Sun blowing horn wearing party hat


“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.” - Lousia May Alcott

“Necessity makes even the timid mind brave.” - Sallust, Roman historian, 86-c35 BC

“One of the secrets of a long and fruitful life is to forgive everybody everything every night before you go to bed.” = Anon

“Life is the sum of all your choices.” = Albert Camus


Keep life simple.

Plan to have fun.

Do it well; you may not get a second chance.

When a storm surrounds you remain calm.

Friendship is love with understanding.

WHERE IS HEAVEN? By Bliss Carmen, 1861-1929

Where is heaven? Is it not – Just a friendly garden plot – Walled with stone and roofed with sun – Where the days pass one by one – Not too fast and not too slow – Looking backward as they go – At the beauties left behind – To transport the pensive mind.

Does not Heaven begin that day – When the eager heart can say – Surely God is in this place – I have seen Him face to face – In the loveliness of flowers – In the service of the showers – And His voice has talked to me – In the sunlit apple tree.


O precious sign and seal of heav’nly union,
from day to day thy meaning dearer grows;
an emblem thou of holy love conjugial.
From God in heav’n that love in blessing flows.

With jewels fair His bride and wife adorning,
our Lord hath set a crown her brow above.
Its gems are radiant, and to her He giveth
that priceless pearl of life, conjugial love!

Shine bright, thou golden ring, with gleam and glitter,
from fire that melts and welds the twain in one;
a perfect union, all the dross consuming.
Behold one angel when its work is done!

This song was composed by Miss Evelyn Plummer, a teacher at the Girls School in Bryn Athyn for 12 years from the 1880s into the 1890s. It is on page 7 of REFLECTIONS ON THE FIRST 100 YEARS, GIRLS SCHOOL CENTENNIAL ALBUM, 1884-1984, edited by Vera Powell Glenn.


1. In a current issue of one of our church magazines, there is a report on the Council of the Clergy Meetings held in Bryn Athyn in June of 2014.

A review was provided of one minister’s presentation. Here is an excerpt: “In looking at what the Writings say about gender and the priesthood in heaven, evidence was found only for male priests along with warnings against women preaching. The fact angels wear only garments in keeping with their affections, and that Swedenborg saw males wearing priestly garments, suggests that the affections belonging to the priesthood are masculine.” Apparently Swedenborg never saw women wearing garments of the priesthood in heaven. If there are only male priests in heaven, why would women believe that the Lord wants them to become priests? I would suggest that they be very concerned that they may be trying to enter into a use that the Lord gives no indication, in the pages of revelation, that He wishes them to serve. How can women say that they are responding to a call to the priesthood when no call to them is heard from the Lord in the pages of revelation? Any call to the priesthood a woman hears within her own mind should be honestly and very carefully investigated. What is its real origin? And also I would suggest respectfully that a holy fear should restrain women from committing adultery in its spiritual sense, in this matter.

2. On the internet I watched the dedication of the Chara Aurora Cooper Hass Pipe Organ at the Cathedral. There appeared to be about 250 people in the congregation, many of whom were not Church members. So it seems that very few members of the Bryn Athyn Church were in attendance. One cause of this very poor attendance may be the several New Church congregations of people in and near Bryn Athyn who do not worship regularly at the Cathedral.

When I was a high school boy many years ago I worked at the Cathedral. I recall dusting the organ console many times which had the name of Earnest M. Skinner on it. (He was born in Clarion, Pa in 1866 and lived until 1960.) I am truly happy to see that Fred Hass has returned the name of Skinner to our Cathedral. This is a wonderful gift to the Bryn Athyn Church. Good idea brought to fruition.


“True worth is doing each day some little good, not dreaming of great things to do by and by.” - Anon

“Often we run away to avoid coming face to face with ourselves.” - Anon

“The language of friendship is not words, but meanings.” - Thoreau

“He who postpones the hour of living is like the rustic who waits for the river to run out before he crosses.” - Horace

“Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.” - Helen Keller

“Judge each day not by its harvest but by the seeds you plant.” - Anon

“From silly devotions and from sour-faced saints, good Lord, deliver us.” - Saint Teresa of Avila 1515-1582


1. Last November, I removed five squirrels from my back yard, using my Have-A-Heart trap. Now they can’t get into houses via chimneys and cause problems.

2. One Sunday many decades ago when I was the Cathedral curator, after the Sunday worship service, I was returning a copy of the Word to the ambry in the inner chancel. Suddenly the sanctity and silence was shattered by a man, standing by the lectern, who yelled at me, “Richard, the offering money has been counted.” (I was to put it into the safe.) But before I could respond another man standing beside him, essentially told him to shut up. Apparently the shouter had forgotten where he was. He seemed to be enjoying the angry sound of his own voice as he bellowed at me in our place of worship. It surely was a relief to have that other man sober him up. Lots of good folks around to keep life sane, I have noticed. Thank you Lord for the good side of society, here on earth.


Even when the sun sinks low on the horizon, the intricate windows of the Bryn Athyn Cathedral glow, a brilliant kaleidoscope of color.

That’s because Raymond Pitcairn – the force who drove the cathedral’s construction – insisted that the bits of glass be as deep in hue as those made in Europe during the Middle Ages.

One man, more than any other who worked to carry out Pitcairn’s vision, was responsible for rediscovering the lost method of pot-metal glassmaking that had created the rich reds, vivid blues and bright yellows of Europe’s greatest stained-glass work.

That man, Ariel Gunther, died Dec. 29 [1993] at the age of 90. In many ways, he was Bryn Athyn’s man-behind-the-scenes for much of this century. More than any other workman, he became part of the borough’s history and community life. In his later years, he toured the world lecturing on the craft of making stained glass.

“He couldn’t have been a better friend,” said Lachlan Pitcairn, a son of Raymond Pitcairn who assisted in overseeing the construction of the cathedral.

A “Jack-of-all-trades,” according to Lachlan Pitcairn, Gunther served in a variety of posts in the community. He audited the borough’s books. He served as secretary to the church’s trustees. “He was simply one of those people who was so reliable and trustworthy that any job that came up, he was eligible,” said Leon Rhodes, editor of Bryn Athyn’s weekly paper and local historian.

“He figured out how to give the effect that they [the Pitcairns] knew they wanted,” said Carl Gunther, Ariel’s eldest son, who now, as curator of the cathedral, proudly gives tours of the world headquarters of the Swedenborgian faith.

Ariel Gunther, known affectionately as “Gunny” came to Bryn Athyn in 1918….

“He was very quiet and very shy,” said Emily Asplundh, a classmate. “But he soon proved that he could be the brightest in the class.”


Gustaf Walfrid Soneson, my father, arrived in America on April 10, 1901. His mother died when he was ten years old. His father remarried when he was fifteen years of age and he left home to sail on the Baltic Sea, between Sweden, Denmark and Germany for two years….Then he set sail for America. His seventeenth birthday was celebrated on the ocean.

To earn some money, my father started to paint houses, inside and out. He had a great desire to learn, so he attended night school to study art, and he also took violin lessons. He never went to school to learn English, but acquired it by himself. He loved to do crossword puzzles, and boasted that he could almost always finish them.

Even though my father was active in the Swedish Baptist Church, he was dissatisfied with their beliefs. In 1911 he talked with Uncle Edwin Johnson, my mother’s uncle, who told him about a different religion – the religion based on Emanuel Swedenborg’s revelation. He gave my father a copy of True Christian Religion. He became interested and started to attend classes held in the home of Dr. and Mrs. Edward Cranch. He was baptized … on September 8, 1912.

During World War I, he played the trombone in an Italian band, known as Chanfoni’s Band. When the war was over, they celebrated by parading down State Street, the main street in Erie, Pa. He also played with the General Electric Band.

In 1914, when my father worked for the General Electric Company as a molder in the foundry, he heard something snap. He also heard a voice within him which told him to jump, which he did. He landed on a floor below at the same time that a huge object crashed where he had been standing.

My father earned good wages during World War I when he worked in the foundry. His first car was purchased at this time. It was called the Chevrolet 400, meaning that it cost four hundred dollars.


LOVE. In tennis when a player has no points it is called love. The word comes from the French l’oeuf which means egg, which of course is shaped like a zero.

In cahoots. These words which mean to be in partnership with someone comes from the French word, cahute, which means hut. So if people live in a hut together apparently they would be cooperating, just to be able to live together.


Sept. 29, 1938 Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Pitcairn cordially invite members of the Bryn Athyn Congregation over sixteen years of age to see their new home, Saturday, October 1st, from 3 to 5. The guests will be conducted in groups.

March 9, 1939 The Academy has notified the tenants of the Bryn Athyn Inn that it will cease to operate the establishment on July 1.

April 20, 1939 Mr. Sam Croft is acting Police Officer for Bryn Athyn while Mr. Harry White is taking a short, feature course, at Penn State.

July 27, 1939 Rev. Elmo Acton will carry on the duties of Pond Manager while Philip C. Pendleton, Esq. is on vacation.

July 27, 1939 Mr. Harry C. Walter was in New York one day last week. And that reminds us that a good word should be said for Mr. Walter and his able assistants, Messrs. Sterling and Winfred Smith, who took thirty-seven boys and two cooks (Richard Walter and Bruce Glenn) for a week’s camping trip at the Water Gap….About thirty visitors dropped in on the boys during the week.

November 9, 1939 Mrs. Robert Cole attended the Princeton-Harvard [football] game. No doubt she watched it with an unusual detachment, for she had a son in each college.