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Save the Steeple!

By Rebecca Price Janney, Mar 1 2018 03:44PM

An article in a recent edition of the Allentown Morning Call addressed an issue that is very close to my heart. The steeple of Easton’s First United Church of Christ is in dire need of repair, and funds are needed to preserve this treasure.

Since I was old enough to be aware of my surroundings, the slim, elegant steeple has been a landmark for me of faith, hope, stability, rootedness. Actually, I’m guessing several generations of my family would gladly say the same.

The church itself has served the community for nearly 300 years, most famously during the Revolutionary War as a hospital for wounded soldiers. It also hosted any number of Indian treaties. My six times great-grandfather was an elder of the church when the congregation worshiped in a log school, then the courthouse at the center of the village. He helped build this, Easton’s first dedicated house of worship, right before he served as Colonel of the Northampton County Flying Camp at the Battle of Brooklyn.

This Greek Revival church has been, and remains, a sanctuary for the community in the truest sense of the word. Generations of my family have worshiped and served in this church, and I am honored to carry on the line as an associate member. Each time I arrive in Easton from my home near Philadelphia, I look to the skyline for the elegant steeple, a beacon of light and hope for Easton across the centuries.

According to the newspaper article, the 160 foot steeple was built in the early 1800s by Thomas Ustick Walter, the same architect who designed the U.S. Capitol Dome. In 1971 the steeple was last restored and is now greatly in need of repair with significant decay inside and out. The total cost will be around $350,000, and the church is appealing for a Keystone Historic Preservation Construction Grant through the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

In order to help save this treasured landmark, I hope and pray the grant will come through, as well as many more funding sources so future generations can continue looking to the skies and drawing strength from this historic and cherished steeple.

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