Thank you, Chester, for sharing this.

  39. I have not known Chester for long. He wondered into our thrift shop and l immediately felt a bond to him. He being a pastor in a hospital and me being a retired nurse. Many times I have lamented to him that there is so little time for spiritual healing in our busy hospitals.
    This last article once again took me to where he was. I especially liked referring to the old building and all the history behind that beautiful meeting place.

  40. You know the article is going to be good when, within the first few sentences, you become immersed in the subject matter and you begin a wondrous journey. Chester has done that, with his vivid articulate descriptions and prose. Well done my friend!!!

  41. I do not have the gift of words as Chester does. I heartily agree with all the above comments. The greatest cathedral of all is being alone in the woods, silent except for birds, a slight breeze rustling the leaves. A Friends Meeting House according to Chester’s vivid description is a close second.

  42. I just finished reading Chester Freeman’s article on his visit to the historic Hector Meeting House. I felt as if I were experiencing one long deep inhalation of serene peace and exhalation of gratitude. Thank you so much for that reminder.

  43. I was born and raised downstate in Westchester County. I spent summers as a GirlScout camping in the Adirondacks. I lived in upstate NewYork for nearly 20 years. It’s been a while since I’ve roamed those parts but I recognize the allure of which Chester speaks in this reflection. I am pulled back to a familiar landscape to travel on a country road to this place he describes so vividly that not only can I see the pathways along which we are walking, once we have arrived, I can smell the fragrances of the season as well as the aromas that rise up from the soil in which his story is backed in. It’s one of Chester’s gifts as a storyteller. He writes in such vivid images and plain speak that are enlivened by his mystically grounded poetic prose transcending time and space. He carefully midwifes us, his readers, into powerful connections with ppl the scenes he is sharing intimately. Landscape images evoke responses that are proximate associations with deep emotions Chester is able to inspire within us as we are invited to visit the Hector Meetinghouse with him. I love reading whatever Chester writes. I hope this will continue to be a place I can find his soul-filled reflections that are for me a portal to places to be transformed by his writing and my imagination. Though not a “Friend,” it is now my desire to find a Quaker meeting house where, like Chester, “I can open my heart, mind, and soul to receive whatever message may be given to me.” Thank you, Chester, for holding me in the light in sacred space.

  44. I enjoyed this article completely. I felt like I was there seeing everything. I could feel the breeze on my cheeks. The sounds of the wood, people walking by. I could smell the warm sun, and see the friendly clouds inviting Friends in to pray. Mr. Freeman is a very talented writer. I look forward to more.

  45. I like the details of Chester’s writing so every detail is there and those details accummulate to paint a picture. It is slow and methodical and so much reminds me of painting. I really felt I was there!

  46. I really enjoyed reading this article and loved the way the author, Chester, described the surroundings and the history. It provided a beautiful setting which I felt I was a part of while reading and shared a very special moment of thoughtful reflection. Chester’s heartfelt writing touches the reader and invites quiet and reflective moments – a true gift for the reading audience.

  47. What a wonderful article. I never had any idea that building was there. I love old buildings and have had the privilege to help restore a couple. I look forward to visiting this one this summer.

  48. Chester has the gift of artistry with his pen. His writing about the Hector Meetinghouse transports us to a place which is real and then gives us a window into his experience in worship which is truly magical and inspirational. Such a gift, reverently offered in his prose, is very much appreciated in a time when events seem to come at us at ever increasing speed. The quiet, reverent atmosphere of the Hector Meeting experience, as described through Chester’s artistry, is sorely needed in our 21st century world.

  49. Chester wrote for me long ago, for a magazine I created in Australia, Textile Fibre Forum. I always loved getting his well written columns and am pleased to be reunited with his writing style in this lovely article. I hope there are more to come. Janet De Boer, OAM

  50. As always, the artcles you write, Chester, touch me deeply and I am very appreciative of the picture you paint for me to absorb and ponder. Even before I read your article, I was quite taken with how beautiful the Hector Meetinghouse is. Thank you for sharing your gift of words and awareness of the beauty around us.

  51. While many Friends don’t consider their meetinghouses as distinctly sacred places, Chester beautifully captures the power of a sense of place that carries with it history, memory, and connectedness. Whether we are newly convinced Friends or come from a long Quaker lineage, the presence of our Quaker “ancestors” can often be strongly felt in the places they once worshipped. Knowing they sat here on these same benches, struggled with what it means to be faithful, and rejoiced in the gathered covering of spirit connects us both to the past and to the future as we become the ancestors of those who will sit here and breathe in the spiritual DNA we leave behind. Thank you, Chester for such a poignant reminder!

  52. Thanks, Chester, for your words which took me a quiet place of reflection. I, too, felt the wooden bench and looked out those windows to the green woods and sky. I hold you in the Light.

  53. There are experiences, liminal spaces, where I find myself surrounded by, and engaged with, the Divine. Chester’s writings are often the source of these transformative moments for me. His vision and wisdom are presented in such detail and clarity that I feel like I am truly there with him; and it’s no longer his story but ours together. There are no barriers of separation nor domination and all are welcome to embrace the moment that only that kind of love can give. No one is excused and all are welcome. I always learn something to take away and enhance my life. The construct “holding someone in the Light” will be mine for ever and I will put it to good use.

    Peace and blessings…….

  54. Thanks Chester for your “Hector Meeting House” article. For a moment, I felt as if I were actually inside the gathering place because it was described/presented so vividly.

  55. I have been appreciative of Chester Freeman’s work in supporting Quaker history over the 20 + years I have been doing research supporting Judith Wellman and the 1816 Farmington Quaker Meetinghouse Museum. Knowing how Quakers have been involved in many good causes has to create a good interest in the Society of Friends.

  56. Chester’s rich descriptions and sensitive perceptions allow the reader to experience this historic and holy site with him. All who enter this magical, intimate wooden cathedral are infused with God’s healing and transformative Spirit.

  57. Thoroughly enjoyed Chester Freeman’s visit to the Hector Meetinghouse. Melding architecture, faith, time and contemplation into a breezy yet absorbing essay is a gift. His spiritual connection to the past, the shadows of people moving through the meeting houses in days gone by, brings life to these places. Especially evocative is his description of the Quaker ways of worship which are not well understood by many or experienced by most. I find myself wondering: If I were transported to the meetinghouse a hundred years earlier in time, would I have stood up and spoken? What would have been on my mind? Thank you Mr. Freeman for bringing me to this place.

  58. Chester Freeman’s article evokes memories of the past, yet also gives us a sense of the present
    as he chooses his words so wisely. Hopefully we will be reading more of his musings in the future.
    Peace be with you Chester.
    Will Henry

  59. I was thrilled to see Chester’s first article in Friends Journal. While we have never met, we have been pen pals for many years who have shared many unpublished writings on Quakers, spirituality, and justice. I love his simple, direct, and lyrical language that evokes the details of important experiences of the extraordinary in the ordinary act of attending an old rural meeting house for worship. I was moved by Chester yet again in this piece and hope he writes many more pieces for Friends Journal!

  60. I so enjoyed this article which for me captured all that is the Hector Meetinghouse. I love the way Mr. Freeman described the building, not limited to just the structure, he set-up the scene for imagination. I could see the horse and buggies, hear the frolicking children and feel the silence of the meeting room. So many riches, not just in meeting for worship but,It weddings, funerals, and celebrations. My daughter gave a violin recital there 20 years ago. You should experience that room when it is filled with music. Priceless.

    Once you have attended Hector Meeting it makes a solid space in your head and your heart. It is so special and you sir captured the whole of it. Thank you.

  61. What a wonderful article, it was very moving and well written. Once again Chester has captured the moment in time that we all wish to achieve. Bravo, I hope to read many more articles from him. Well done Classmate.

  62. It was like walking into a sacred space to read Chester Freeman’s description of the Hector Meetinghouse, evoking so powerfully the ways in which a physical place can echo our sense of spiritual space. Love the description of windows as a “lens of grace.” And the benches as encouraging us to sit upright. Of course. I had just never of them in this way. As someone who works with restoring the 1816 Farmington Quaker Meetinghouse, I am doubly inspired by the Hector Meetinghouse, a model of what so many old Meetinghouses can do for us in Spirit. Thank you! Thank you for writing this lovely essay!

  63. Spectacular prose. A spiritual travelogue, Chester’s writing always takes me so immediately along on his journeys. Thank you for publishing his work.

  64. I have had the pleasure or eading many of Chester’s writings and have found them both inspiring and well written. This reflection on the Hector Meetinghouse may be his best piece yet. His poetic description of the vicinity of the Meetinghouse creates a sense of the peacefulness and serenity of the area that is consistent with the Quaker philosophy. I look forward to reading more reflections by Chester.

  65. Thank you Chester for your sensitive portrayal of both the physical appearance of the historic meetinghouse, and the spirituality and peacefulness that it can bestow on those who enter. I felt that calmness myself, as I read your words. Thank you.

  66. This piece by Chester is a masterpiece of descriptive writing. One can almost touch the quiet peace at the meeting house and hear tree leaves rustling in the gentle breeze. You are a very talented writer, sir.

  67. Sitting upright and expectant on plain wooden benches, clear windows that invite looking inward as well outward, winds stirring leaves and hearts: Friend Chester conveys all this with a poet’s language, a pastor’s reflection and a singer’s discipline. Thank you!

  68. As always, Chester’s writing makes me feel like I am walking beside him on his trip to the meeting house. In my mind it was a very peaceful journey to that place of worship and spirituality, and his words hold a powerful meaning. Thank you once again.

  69. Chester’s personal account of his observations during the visit to Hector Meetinghouse leads one to personally experience the power of unprogramed worship, the reverence of the venue and the equality of Quaker worship, while looking through those windows which are like the lens of Grace.

  70. In an age where all is rushed, simple exchanges feared, and no time imagined simply to wander and to wonder, Reverend Freeman’s gift to us is a breath of fresh air. Through the beauty of his descriptions, emotions, and spirit, I felt transported to an earlier time and place. While not a Quaker, I feel as never before an understanding of what that faith offers. For this I will be forever grateful. Thanks so much Reverend Freeman for taking us with you on your no less joyful than precious experience at the Hector Meetinghouse.

  71. My thoughts and appreciations of Chester’s eloquent description of his visit to the Hector Meetinghouse join in chorus with all the comments here. Truly a gifted verbal illustrator in writing, in his sermons, and in personal conversation. The description of the testimony of equality rang deep in my soul as did the peace he experienced in the silence. So many are not able to experience this in their daily life. I hope his writings continue to be shared here and in other publications so that others may know of the welcome and community that is shared when Friends meet.

  72. Once again my friend Chester has painted a poetic picture that makes it seem as though you’re standing by his side. It was just as he said.. peaceful Thank you Chester !

  73. As I read this lovely piece, a feeling of calm and a sense of beauty infused me, and I felt transported to a quieter place. The entire intention of a Friends meeting was perfectly captured, as well as the glory of a summer day in our beautiful rural area. I live in Hector, and felt a sense of pride that the rural tranquility and beauty was captured in such a clear and poignant way.

  74. It is often difficult to explain to people what Quakerism is and how we worship as a collective. Chester’s description captures the essence of a gathered meeting. It also conveys a sense of timelessness. Quakers have been gathering for hundreds of years and will continue to seek God through quiet listening. I am thankful this building is being cared for by Ithaca Meeting.

  75. I enjoyed the article very much your writing style reminds me of my own when we go into detail and paint a picture and make it so that the reader feels as if they are actually there. You’re an excellent writer and I consider myself an excellent writer and I’m glad that, especially since the time I’ve retired, I’ve taken the advice of Beethoven to write every day. Joanne Taylor

  76. I have read many of Chester Freeman’s writings and am always fully engaged with his experiences. I have always come away with a new appreciation, insight, or inspiration. This article is no exception. I felt as if I was at the Hector Friends Meetinghouse with Chester, and I felt the calm, the beauty and the spiritual connection with the place and the people. Thank you.

  77. Chester, the vivid imagery of your descriptions of Hector Meetinghouse – the verdant grounds, the squeaky pews, the wind of silence – transported me to other serene and tranquil spots sacred in my memory, among them:
    • the ruins of St. Johns, ca. 1850, high on a hill above Harpers Ferry, WV;
    • the shell of colonial era St. Philips at old Brunswick Town historic site, burned by the British in 1776, the walls still standing today;
    • and dearest to my heart, St. Thomas Episcopal Church at Bath, NC, built in 1734, where generations of my forebears lie in the cool shade of sturdy, old trees, in sight of the creek.

    My friend, I believe you are an Old Soul. Your essay reminds us to slow down, to surrender our worldly cares, and be present in a moment of silence and stillness. You seamlessly weave together the past and present, opening a space in my heart for reflections on the past and dreams for the future, and I am uplifted. Thank you for this gift.

    I hold you in the Light.

  78. Over the years I have moved away from belief in a higher power that intervenes in the lives of humans to belief in what can be proven by science. However, I still recognize the concept of “spirit” or “soul” within each of us that can connect with the spirit in others and result in wonderful (and terrible!) things. Chester’s article helped me see that this is what the Quaker Friends are about–connecting with others to uplift and bless. Belief in a god is not necessary for this good thing, this loving thing, to take place. It is also good to step back in time to connect in spirit with those who lived, loved, and suffered before us. Chester helps us do that with his colorful words carefully spun into descriptive phrases. Thank you Chester!

  79. I found Chester’s piece delightful. The whole feel was meditative. Such lush description of simple nature, together with imaginings of other times, combined with his sharing about Quaker worship in a way that made the whole of his piece seem timeless, and sweet, and gentle.
    His writing has the tone and flavor of Quaker worship, so that walking with him through this historic site, and sitting with him awaiting the moving of the Spirit within all feels like a kind of prayer.
    It was a lovely read.

  80. Chester always writes with a passion and clear understanding of his subject. His article about the Hector Meeting House is no exception. Chester once again engages the reader to learn about something they may have little to no knowledge about, and after reading they are immersed in the story, if not moved by it.

  81. Mmmm…this article drew me by my senses into this sacred place and moment. I have been wanting to attend a Quaker Meeting for a long while and this was just the encouragement I needed, understanding the service a little better. My partner has a little camp in Hector so perhaps this little meeting house will welcome my first attendance at a meeting.

  82. Chester has both spoken at services I’ve attended as well as shared some of his writings before. He has a unique quality to convey a gentle sense of passion, caring, and awe for the world and people around us. I find his reflections uplifting and able to instill in me a sense of community and connectedness that is so very needed today. Thank you for sharing this!

  83. Again, you have made the reader feel they were present in your writings and articles. This time the Meeting House comes alive. A true gift you have with your “pen”!

  84. Knowing the many challenges Chester has overcome, I find it inspiring that he is undaunted in using his poetic words to uplift others. The many comments emphasize that he has successfully built a strong community of friends, regardless of whether they are, in fact, Friends. As a lifelong resident of Upstate New York, I can attest that exploring the countryside will reveal countless hidden treasures. I certainly look forward to seeking out the Hector Meetinghouse!

  85. On reading Chester’s beautiful description of old Quaker Meetings, I was thinking that here in Florida we have sparse Quaker history, old buildings and graveyards. But lots of Quaker energy! There is one place, the St Petersburg FL Meeting House, where when I visit for events and gatherings, \ I read the names in the bricks in the enterance walkway of Friends I knew when our family first started attening ther Meeting in 1983. I can hear their voices, and feel their presence.

  86. I have lived in Western, NY for 30 years and love it here. I am always interested in learning about new places I have never heard about and this Hector Meetingmeeting house is a place I intend to visit. I like learning about local history. Chester, the writer did a great job in wetting my curiosity. Thanks!!

  87. Chester is such a talented writer. One can feel, smell and hear inside his amazing works. I always look forward to the next journey with him. I hope he continues to share his gift with us.

  88. Chester Freeman, description of his
    Visit to the Hector Meeting House.
    Was such easy reading.He detailed
    every step which made it come alive
    in your heart.Being from the South
    I could relate to the illustrations he
    gave. Thanks Chester for the easy
    and interesting story.

  89. I ‘ve never attended a Quaker service even though there’s a Meetinghouse nearby. Chester’s description of the one in New York was so eloquent and magical. It made me want to experience the quietude and peacefulness of such a place. Not all Quaker meeting houses are in the country; our local one is in the city. The location of the Hector Meetinghouse affords a person attending a certain something that others can’t. Chester captured the sense of place where the harried world is left behind and where the worshippers can be just BE, a place where everyone is equal and can connect with Spirit rather than through an intermediary, and where you’re not preached to but shared with. I felt the joy that Chester had when he came upon this special place and I look forward to reading more of his essays.

  90. What a lovely story you tell Chester. It is easy to see what peace, joy and contentment just writing about this special place has brought you. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  91. I have known Chester for a few years. It has been my pleasure to read his writings he has shared with me. As the editor of the church newsletter Chester has contributed the front page more than once. Many people from our Meeting have been touched by his writing and I was glad to see he shared the article with Friends Journal. There will definitely be more wonderful thoughtful articles to come.

  92. Thank- you friend Chester for reminding me and drawing us closer to the Light
    During my travels to attend different Meetinghouses I often reflect on the view of the light from the outside that I hope leads me closer to the Light
    I was able to attend Hartford Meeting in England as a child and saw birds flying outside – the windows were small and the top of the roof line to perhaps decrease distractions during meeting and call us inward
    Im reflecting on the light through an older glass window in New Haven Meeting room at that time on the old campus at Yale
    I’m now am a birder and during constuction of the current meetinghouse requested lowered windows now looking onto one of four Quaker based daycares in New Haven and a city park

  93. I am late to this article, but am so glad I did not miss reading it. As a Quaker I’ve experienced visiting some rural Quaker cemeteries where there was once a meetinghouse and wondering what it must have been like, of worshipping in the old Wheatland meetinghouse at Genesee Country Village and imagining men and boys, women and girls sitting on opposite sides of a wooden, but hopefully open, movable divide, and seeking out a once in use, now empty meetinghouse in Eastern NY only accessible from the outside. Chester’s article made me realize how much I missed in those experiences, and what the Spirit that infuses whereever we are gathered in worship can offer us. Having worshipped in the same Quaker community for over 50 years, I often experience those no longer physically present but whose spiritual presence still fills the room. They are still with me, much as Chester has captured those in the past whose spiritual fervor still resonated for him in the Hector meetinghouse and can be felt by those sensitive to it, as Chester is. What a gift we miss when we don’t recognize that Spirit is always with us if we pay close attention.

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