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By Rebecca Price Janney, Mar 14 2018 03:56PM

Northampton Community College Presents:

Update Presentation: "How Easton & Northampton County Earned Starring Roles in New Book Series"

With Dr. Rebecca Price Janney

Wednesday morning, March 21

10:30 – Noon, Main Campus, Gates Center, Alumni Hall, Room 130

Registration Information:

 Lectures only: $59.00 - Course Code: UPDAT200.

 Lectures with lunch on May 9 at NCC’s Hampton Winds Restaurant: $86.00 - Course Code: UPDAT201.

To register, go to For online assistance, call 1-877-543-0998 while at your

computer, Mon-Thu 8AM-7PM, Fri 8AM-4:30PM. If you have general questions about Update Program, call

NCC Community Programs Office at 610-861-4175.

By Rebecca Price Janney, Mar 8 2018 01:30PM

Those of us in the Northeast have experienced back-to-back Nor’easters this last week. Each of us who’ve lived through this weather event have stories to tell, and while mine is a rather small contribution, my mind has been focused on the winter of 1777-78 to a place just a few miles up the road.

This is the 240th anniversary of George Washington’s winter encampment at Valley Forge, and I want to give you a two-part look into what those Patriots endured. . .

Washington’s exhausted troops arrived at Valley Forge on December 19, 1777 in bitter cold and snow. A few days later, the commander-in-chief wrote to President of Congress Henry Laurens, “I am now convinced beyond a doubt that unless some great and capital change suddenly takes place in that line, this Army must inevitably be reduced to one or other of these three things. Starve, dissolve or disperse.”

The general immediately ordered the men to begin constructing small cabins for themselves. The work generally went slowly, though. The men had inadequate tools with which to work, and trees had to be cut down and honed for the shelters.

As the building of crude huts continued for several weeks, General Washington spent the nights sleeping in his own leaky tent so he could be closer to the men—not the healthiest of environments, to be sure. Under those conditions he could fall victim to pneumonia or one of the diseases spreading through the encampment.

Tools were in short supply, and when it was time for a man to stand guard duty, his fellow cabin mates had to scrounge to come up with one complete outfit for him to wear. Some men went completely naked. Amputations of frozen, blackened limbs was common—without the aid of anesthesia.

Food was also scarce, owing to a poor road system that conspired with the weather to make it difficult for supply wagons to get to Valley Forge. Then there was the problem of money. While the British paid area merchants in gold, the patriots had nearly worthless paper currency to offer.

Disease and lack of clothing made one out of every four men unfit for duty. Many soldiers wrapped pieces of blankets around their feet in a futile attempt at protection and warmth. The blood of their feet stained the snow at Valley Forge.

While Washington inspired his men, the reverse also was true; he gained strength from observing them as well. Their patience and courage in the midst of incredible suffering moved him to write, “Naked and starving as they are we cannot enough admire the incomparable patience and fidelity of the soldiery.”

(Taken from Great Stories in American History, Rebecca Price Janney, 1998)

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.

By Rebecca Price Janney, Feb 22 2018 02:23PM

Yesterday one of the most beloved figures in recent American history died. Billy Graham had almost made it to 100. There are so many reasons why people admired him. He was humble, straightforward, honest, kind, and oh, so successful. Because he touched millions of lives, millions of memories and stories are filling airwaves, print, and the internet today. I thought I’d add my own.

I never met Billy Graham, but his organization played a big part in my path to become a published author. No longer the teenage wunderkind covering the Phillies, writing about other sports figures, politicians, and celebrities, in my twenties I sensed a call to inspirational writing. In 1986 I learned about a Billy Graham writing conference in Minnesota and decided to drive out there with a friend. The contacts I made led to my writing regular magazine articles, including several for his Decision publication.

In the early 1990s, the BGEA contacted me. They were going to publish an anthology of favorite articles from Decision. The book would be called Shaped by God’s Love, and they wanted to include a story I’d written about Joseph from the Old Testament. At last, my work would be in a book! In turn, that door helped open another, to my first novels, which were published three years later.

Although I never knew Billy Graham, I came into contact with people who did. They were so refreshing in their attitudes toward him. They clearly respected and admired him, but they didn’t worship the ground he walked on. They knew he was just like them, a sinner saved by God’s grace, with a set of talents meant, not for his own glory, but for God’s, and for the good of people everywhere.

Yesterday as I reflected on the gratitude I have for getting a start in inspirational writing through Graham’s organization, I picked up a copy of his autobiography. The quote on the back cover brought tears to my eyes:

“I have often said that the first thing I am going to do when I get to Heaven is to ask, ‘Why me, Lord? Why did You choose a farmboy from North Carolina to preach to so many people, to have such a wonderful team of associates, and to have a part in what You were doing in the latter half of the twentieth century?’

“I have thought about that question a great deal, but I know also that only God knows the answer.”

By Rebecca Price Janney, Feb 15 2018 07:32PM

In the aftermath of the Florida school tragedy, we could all use an uplifting story, a reminder that other eras also had to deal with senseless violence. This one about Sojourner Truth struck me as especially encouraging:

Her original name was Isabella, and she was born sometime in the late 1790s in upstate New York. After slavery was abolished in 1827, she took herself and her freedom to New York City where she worked as a domestic servant. Isabella also joined the African Methodist Episcopal Church and began preaching at evangelistic services, discovering she had a compelling gift for speaking about the faith.

In 1843, she decided to change her name because, as she said, “I wasn’t goin’ to keep nothin’ of Egypt on me.” She prayed for a new name, “And the Lord gave me Sojourner” because she was being called to preach in many places. Then she asked for a last name “cause everybody had two names; and the Lord gave me Truth, because I was to declare the truth to the people.” In addition to preaching, Sojourner also spoke out against slavery and for women’s suffrage.

She was speaking at a Massachusetts camp meeting in 1844 when a rowdy group of men broke into the gathering, threatening to set fire to the tents. Sojourner was the only black person at the rally and, scared to death, she hurried to a corner of a tent and hid behind a trunk. Realizing her faith was calling her to be strong, she roused herself from her position and went outside. She climbed to the top of a hill and began singing:

It was early in the morning,

It was early in the morning,

Just at the break of day,

When He rose,

When He rose,

When He rose,

And went to heaven on a cloud.

Both rioters and worshipers gazed at Sojourner in amazement. Her worst fears, however, started materializing when the protesters began surging toward her, most of them carrying sticks and clubs. Finding herself surrounded on every side, she called out to them, “Why do you come about me with clubs and sticks? I am not doing harm to anyone.”

Several of the men responded, “We ain’t goin’ to hurt you, old woman. We just came to hear you sing!”

(Excerpted from Great Stories in American History, Rebecca Price Janney, 1998)

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