Yes, of course, every year is an anniversary year for somebody, somewhere. In some parts of the world, and in the sight of God, 125 years is not even a blink of an eye. But to those of us mortals to whom Mt. Gretna is home, or at least a welcoming spirit, 2017 means that for 125 years there has been no summer without praise and worship, music and revitalization for those who sought a concentrated period of worship for relief from the stress and strain of everyday life.
At some point as yet unidentified during the decades of recovery following the Civil War, one or more congregations in the East Pennsylvania Conference of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ decided that Edward Stover's Memorial Campground on the eastern bank of the Swatara Creek in Dauphin County would be a fine location for a summer retreat, aka campmeeting.
They must have liked what they found there and in time a score of families built summer cottages on the grounds and nine or ten days in August were regularly set aside for the annual gathering. But by the late 1880s, secularization had intruded harshly on the grounds. The camp store sold tobacco and newspapers on Sundays, and the management would not accommodate the piety of the UB campers by closing the store and foregoing Sunday profits. So the campers voted overwhelmingly to hold their 1892 meeting on the wooded hills of Mt. Gretna, thereby creating the event whose anniversary we are celebrating all summer long.
As part of that celebration, a well-illustrated book, Two For The Woods, has been prepared by Tom Meredith, telling and picturing the Mt. Gretna story as the tale of two fraternal twins and their five cousins. It is similar in style to the earlier work Listed!, the story of the Campmeeting's listing in the National Register of Historic Places, and will be available after May 20 at the Historical Society Museum on Pennsylvania Avenue.
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