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On the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Town of Washington Grove

by the Reverend Joseph M. Clark

One hundred fifty years is a big deal. After the Civil War, there was a lot of pent up energy that across the nation manifested in the Camp Meetings and Chautauqua communities. By some accounts, there were hundreds of these places in the South and along the Atlantic seaboard, in the Midwest and western states.

Today, there are a few places left that resemble those first gatherings.

It is worth asking – why us, why this place? We have endured an incredible history of hardships and challenges.

The Civil War:

  • 620,000 died
  • 475,000 injured
  • 400,000 missing

How could you possibly create a new community of hope after something like that?


Women’s suffrage

World War I

The depression

World War II

The Korean War

Emmett Till

The Kennedy Assassination

The 1960’s with Viet Nam war protests and civil rights struggles

Martin Luther King Assassination



George Floyd

The January 6 assault on the Capitol

A lot of those events tore apart other communities and destroyed individuals and families — and ripped apart the fabric of our civil order.

And through it all, this Town of Washington Grove remains, intact, more than a neighborhood and more like an oasis in a huge urban area.

So let us be slow to criticize and quick to appreciate,

When we disagree or misunderstand, let us listen to each other and make out truth together.

In our sadness and fears, let us put our arms around each other.

In joy, let us laugh and sing and dance together.

In life, let us celebrate our health

In death, let us celebrate our hope.

This year, I ask that we give thanks for two of our mayors who have died… Marc Hansen and Darrell Anderson… for their leadership, wisdom and guidance. We remember them and their families.

It is with humor, friendship, and working together that we sustain a place of peace, serenity, and enormous gratitude for what this place means to so many. It is a precious and fragile gift we hold in trust for our children and the families who will follow us.

Congratulations, good people. Happy 150th Birthday!

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