Tuesday , November 13 2018
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A Look Back: Methodist Roots in Area Date Back to 1814

Methodist

Looking back through the history of the Methodist Church, I came across this old photo of the Methodist Choir from 1889.  Isn’t it awesome?! Plus, we know who the people are as well so we can include their names in the caption!

Now let’s learn all about this church!

As early as 1814, the Methodists were having regular services in a house on Lord’s Hill about eight miles east of Springville. By 1820, services were being held in a school house at Liberty Corners at the intersection of Routes 39 and 240. Some of the members on record then were James and Phoebe Hinman, Charles G. and Susan Wells and Salmon and Phoebe Shaw. In 1825, under the leadership of Rev. Loring Grant, the membership had grown so much that they moved yet again to Chapel Street, opposite of Fiddler’s Green Park, where they erected a new building.

There was fine cooperation between both the ministers and the people of the Baptist, Presbyterian and Methodist churches. This cooperation was so unusual in that day that it was noted in annual Conference minutes of the Genesee Conference.

By 1833, the numbers had grown to 203 members and continued to grow so much that, by 1863, a new brick building was dedicated on the northwest corner of Franklin and North Buffalo streets. The Board of Trustees included Stephen E. Tefft, W. H. Pingrey, Byron Wells, B. A. Lowe, H. G. Leland, L. M. Cummings, Frank Thurber, William McMullen and Newcomb Churchill.

The Springville Academy and the Methodist Conference Commission agreed upon terms for the church to take charge of the school in 1858 and Dr. David Copeland was the first principal. He became a member of the Methodist Quarterly Conference of First Church, as did other principals that followed. During this time, the school grew and was remodeled and enlarged. In 1873, the Methodists released their supervision and Griffith Institute became a public school.

In 1908, the rear of the church was enlarged to meet the demands of the programs and activities that were going on. Dr. Ralph Waite presented a beautiful memorial pipe organ.  In 1927, a baptismal font was added in memory of Lynn A. Thurber, the first young man from our area who lost his life in World War I while fighting in Europe.

From 1953 to 1958 under the leadership of Rev. Sim Berney, sufficient funds were gathered to begin another building for the church. Architect Earl Martin was chosen and plans were made.

The groundbreaking service was on April 7, 1957, when over 300 members and friends, equipped with shovels and tools, formed a living cross and broke the ground where the sanctuary would be. Dr. Harold McIlnay, the district superintendent, presented the service for this and for the laying of the cornerstone on Oct. 20, 1957.

The Preschool Learning Center, a school for the handicapped children, filled the educational facilities of the church for several years before it moved to its new site in January 1987.

If you look at the windows in the church, they tell the story of the life of Jesus as we move from the rear to the front of the church. Upon entering the church, the windows on the east side are in order of the birth, the baptism, the preaching and the Passion.

Moving the bell from the old church to the present building was quite a task. The bell was removed from the tower by a big crane. Enroute to the new location, the bell was taken to a weigh station and it was found to weigh 1,315 pounds! The bell was then hung in the present belfry. Harold Olmstead was the landscape architect. The stone for the patio came from the Meinches near the dam.

In 2000, another addition was added that provided a Family Life Center designed for dinners, retreats, community functions, conference meetings, sports and ministry to the area youth with basketball and volleyball.

From the beginning in 1814 to present, the Methodists have been present and supporting of the Town of Concord. They have been a part of the history of the town and village, seeing and being a part of the growth of our area.

Want to learn more history of the area? Stop by the Lucy Bensley Center located at 23 North Buffalo St. We are there Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call us at (716) 592-0094 or send us a email at lucybensleycenter@gmail.com.

Have some history or photo to show or share with us? Come and tell us all about it, we would love it, and you might even find a story in this paper using that information!

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