Restoring faith and history at Rockingham Church

ROCKINGHAM – Tucked down a winding country road, on top of a steep hill, sits a small church. 
A handful of old tombstones dot the well-maintained grounds. Once inside, a guestbook welcomes people in the main foyer. It contains hundreds of names of people from all around the world who made the trip to the church over the years.  
It is a reminder that even though regular service halted at the Rockingham Church years ago, the church itself will never be forgotten.  
In fact, dozens of people made their way to the local church on August 11 to take part in the 13th annual service to honour the restoration of the church. 
The service is organized by the Friends of Rockingham Church. David Kelley is the president of the group and he welcomed everyone who attended on Sunday afternoon. 
While not in his usual period clothing, Kelley wore a traditional Irish suit to recognize An Irish Gathering, a 10-day gathering in Killaloe.  
He began by thanking the committee members that helped organize the annual event and thanked the people who maintained the grounds during the past year. 
After the congregation sang the traditional opening song, Church in the Wildwood, Ernie and Dave Peplinskie sang some traditional folk music for those in attendance. 
Guest speaker Reverend David Trafford was then asked to give some historical background on Rockingham.
While he did not grow up in the area, his mother was born and raised just down the road. Rev. Trafford admits he has a close connection to Rockingham Church. In fact, his grandfather attended a funeral at the church cemetery for one of the Mayflower victims.
“A few years ago, I stood also in this graveyard as one of the last originals of this community, Cecil Kinder, was laid to rest,” Trafford said. “I remember him very personally.”
Rev. Trafford said his mother grew up in a different era, and she did not have the luxuries that are available today. 
“There were no Tim Hortons stores,” he joked. “There were no McDonalds to have a Happy Meal at. The Happy Meals were made by mom.” 
Story continues in the August 14, 2013 issue of The Valley Gazette