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Pleasant Plain Friends Church
"The Fairfield Tribune"
May 23, 1889
Page 5, Column 1
Reverends Mr. and Mrs. E. G. PARKER, who recently became pastors of the Pleasant Plain Friends church, are from Washington County, Kansas, where they had been located for two years. They were formerly from Henry County, Indiana. Mr. PARKER was educated at Springfield Academy, and has been in the ministerial work proper for ten years, though, according to the custom of the sect, he has done more or less speaking in the cause since his conversion 20 years ago. Mrs. PARKER is also a regular minister and shares the preaching as well as pastorial labors of the church with her husband. They are, as we understand, the first regular pastors of the Pleasant Plain church, and preach also at Walnut church. Their family consists of a daughter 16 years old and a son 18, who entered the Academy immediately on arrival at Pleasant Plain.
"The Fairfield Ledger"
Wednesday, October 8, 1890
Page 2, Column 5
The Friends' meeting house at Pleasant Plain, a structure erected in 1850, is being torn down. A new building will be erected on its site, 32 x 48 in size.
"The Fairfield Ledger"
Wednesday, October 17, 1894
Page 2, Column 5
PLEASANT PLAIN. The Society of Friends is getting lumber on the grounds to build a belfry for the bell that came out of the Presbyterian Church, and which was given it. The old U.B. Church has been torn down and removed to Cottonwood, where it will be re-built.
"The Brighton Enterprise"
Thursday, August 27, 1931
Page 1, Column 1
HISTORY OF FRIENDS CHURCH GIVEN AT HOMECOMING SUNDAY.
Preparative Meeting at Pleasant Plain on February 3, 1841.
In the summer of the year 1835 Isaac PIDGEON and his wife and seven children left their home in South Carolina and headed their team of oxen toward the territory west of the Mississippi River, which was then known as the Black Hawk Purchase. Crossing the river near where the town of Burlington now stands, they pushed their way about thirty miles into the new country, and located a claim near the present town of Salem in Henry County. In a short time two other families of Friends joined the PIDGEONs and it was decided to found a Quaker Community in the Iowa Country. Other families of Friends heard of the new settlement and came to take up claims. The town of Salem was laid out and several Quaker communities were established in southeastern Iowa.
For two reasons conditions there were not as desirable as the settlers had hoped. One reason was that they were annoyed by slave catchers from the Missouri border; and the other was that they were close to the Mormon settlement in Illinois. In the face of these conditions many families again gathered their possessions and headed their oxen toward a new settlement about 35 miles northwest of Salem. Here the second community of Friends in Iowa was formed. The name given at first was Pleasant Prairie but was soon changed to Pleasant Plain.
The chief concern of these early Friends was to establish church and school. A Monthly Meeting had been set up at Salem, and on Feb. 3 1841, a committee came from Salem to open a Preparative Meeting at Pleasant Plain. A Preparative or Indulged meeting carried on its own meetings for worship on First Day and Fourth Day but all business was conducted thru an older Monthly Meeting.
Rapid indeed must have been the growth of the new settlement, for in less than two years Pleasant Plain was raised from the stage of a Preparative to that of a Monthly Meeting. On Dec. 28, 1842, another committee from Salem properly directed and authorized to solemnly establish a Monthly Meeting in accordance with the ancient order of the Society of Friends. Joseph ROBERTS was chosen as the first clerk.
From the very first certificates of membership began to pour into this new Monthly Meeting from all parts of the East and South. During the nine years from 1842 to 1850, 150 members came from various centers in Ohio, Indiana, North Carolina and Tennessee. In 1850 two English Friends who attended Pleasant Plain Monthly Meeting, reported that "The business was conducted in a weighty manner, there appearing to be amongst them a number of well concerned Friends who are endeavoring in faithfulness and simplicity to uphold our religious testimonies in this far western land."
In 1852, ten years after the Monthly Meeting, a Quarterly Meeting had been set up in Iowa and the first Yearly Meeting was held near Oskaloosa with from 1200 to 1300 people in attendance.
At different times several Preparative Meetings were under the direction of Pleasant Plain. Among these were Richland, Rocky Run, Spring Creek and Spring Bank, Nebr. These were all transferred or Monthly Meetings set up, with the exception of Walnut Creek. In the Quarterly Meeting Minutes of 11 - 20th, 1852, we find the following: "By the reports from P.P. Monthly Meeting it appears that Friends residing on Walnut Creek in the south part of P.P. neighborhood, request the privilege of holding a meeting for worship on First and Fifth days of each week, and a Preparative Meeting on fifth day preceding the monthly meeting, to be known by the name of Walnut Creek, which being considered is united with and granted and P.P. Monthly Meeting is directed to attend the opening thereof and report to next Quarterly Meeting." This meeting continued until 1917 when it was united with P.P. Meeting.
The first meeting house, built of logs, was located a short distance east and south of the present building. This log building was replaced about 1850 with a frame structure. Both buildings were used as school house also until the brick school building was built. The interior of the second building was divided by a half partition and sliding shutters into two equal parts, the one for the men and the other for the women. At their front there was a raised platform, called the gallery, on which were placed seats in two rows, one a step higher than the other, for the use of the ministers and elders.
During the business session the sliding shutters were closed so that the men and women carried on their business meetings separately. Each body had its clerk and for the handling of matters of mutual concern "messengers" were used to pass back and forth with written or oral messages through a door in the partition. This practice was followed until June 1887, at which time the minutes of the Monthly Meeting of Women Friends reads, "The meeting convened with open shutters for the purpose of considering the subject of uniting men's and women's meetings. After some discussion for and against by all in submission it was decided to hold it together hereafter unless we should become dissatisfied."
One thing of which we may be proud was the establishment at P.P. in June 1844 of the First Day Scripture Schools or Sunday Schools. Until this time the religious instruction of Quaker children had been almost ignored. The belief had been prevalent that people would involuntarily be led into such religious exercises as were in accord with the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and that to have a set time for such acts of devotion was strongly tinctured with formalism, always extremely obnoxious to Friends. The setting apart of a special time and place for a group study of the scriptures by both children and adults marked a new departure of great importance, and soon other meetings had set up First Day Scripture Schools patterned by the one at P.P.
The chief distinguishing feature between modern and early Quakerism was the pastoral system. Early Friends had always held the belief that all members of the meeting had equal privileges and responsibilities, and that the only impelling force to vocal utterance was the direct leadings of the Holy Spirit. They had strongly opposed formality in the religious service and the practice of employing a paid minister. By 1875 Iowa Yearly Meeting had directed that each Monthly Meeting have a committee on pastoral care toward all the flock by visiting each family by two or more of their number to encourage an establishment and growth in the divine life. This system proved impracticable because the members of the committee had difficulty in finding time for church duties and a demand was made for someone who could devote his entire time to the work. During the years 1878-1888 a revival movement swept over the country and there was an ever greater demand for a pastor who could give his time and effort to the spiritual needs of the people and encourage new converts.
Eli PARKER was the first pastor at Pleasant Plain. He was followed by Amos COOK, A. J. WOOTEN, Levi MARSHALL, L. Maria DEAN, Joseph SOPHER, Alfred HANSON, Arthur HAMMOND, George DESHLER, Charles HAWORTH, Oren and Osia HUTCHINS, Melvin and Anna SMITH, and Harvey MOON. Most of these pastors also served at the meeting at Walnut.
The history of the church would not be complete without mention of the Academy which was started about 1876. The school was carried on by the members of the church and the teachers were active Christian Workers. Many who are now leaders in other meetings received their training and inspiration in this school.
The main part of the present building was erected about 1890. Walter EDWARDS was the carpenter and he also made the pulpit which is still in use. About four years later the bell from the Presbyterian Church was given to the Friends and the vestibule and belfry were added. In 1919 the basement was enlarged and arranged for the Junior Sunday School and the Kitchen.
"Enterprise - News"
Thursday, June 17, 1971
Pleasant Plain Friends Church To Observe 130th Anniversary
The 130 Anniversary (sic) of the establishment of the Friends Church at Pleasant Plain will be observed on June 20. A program has been planned for the all-day event. Following the Sunday School at 9:30 a.m., there will be a worship service at 10:30.
Rev. Clifford WOLFE of Wabash, Indiana, will speak and Rev. and Mrs. Murray HAWORTH, former pastors will furnish special music. A basket dinner is planned at noon. In the afternoon at 2 p.m. there will be a devotional service, special music and the reading of the history of the meeting. Rev. Wade DILLAVOU, who has been pastor since 1967, will preside at both services.
The first Quaker meeting west of the Mississippi River was set up at Salem, Iowa in 1838. Foundations there were not as desirable as the settlers had hoped. On the south they were annoyed by slave catchers from Missouri and on the east they were close to the Mormon settlement in Illinois. For these reasons many families moved to a new settlement about 35 miles in a northerly direction. This was called Pleasant Plain.
On Feb. 3, 1841 a group of concerned Friends came from Salem to open a "Preparative" meeting at Pleasant Plain. In less than two years the meeting was raised from a "Preparative" to a monthly meeting. During the years 1842-1850, members came from Ohio, Indiana, North Carolina and Tennessee. In 1848 a quarterly meeting was established.
The first meeting house built of logs was located a short distance from the present building. This log building was replaced about 1860 with a frame structure. Both buildings were used as school houses for a time. The interior of the second building was divided in half by a half-partition and sliding shutters into two equal parts, the one for the men and the other for the women. Until 1887 these sliding shutters were closed during the business session and the men and women carried on their business meetings separately.
The main portion of today's meeting house was erected in 1890. Waltus EDWARDS was the carpenter and he also made the pulpit which is still in use. Four years later the bell from the Presbyterian church was given to the Friends and the vestibule and belfry were added. In 1919 the basement was enlarged to provide space for the kitchan and Junior Sunday School classes. Two Sunday school classrooms and a rear entrance were added in 1961. A modern parsonage was dedicated on Mar. 27, 1955.
The chief distinguishing feature between modern and early Quakerism is the pastoral system. Early Friends had always held that all members of the meeting had equal privileges and responsibilities and that the only impelling force to vocal utterance was the direct leading of the Holy Spirit. They had strongly opposed formality in the religious service and the practice of employing a paid ministry. During the years 1878-1888 a revival movement swept over the country and there was a demand for a pastor who could give his time and effort to the spiritual needs of the people. Eli PARKER was the first pastor at Pleasant Plain from 1887-1889. Since that time twenty-two pastors have served the meeting.
The need for higher education was felt by early Friends, and Pleasant Plain Academy was established in 1876. It was under the direction of a Board of Trustees and teachers were selected for their Christian Character as well as their Academic standing. More than 100 young people were graduated from the institution and many others profited from years of study there. Because of the growth of public high school the Academy closed in 1916.
The church observed its centennial on June 15, 1941 under the leadership of Rev. Lauran A. PHINNEY. The morning message was delivered by Rev. Richard R. NEWBY whose grandson, Rev. Richard P. NEWBY, later served as pastor of the church.
"The Fairfield Ledger"
Friday, October 21, 2016
Pleasant Plain Friends celebrating 175 years
PLEASANT PLAIN -- Pleasant Plain Friends Church will celebrate 175 years of ministry and mission Oct. 29.
The theme will be "Bloom where you are planted."
The church's first preparative meeting was held Feb. 3, 1941 (sic - 1841), as a new planting by a delegation from Salem Monthy Meeting. Pleasant Plain is the second oldest Monthly Meeting of Friends (Quakers) west of the Mississippi River, with Salem being the oldest.
Early services were held in silence; members spoke only when they felt led by the Holy Spirit. Current services are more mainstream, to include fellowship through music and a sermon presented by a pastor. A portion of each service is still allotted to quiet time for individual reflection and sharing if so led.
The congregation at Pleasant Plain has long supported mission projects, both globally and locally.
Worship service is held at 9:30 a.m. on Sundays by new pastor Kevin Rohr.
Rohr has a degree from Malone College in Christian Ministry, with a focus on religion and philosophy. His family includes wife Jody and children Kayla, Megan, Levi, KJ and John David. They moved to Pleasant Plain from Massillon, Ohio, in August so their children could begin the school year in the Pekin Community School District.
Rohr began serving as pastor of both Pleasant Plain and Woolson Friends churches in September.
Anniversary activities Oct. 29 include an open house for fellowship and viewing of church history and memorabilia beginning at 2 p.m. Refreshments will be available, as well as children's activities. Dinner will be served 5-6:30 p.m., with a worship service at 7 p.m., led by former pastor Ron Bryan.
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