NEW LEBANON –The Town of New Lebanon will be celebrating the bicentennial of its incorporation throughout the spring and summer months this year with a long menu of events highlighting the town’s history and all of the various businesses that call New Lebanon home. There was an NL200 kickoff event at the town hall on Saturday morning, March 3, with an emphasis on spirituality and religion in the town.
Town Supervisor Colleen Teal welcomed the gathering and in her opening remarks spoke of the goals of NL200: cohesion, pride and economic development. She introduced the Passport program, a booklet containing pages advertising 24 of the town’s premier destinations from the Lebanon Valley Speedway to the Mount Lebanon Shaker Museum to the Hilltown Country Smokehouse. A stamp from any 12 of these destinations gains the passport holder eligibility to a raffle at the end of the summer, the top prize being an iPad.
In her introduction of the Church of Our Savior, Mary (Godfroy) Young put the assembly into perspective with a narrative that began at the Garden of Eden and led to Columbia Hall and the healing waters of the Lebanon Springs, destination of the rich and famous and those wishing to be healed, and to the famous stone church on route 22 designed by Richard Upjohn and dedicated in 1881.
Next on the program was Monte Wasch who brought the spirit of the Shakers to the gathering, playing the keyboard and leading the group in a few Shaker songs. Then Wahida Janice Young spoke on behalf of the Abode of the Message, a Sufi community founded by Per Vilayat Inayt Kahn when a group of young people purchased the South Family buildings of the Mount Lebanon Shaker Community.
The community became the headquarters for the International Order of the Sufis. The Executive Director of the community, Al Bellenchia, spoke of the Abode’s new branding as an “Eco-Sufi Village” and described the new meditation and interspiritual center at the Abode, an effort to open the center to everybody.
Deacon Peter Quinn introduced Father John Close, Pastor of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, who spoke of the history of the church and the construction of its famous grotto which was modeled on the inspiration of the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in southern France. He said that occasionally a set of crutches or some other such item is found there, left by someone who is healed and no longer needs it. The church has survived two fires in its history.
An overview of the history of the valley was undertaken by town historian Kevin Fuerst who held up the framed reproduction of a 1710 painting of the Mahican Chief Eto Oh Koam, King of the River Nation. He talked about the Native American ancestry on the land.
Then Supervisor Teal introduced the newly redesigned town seal designed by Frank Rosiny. She concluded the proceedings by unveiling one of the new bicentennial banners that will be displayed around town.