From The Pastors

Regularly one of our pastors will share a sermon, reflections on religion, or what’s going on around the community and the world. Our current message is below:

The Academy Movement and Long Beach Island

From Rev. Jeremy Simons, Cathedral Chaplain
August 17, 2018

Many people from Bryn Athyn regularly visit Long Beach Island and this has been true from the earliest days of the church. Harold Pitcairn owned a home there and used to land his planes on the beach in the 1930s, but the history goes back farther than that.
Before 1886 the only way to reach LBI was by boat. But that year, the Long Beach Railroad completed a trestle from Manahawkin to the island, opening a station in Beach Haven, and making it possible to travel by train from Philadelphia to Beach Haven. John Pitcairn, married in 1884 to Gertrude Starkey, and now with one-year-old Raymond, took advantage of this new access, and invited the members of the Academy to the Engleside Hotel in Beach Haven to celebrate the Academy movement’s ten-year anniversary. Here is part of an account from
College Letter, Philadelphia, August 15, 1886:

The Decennial meeting, held from Monday, June 14th, till Saturday, June 19th, at Beach Haven, New Jersey, surpassed the expectations formed of it. The subjects discussed were of great importance, and many teachings, new and valuable in their application to the Academy, were presented. The social features were most enjoyable, and, like the other more serious elements, tended greatly to consolidate and strengthen our beloved Academy. It may safely be said that the Academy enters upon a new state with brighter prospects for its internal growth, in the life of spiritual use, than it has had in the past.
There were, altogether, seventy-seven members present, and three invited guests; five came from Canada, twelve from Pittsburgh, eight from Chicago, two from California, one from New Jersey, forty-three from Philadelphia, six from Brooklyn.

And from the autobiography of Carl Theophilus Odhner:

“I traveled to Beach Haven to be present at the celebration of the Decennial of the Academy, which lasted over a week. I will never be able to do justice to that occasion. It was a milestone in my life, a foretaste of heaven. It was the very culmination of the glory of the old Academy. About eighty persons were present, from different parts of the world, all being together as guests of Mr. John Pitcairn in a magnificent hotel at the seaside. There were services, ceremonies, discussions and feasts, every day. What sublime spirituality, and yet what intense natural gaiety and innocent enjoyment! We ‘boys,’ of course, especially enjoyed the ‘nachspiels’ under the leadership of the indomitable Walter Childs. Fred Waelchli and I roomed together. One morning we awoke to witness a glorious sunrise over the ocean, and seriously discussed whether we were in the natural or the spiritual world!” (New Church Life 1920, 285-6).