"Through good times and bad times, I'll be at your side forever-more, that's what friends are for". These famous lyrics sung by Stevie Wonder and Dionne Warwick surely apply to the wonder of the religious society who call themselves "The Friends", also known as "The Quakers." Since their early beginnings, they have shown themselves to be friends in good times and bad times through their steadfast service to others. I had the privilege of traveling with a study group initiated through the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC), tracing the steps of William Penn from the Village of Penn in Buckinghamshire to his father's roots in Bristol, England. We stopped at Oxford University where William Penn was influenced by his professor, John Locke, concerning this "dissenting" philosophy still referred to as "Quakerism". I asked our host at the Friends House in London, "Why are they called Quakers?" She explained that the term was coined by a prosecutor during a 17th century religious court trial. The term described how the people trembled or quaked in fear because they knew the consequences of their direct defiance to the doctrines of the Church of England. Dissenters from the official Church of England were often hanged, drawn, and quartered for defying the Church. I would quake too, knowing the gruesome processes used for these tortures. Our guide described those processes while we were at the Tower of London, where our own William Penn was imprisoned for being a Quaker. Penn may have "quaked" but he courageously persisted in his beliefs and wrote the controversial book "No Cross, No Crown".
    Sabastian Franck (1499-1542) was the first person during the Reformation period to cite an "invisible church from whom God sends out true laborers into his harvest". I would describe Quakers as the embodiment of Franck's nonsectarian group. One hundred years after Franck's life, during Penn's life and into the current day, the Quakers remain almost invisible but hard working laborers for mankind. Their "readings" have caused them to follow what they individually and corporately believe are promptings from God to establish good works through the formation of lasting institutions and by performing various services. Most Quakers follow Jesus, not by loud preaching, but through a quiet and gentle spirit mirroring His ministry. A true disciple would follow the teaching of his master. The Master, Jesus, encouraged all to directly request of Him, God incarnate, the forgiveness of their sins and to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit within their souls to be declared righteous before God. William Penn further believed that after such a confession of faith one should follow the precept of James, the half-brother of Jesus and author of the book of James (ca. 45-50 A.D. in the Holy Bible). The book of James is interestingly considered part of the Catholic and Protestant Epistles in a letter addressed to the twelve tribes of Israel (the Jews). In verse 2-.18 James writes: "Show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works". Penn believed that faith without works is a dead faith. Penn's book "No Cross, No Crown" challenges readers to consider that if they say that they have a faith it should bear the cross of a personal daily struggle against sin and should be a faith which is alive and proves itself by the labor of actively serving others.
During his life, Penn regularly attended Quaker meetings at the Jordan Meeting House in England, where he is now buried. Penn also attended Quaker meetings in Fallsington, Pennsylvania, the site of the Moon-Williamson log home. deGruchy Masonry had the privilege of performing restoration work on the log home's stone foundation this year. The house was the boyhood home of the founder of the Williamson Trade School, where I attended and learned masonry trade. This restoration project allowed me to express my gratitude to both William Penn, for his encouragement of the quiet hardworking service of the Quakers, and to Isaiah Vansant Williamson, also a Quaker, who founded the Williamson Trade School in 1888. Williamson Trade School, a private facility, provides valuable trade skills and vocational education complemented by many other academic courses of study which are also available at the school. Since 1888, no student, including myself, has or will pay any money to live and learn at Williamson.
A stainless steel plaque (right), inscribed with a scripture, accompanies the anamorphic projection of the benefactors of the Schuylkill Meetinghouse restoration project. A viewing hole, drilled into the stone wall at an acute angle, allows the viewer to look through the hole and see the image come into focus (left).
Restoring the Schuylkill Meetinghouse Stone Wall
This year, deGruchy Masonry completed a restoration project for the Quaker Schuylkill Meetinghouse in Phoenixville, PA. A member of the Meetinghouse read my last newsletter and was inspired to come to the aid of the structure's failing historic stone cemetery wall surrounding the modest historic gravestones. Over eighty-feet of wall had fallen into the street and five hundred-feet had lapsed into disrepair. At first, the members discussed removing the wall rather than rebuilding it. However, by working together and with the aid of a significant donation, deGruchy Masonry completed the wall with no cost to the church society. I was so inspired by the