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North Ghent - Sheshequin Township, Bradford County PA

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Church being reclaimed as community center in Sheshequin Township

By: Aaron Cahall 09/05/2005 Towanda Daily Review
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NORTH GHENT -- The white-boarded, tree-lined church sits at the end of a field, the very image of a rural community's chapel, complete with high steeple, stained glass and small cemetery. 

The 125-year-old chapel has occupied the area once known as Trinket in Ghent as long as anyone in the area has been alive, and one group is working to make sure that stays the case for a long time to come. 

The Trinket Community Organization purchased both the church and a nearby grange building in 2002, with the goal of revitalizing both and creating a community meeting place. With work to the grange hall now nearly complete, the group is turning its efforts to the church. 

Photo by Joyce M. Tice September 1999
"They're tearing down so many of these old churches," Dotti Costello, vice-president of the Trinket Community Organization, said. "It's really quite sad. It's sort of like a sacred little place."

The group has rechristened the building as the non-denominational Trinket Community Church, but the chapel was originally built as the North Ghent Episcopal Church on land donated by Henry Menold in March of 1880. The church was constructed at a cost of about $2,000, and dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, 1880.

The building later became the North Ghent Methodist Church, which it remained until the last services were held there in 1999, according to Trinket Community Organization President Greg Greiner. The group purchased the church three years later, and began to clean up its interior.

"We didn't want to see it go," Costello said. "We had heard stories about churches falling into disrepair and literally falling down."

Greiner said one of the previous congregation's last acts was to install a new roof on the building, which he said likely spared further damage to the intricate woodwork and striking stained glass windows of the building's interior.

Extensive cleaning and some other work has been done to the church, Costello said, but most of the group's efforts had been focused on the grange hall. Painting supplies have been donated by Dr. Tim Kump, and volunteers from the group are set to give the church's exterior a fresh coat of paint, Costello said. 

The church's steeple, which Costello called "an urgent matter," is up first. Proceeds from a performance by the Bresee Family Singers at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17, at the church will support repairs to the steeple.

Several weddings as well as Christmas and Easter services have been held in the church, Costello said, but more services and events may be possible as work progresses. Whether or not full-time services will ever be held at the church again remains to be seen, Costello said, but the community has already taken notice of the group's efforts.

Photo by Joyce M. Tice September 1999

"We're keeping it for the community," Costello said, "for future generations. We've had older people come up in tears because they went to church here when they were kids. They say this is what it looked like."

The historical importance of the church will soon be put to the test as well, with group members preparing to submit an application to put the church on the National Historical Register, which Costello said may pave the way for additional grants.

Both the community church and group take the name "Trinket" from the original name for this section of Sheshequin Township, which records described as "a perfect little jewel in a perfect setting," according to Costello.

The group plans a Harvest Supper and Christmas services for the church, in addition to the upcoming concert, and while Costello said there's still work to be done, the church has begun to reclaim its role as a community meeting place.

"We've all pulled together to make something out of nothing," Costello said. "We want to make a community place."

Submitted to Tri-Counties by Carol HOOSE Brotzman

Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA

Published On Tri-Counties Site On 04 OCT 2005
By Joyce M. Tice
Email: Joyce M. Tice

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