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Historic Fulton County church plans fall service

October 02, 2008

WARFORDSBURG, Pa. - The Friends of Tonoloway Primitive Baptist Church will hold their annual fall service at the historic church near Warfordsburg, in Fulton County, Pa., on Sunday.

Guest preacher for the 2 p.m. service will be Pastor Christian Elliott of the Knobsville Church of the Brethren, Knobsville, Pa. The order of service includes a selection of favorite, old-time hymns sung by the Sharon Mennonite Bible Institute Choir and congregational hymns, all to be performed a cappella at Tonoloway, which has never been wired for electricity.

Friends board member John Mentzer will also announce the publication of his book, "Tonoloway If Its Walls Could Talk," a documentation of the signatures inscribed on Tonoloway's walls by Union troops hospitalized there during Confederate Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson's bombardment of Hancock in 1862.

Worship at Sunday's service will take place in Tonoloway's fully restored mid-19th century sanctuary. Refreshments will be served in the churchyard afterwards.

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Organized in 1752, Tonoloway is Fulton County's oldest church, and the 10th Baptist church established by British Baptists in colonial America.

Tonoloway Primitive Baptist Church is on Thompson Road (Pa. 655) just a few miles north of Hancock.

More than 20 of its members servied in the Revolutionary War, including its first permanent minister, the Rev. Joseph Powell, a colonial delegate to state and national constitutional conventions. Powell is buried at Tonoloway.

A nonprofit organization, the Friends of Tonoloway Primitive Baptist Church was organized in 1979 to restore and preserve the present-day brick church, built in 1829, as a place of worship and as an historic site. Money for Tonoloway's more than $100,000 restoration was raised entirely through donations from individuals, businesses and organizations.

Longtime Friends president Daniel E. Winter said that Sunday's offering will go toward the continued upkeep of the historic church.

Tonoloway Primitive Baptist Church is on Thompson Road (Pa. 655) just a few miles north of Hancock.

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