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After a rainy week, the sun shined Sunday on the descendents of Welsh settlers and their friends who celebrated more than 160 years of histo­ry at the Old Welsh country chapel in Cambria Township, near Colver. -
Families with ties to the church have been gathering for the annual church service, picnic, and the ­tradi­tional Welsh songfest known as Gymnafa Ganu for about 80 years.
Jan Davis, a historian with the Salem Homecoming Association,_ said the reunion brings people back to their roots.
''.The reunion and hearing the -
Welsh language sung and spoken are not happenings we can experience every day," Davis said. "It is very important to keep the Welsh heritage alive, and that's what is very special about this reunion. We not only are enjoying a special fel­lowship with all who come back for the reunion, and with God, but we also are preserving history."
"It is close to what you might have expected in a worship service many years ago. We try to bring as much Welsh history into the day as possible," said Davis, who has been­ attending reunions since the 1970s.
The church was organized in 1839 to serve the farmers who couldn't get to Ebensburg every week to attend services. Individuals worshiped at the home of Thomas and Rachel Davis for five years before moving the service to the home of Griffith and Ann Lloyd Owens with the Rev.-David.T. Lewis as minister.
In 1854, Edward Thomas pur­chased the land where the church was built.
"The-members of the church cleared the grounds and built it themselves," said Thomas Eyans, great-great-great-grandson of Thomas and president of the home­
coming association for many years. -
"There also was a building erect­ed where Sunday meals were served called the "Tu Bach,"' he said.
In 1853, the church became a mem­ber of the Pittsburgh Presbytery of Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Churches and in 1882, the congregation erected a new church, which stands today. In 1924, a meeting was held to dissolve the church, Evans said, because of changing times. However, four years earlier, Evaline Evans Jose had formed a homecoming association to perpetuate the memories, friends, and fellowship of the church. Reunions -were held from 1920 until1943, when the rationing of gasoline during World War ll discouraged unnecessary travel. They resumed after the war ended only Jo take a hiatus from 1972-82. A family wedding revitalized the church in 1978. Evans said his cousin Leslie Thomas' marriage brought his mother and other descendents out to spruce up the grounds for the ceremony.The association continues to maintain the grounds.
Dick Davis of Ebensburg reads Ninnaul, a North American Welsh newspaper.
"Ancestors of the church family come in from all over the country to attend this service and reunion," said Lois Morris of Ebensburg, whose late husband Hugh Morris, the nephew of Jose, served as president of the association for 31 years. "My husband was very interested in keeping this day alive because his aunt started the reunion and his whole family was involved,'' she
said. Lois serves as a trustee and plays the violin for worship. Hugh Morris' cousin. Kathy Jones of Fairfax, Va., said she makes the trip to Colver annually because of her heritage. "We always come. home for the reunion and visit the historical-society when we're here," she said. Lois Morris described the day as "a very historic remembrance."
Kate Griffith, 4, of Ebensburg enjoys the picnic.
"My grandmother took me in there when I was about 5 years old," she said.
As she reminisces, she realizes
Jose's purpose in initiating the reunion is indeed still alive.
"It's simply an old church where our ancestors went to worship and were very religious," she said. ''We respect them and we think of them a lot when we come here. You hear a little of that Welsh language is like music to your ears. We are able to socialize w1th people who we haven't seen for a long time and the very vibrant hymn sing and hearing one of the oldest languages on earth spoken make the day very worthwhile."
"Everything today clicked," Lois Morris said. "It seemed as though we all had our hearts in this day and that is what the reunion is all about."
Top photo: Scott Griffith of Ebensburg, Salem Homecoming Association first vice president, sings a Welsh hymn. Bottom photo: Carol Ellis leads the congregation in singing Welsh hymns during the Gymnafa Ganu.

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