By Vicky Taylor, The Public Opinion. (Pennsylvania)
CHAMBERSBURG – Descendants of town founder Col. Benjamin Chambers received the family’s annual “rose rent” from The Presbyterian Church of Falling Spring Sunday in a ceremony held at Chambers’ gravesite behind the church.
Joellen Hunter and Wayne Bundick, eighth-generation Chambers descendants, and Amber Hunter, a ninth-generation descendant, accepted the single rosebud from church trustee Debra Stewart and Deb Petrilla, a member of the Memorial Rose Committee at the church.
The rose always comes from a rose bush kept on the church grounds for the purpose of paying the annual rent.
It marked the 248th such ceremony in which Falling Spring’s congregation paid their annual tribute to Chambersburg’s founding family.
Chambersburg is unique in having three Rose Rent churches, all of which were given land to build houses of worship by Chambers in the 18th century.
Chambers, a Presbyterian and the congregation’s founder, gave Falling Spring’s congregation land for a church and cemetery on Jan. 1, 1768. His only request was that one rose be paid annually each June as rent to him, his wife, or their descendants.
Later, in 1780, he would give similar plots of land for the same purpose to Zion Reformed Church and First Lutheran Church.
In his sermon Sunday morning, Falling Spring’s pastor, the Rev. Andy Hart, called Benjamin Chambers a man of great vision and generosity, who used his land grant surrounding the confluence of the Falling Spring and Conococheague Creek in the middle of what would eventually become Franklin County to lay out the town that became Chambersburg, and gave land not just to the church he had founded, but to other congregations who sprang up as the community grew over the years.
“I wonder what we could learn from Col. Benjamin Chambers, who gave us this land in return for the bud of a rose,” he told his congregation.