BSUMC History



The following information on the history of Broad St. UMC was written by our church historian, Sylvia McNitt. It includes 36 entries from March through November, 2013.

March 11, 2013

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “If I have faith, it means that I have decided to do something and am willing to stake my life upon it.” Werner Heisenberg, Physicist

Our Journey Begins….

We Methodists of Norwich are proud of our church, its heritage, and all its tomorrows….

Not many are aware that Methodism in Norwich started around 1815, through missionaries, and the preachers who happened by on horseback, called circuit riders. But it was not long before a Society was organized in 1820, and incorporated in 1827.

Our first church was built in 1834, a wooden structure just right of our present brick one today. It served the community for forty years before we outgrew it. Our present church was erected in 1873 and turned 140 years old in January, and there is much to be said about its history. Both churches have been through many changes, and financial crisis through good times and bad. Then and now, our church is still a monument of hope, love, and faith that has never wavered.

Our church has two steeples; the smaller is 115 feet and the larger a towering 190 feet. The latter is visible from most entrances into the city… it is a landmark, a beacon of hope. Many who see it for the first time marvel at its beauty. Each steeple top is graced with a beautiful 10-foot metal ornament.

The 190 foot steeple has a whole history of its own. Just to think that in 1933, after a tornado-type storm went through Norwich, the steeple took a hit and was badly twisted, and even was said to have a sway to it. The trustees at that time were positive that it would have to be taken down. It almost was…. But when it was looked at more closely, by an architect, it was suggested that it be reinforced instead. Removing it would have been far more expensive.

The towering spire of our church leads our thinking upward, Godward. The very structure is a visible expression to us of the living Gospel of Jesus Christ.

So, I for one am forever thankful that our steeple is still proudly gracing our church building today. Next time you pass by the church look at the steeple, and keep in mind that we almost lost it.


On October 2, 2003, our Church was listed on the National Register of Historical Places. It is listed as the Methodist Episcopal Church of Norwich, Chenango County, New York.

To be Continued…

Next week, I will write about the many name changes that our Society and two churches went through….

March 18, 2013

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Home, with Jesus Christ at the center, is a place where members of the family sustain and support each other in love.” Harold Blake Walker

Our Journey Continues….

In 1820, a class composed of twelve people, was organized in the village of Norwich, by The Rev. Reuben Reynolds. Reynolds was a local preacher and the meetings were held in his home on West Main Street on the site where the present Congregational Church is today.

He later moved his class to the corner of Pleasant and North Broad streets, and there he continued holding services with much success. He later held a revival which resulted in 100 more members… Other classes started to form within the village, and soon it was decided to combine all the classes.

So, at a meeting of the members, on January 2, 1827, the classes incorporated a Society, and trustees were elected… it was called, “The First Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Norwich.”

At their second meeting held on January 27, 1827, it was decided that an effort would be made to build a church. A building committee consisting of three was appointed, and their role was to obtain a draft for the proposed church. On February 24, 1827, three more members were appointed to purchase a site for the church. This endeavor took many years.

Therefore, the Society reincorporated on January 27, 1834, electing new trustees, and kept its original name. A lot was purchased and our first church was built and dedicated in the summer of 1836.

When the congregation began to outgrow the church, our present one was built in 1873-1875. The first church was torn down in 1874, and in 1884 we lost our church by foreclosure. But, in 1885 we redeemed it, and at that time it was renamed as “The Broad Street Methodist Episcopal Church of Norwich.”

In 1909, due to a split between the Methodist Protestant church over lay representation, our church was once again renamed as, “The Broad Street Methodist Church.”

In 1939, the groups reunited to form the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church, and formed the United Methodist Church. In 1968 our church was then renamed as it still remains today as, “The Broad Street United Methodist Church.”


In 1958, the Methodist Church permitted women to be ordained as ministers.

To be Continued…

Next week, I will write about the Circuit Riders and how they fit into the scheme of things…

March 25, 2013

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Ask yourself the question: What am I doing to help bring light to the dark places of our world.” Robert Ozment

Our Journey Continues….

Circuit riders or Saddlebag preachers are popular terms referring to clergy in the earliest years of the United States who were assigned to travel around specific geographic territories to minister to settlers and organize congregations. Circuit riders were clergy in the Methodist Episcopal Church and related denominations.

Bishop Francis Ashbury set the pace, by himself traveling a record of 270,000 miles and preaching over 16,000 sermons in the early 1800s. He ordained many circuit riders, one being Silas Comfort who preached here in Norwich in 1826.

Being a circuit rider was a harsh task, riding a horse through storms of wind, snow, and rain: climbed hills and mountains, traversed valleys, plunged through swamps, swollen streams, lay out all night, wet, weary, and hungry. He slept with his saddle blanket for a bed, and his saddlebags for a pillow. If he was lucky he slept in dirty cabins, and ate whatever nourishment was offered him along the way. This was the old-fashioned Methodist fare and fortune. Not only did the preacher face physical hardship, but often endured persecution. Many were pursued by the wicked, beaten, and left for dead. It is no wonder most of these preachers died before their careers had hardly begun. Of those that died up to 1847, nearly half were less than 30 years old. Many were too worn out to travel.

Wesley’s Hymnals were in the saddlebags of every pioneer preacher along with a Bible, who came to the region in the earliest days. Cheerful melodies filled the woods and banished gloom. Before preaching, our circuit riders warmed up by singing the God’s praises. Joy filled the camp meetings as songs echoed their faith.

In the Norwich area, from 1798 to 1836 we had close to 18 circuit riders that found their way here every two or three weeks, paving the way for our eventual Societies and Churches. What a blessing it must have been to experience these pioneers of our faith.

DID YOU KNOW???? There is record of our Monthly Newsletters from 1988 to 1990 in which they were entitled “The Circuit Rider.”

To be Continued… Next week, I will continue this writing about how the Circuit Riders role became a part of our heritage….

April 1, 2013

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God….” Colossians 3:17 (RSV)

Our Journey Continues….

During post-Revolutionary America the Methodists were among the fastest growing churches. Between 1770 and 1820, Methodist churches grew from less than 1,000 members to more than 250,000. In 1775, fewer than one out of 800 Americans were Methodists. By 1812, a short 37 years later, one out of every 36 Americans were Methodists.

The reason for the religion’s success was the circuit riders who provided church structure with peaching and the distribution of sacraments to those in small communities that otherwise would not have been able to afford or attract any minister.

The earliest history of circuit riders in our area was in 1798, when the first circuit called the Chenango circuit was formed by Rev. Jonathan Newman, and Freeborn Garrettson, who served as Presiding Elder. The circuit embraced the Chenango and Unadilla valleys that included many small and remote hill hamlets.

In 1804, the Methodist Episcopal General Conference decreed that no pastor was to serve the same appointment for more than two consecutive years. Once a pastor was assigned a circuit, it was his responsibility to conduct worship and visit members of each church in his charge on a regular basis in addition to possibly establishing new churches. He was supervised by a Presiding Elder (now called a District Superintendent) who would visit each charge four times a year.

Methodism in Norwich was recognized by the Wyoming Conference in 1815, and it was not long before we had established local preachers, and classes forming which eventually led to the building of our first church.

It was a long hard road the circuit riders traveled from 1798 to 1835, but their hearts and souls were always in the right place and their accomplishments gave us a church we can be proud of today and always.

DID YOU KNOW???? The original saddlebags belonging to Freeborn Garrettson, one of the first circuit riders in this area, are on display in the Drew Theological Seminary in Madison, New Jersey.

To be Continued… Next week, I will begin a mini-series with interesting insight of the founders of our church….

April 8, 2013

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Faith in Christ is the clue to the meaning of history . . . The keys of both person and history are behind God’s door.” –George A. Buttrick

Our Journey Continues….

Close your eyes for a minute and try to imagine what our community was like in its early stages of development in the late 1700s and early 1800s. There were no radios, televisions, cars, trains, paved roads or a church. But only a few log cabins and businesses scattered here and there. The mere necessities of survival were uppermost in everyday life. Eventually as more people began to settle in Norwich, it began to grow, and more homes were built and businesses flourished.

Now, open your eyes and we will take a look at a man that brought these residents what was missing in their lives… Father Reynolds came to Norwich, from where it is not clear in any search, but the important thing is that he came. He was a man of God and his sole purpose was to bring Christianity to the people. Rev. Reuben Reynolds was a local preacher, not a circuit rider that came through every few months. He lived among the people and walked the same streets and shopped at the same stores.

It was in his own home on West Main Street in 1820, that he offered classes to anyone who would like to attend. At first, he did have a following of about eight people, one was a freed slave named Mrs. Randall. As interest grew, so did his classes, and it was then that he moved his class meetings to the corner of Pleasant and North Broad Streets. At the very first meeting at the new location, Father Reynolds was appointed the leader of this small gathering of 12, therefore forming the first society in Norwich. It was not very long after this that he held a revival, which resulted in an additional 100 members.

Before long other classes started to form at different locations in the village. All of these classes continued to grow in attendance and by 1827 all the classes including Father Reynolds class united as one, and became incorporated as the “The First Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Norwich.” Seven trustees were elected, one being Father Reynolds. In the writings of our history, it is not clear where the new Society held their meetings, but plans to build a church became their main priority. But, it would be many years for this dream to come true.

Father Reynolds was the founder of the beginning of a larger picture in which he was completely embedded in as pastor, trustee, leader, friend to all, and respected by all. As he quietly appeared in the lives of the Methodist people of Norwich, he also faded away without a trace, for after his last appearance at the cornerstone ceremony in 1873 at the age of 82, history of him is unknown where he went or when….

DID YOU KNOW???? The home of Father Reynolds on West Main Street in 1820 is the site of the present Congregational Church today.

To be Continued… Next week, I will continue this mini-series on the founders of our church…

April 15, 2013

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Not everyone can be famous, but everyone can be great in the sight of God. He can be the kind of person who is remembered with gratitude by friends and neighbors because of the loving service he has rendered” –Unknown Author

Our Journey Continues….

Ansel Berry was one of the founders of our first church, and I want you to get to know him and how important the Methodist Church was in his life.

He was born in 1805 in Connecticut, moved to Norwich in 1826, shortly after he married. He had given up farming and decided to learn the hatter trade under an apprenticeship. Ansel went into a co-partnership with Thomas Merrill in 1830 and they opened a hat store in Norwich. Not long after his partner retired in 1854, Ansel sold the business to pursue other endeavors.

He was a man who had worn many hats in his lifetime, as a business owner, a building contractor, a Coroner, a Supervisor and Village Trustee. In 1856, he was elected to the Assembly, and served as the President of the Board of Trustees.

In addition to all this he was one of the first trustees appointed to the First Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Norwich in 1827. Ansel was on the committee to purchase a lot for the church, and in 1835, this was accomplished when a deed was executed on May 2, 1835 by Walter Conkey and his wife Frances with the trustees of the Society.

Once the lot was secured plans were drawn up and put into place to build the church. Ansel did not hesitate to obligate himself to lay the basement story of the Meeting House for $200.00, of which half was his share of his subscription, by volunteering his services, and the other half he would be paid later. Once the basement was finished, Ansel also was involved in the completion of the rest of the church right down to its last pillar and the steeple.

He was considered a liberal with his benefactions and deeded a house he owned to be used as a parsonage on Mill Street to the church, today known as Cortland Street. He was a very devoted member of the church right up to his death.

A few years before his death on July 10, 1870, he gave a Pewter Communion Service to the Church to be used in the first church building. Little did he know at the time what a history this Communion Service would have over the next 100 plus years…

DID YOU KNOW???? The 1870 village charter was passed while Ansel Berry was in the Legislature.

To be Continued… Next week, I will bring to life the history of the Pewter Communion Service…

April 22, 2013

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “The man of faith knows God; he cannot explain Him… He accepts life from the hand of God and returns life into his hand. All this is wonderful and undescribable.” —M.K.W. Heicher

Our Journey Continues….

First, I want to share a little background history on how Pewter Flagons, Chalices, and Patens (or plates) came into use in the church.

In the British museums there are several pieces of church pewter dating back to the times when the Romans invaded and occupied the British Isles. One piece, a chalice, dates to 200 A.D. It was found in the coffin of a priest during excavations near some Roman ruins in England.

In England during the eleventh century the Council of Winchester ordered that pewter be allowed to be made into chalices for use in poor perishes instead of wooden ones then in use. The chalices used in wealthy churches were made of gold or silver. So, for 1700 years or until the end of the 19th century pewter was the metal used in communion services when the church did not have the funds for gold or silver pieces.

Some who are wondering what pewter is… it is a name of an alloy in which the chief ingredients are tin and antimony or tin and lead. Bismuth is occasionally added for the same as antimony – that is to harden the metal. The more tin there is in the alloy, the better the metal.

Now the Pewter Communion Service that was given to our first church by Ansel Berry, was one of only five known sets made by a company called Reed and Barton. At the time it is believed to have been a complete set including a flagon, two chalices, and two plates.

Not long after Ansel passed away, his wife gave our first church a Complete Silver Service in his memory. As a result the Pewter Communion Service was given to The Second Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church in King Settlement which was organized around 1835. This church ended its services in 1921.

Apparently the Pewter Service had been taken to the King home for safekeeping when it was not in use. Therefore, when Mr. King, one of the original founders of the church decided to sell his home the Pewter Service was still in his possession. He offered to return it to our present church, but only if we would display it. Unfortunately, there was little interest in it at that time, since no one in our church knew the history of the Pewter set and its significance to us so no one took the responsibility of getting the set and displaying it.

The set was then disposed of to a dealer along with other household goods when Mr. King moved…

DID YOU KNOW???? King Settlement was erected in 1795 by two brothers George and John King Jr. sons of Capt. John King, a pioneer Methodist who formed the first Methodist church in his home in New England in 1779.

To be Continued… Next week, the Pewter Communion Service saga will continue…

April 29, 2013

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “If God is your partner, make your plans large.” Dwight L. Moody

Our Journey Continues….

Shortly after Mrs. Charles O’Keefe became our church historian in 1973, the church became more interested in our history and we were just beginning to awaken to our heritage.

Not long after Mrs. O’Keefe became our historian, Pastor Davies received a letter from Mr. John Feyko of Walden, New York, who wanted to know if we could tell him about the Pewter Flagon and Chalices he had recently acquired. Rev. Davies passed this letter on to Mrs. O’Keefe for further action.

There were many letters exchanged between Mr. Feyko and Mrs. O’Keefe from 1968 to 1973. In his first letter, dated February 22, 1968, Mr. Feyko indicated that he was a pewter collector, and when he discovered that our church was connected to the communion set he had purchased he was most anxious to learn of its history. He wrote that one of the missing links was the date of Ansel Berry’s death that he needed to finish a documentation he was completing on the pewter set.

In this same letter he stated that when he finished the documentation he would send our church a copy, adding if the church was interested in repossessing the set he would make provisions in his will that it be given to the church upon his death.

Mrs. O’Keefe after checking into our history, responded to this first letter, filling Mr. Feyko in on some of the early history of our church and our connection to the King Settlement church, the King family, and how the set came to be in their possession. She also gave him the date of Ansel Berry death along with his long history and association with our first church.

In his following correspondences with Mrs. O’Keefe, it seems that inside the Flagon the booklet that was written by Mrs. Ida King in 1944, at the age of 83, which mentioned Ansel Berry and his gift of the Pewter set to our first church, was what had led him to us to start his search of its origin. Mr. Feyko went on to say that he had purchased the set from the dealer who had acquired some of the properties of Mr. King. When Mr. Feyko purchased the set it was in poor condition, dented and quite dirty, but inside was the Ida King booklet which confirmed where the set had originally come from. But unfortunately the Patens have yet to be found.

A year later, in a letter dated January 5, 1969, after much searching for the missing Patens or plates, Mr. Feyko wrote to our historian that he feared they were lost forever, and at that time offered our church the opportunity to display the now refurbished set for a short time if we would like to.

DID YOU KNOW???? Ansel Berry died on July 10, 1870, his wife Hannah died July 3, 1890, almost 20 years to the day… they are both buried at Mount Hope Cemetery…

To be Continued… Next week, I will continue the Pewter Communion Service saga…

May 6, 2013

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “ To proclaim liberty … is not simply to echo a slogan; it is to engage in a continuing human adventure.” Roger Shinn

Our Journey Continues….

In a letter written by Mrs. Charles O’Keefe to Mr. Feyko, on March 12, 1969, she expressed the church’s interest in having the Pewter communion set displayed at our church, but there were a few problems… how to get it to our church, and what mutual date could be arranged.

Our church, because of many other commitments only had the first two Sundays in April open that year, but Mr. Feyko, was unfortunately otherwise occupied until late summer, so this was not a good time for him. A suggestion was made that perhaps arrangements could be made for someone from our church to personally pick up the Pewter set. However, this did not pan out…

At the time our church was in the process of preparing for our 100th anniversary and time slipped by, until a letter dated October 8, 1973 was received from Mr. Feyko, informing us that even though he had stated in past letters that the set would be returned to us upon his death, he decided he wanted to waive that and give the set to us now, as a gift with no strings attached.

Mrs. O’Keefe responded immediately to his letter with much enthusiasm that our church was thrilled about his offer, and the timing could not be better, since our Centennial was being planned. But she had to go through the process of meeting with the pastor and trustees to get their approval of Mr. Feyko generous offer.

A week later the trustees of our church unanimously voted to accept his offer, and in doing so, it was agreed upon that someone would be appointed to make the trip to Mr. Feyko home in Waldon, New York to pick up the set. A letter was sent to Mr. Feyko, accepting his offer, and letting him know that in the near future a formal presentation would be made which was to yet be announced.

On November 4, 1973, the Pewter Communion Service was returned to our church. What excitement it must have been to actually have it in our possession after one-hundred years… the impossible had happened…

Now plans were being made to formally present the set to our trustees and the congregation, but again some kinks arose….

DID YOU KNOW???? It took five years of extensive research by a combined effort of Mr. Feyko, and Mrs. O’Keefe to track down the origin and details of the Pewter set… a journey well-traveled…

To be Continued… Next week, I will continue the Pewter Communion Service saga…

May 13, 2013

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “I did not have my Mother long, but she cast over me an influence which lasted all my life. The good effects of her early training I can never lose. If it had not been for her appreciation and her faith in me at a critical time in my experience, I should never likely have become an inventor…my mother was the making of me. The memory of her will always be a blessing to me” —Thomas A. Edison

Our Journey Continues….

It was finally decided to have a special service on December 9, 1973 to formally accept the Pewter set back to our church. But, it was unfortunate that Mr. Feyko would not be making the trip to do the honors, so in his absence our historian Mrs. Charles O’Keefe, would fill in for him. This was only appropriate because according to Mr. Feyko, she was responsible for helping him connect the dots by supplying him with many leads that led him to finding the history of the Pewter set.

In a letter to the church, dated November 28, 1973, Mr. Feyko, thanked the church and its people for the pleasure he derived from the possession of the flagon and chalices and the greater pleasure of searching the history of our wonderful church and the beautiful people who put it all together.

At the special service in December, Mrs. O’Keefe proudly presented the set to the then Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Albert Evans, saying:“Mr. Evans, I present this flagon and chalices to you for Mr. and Mrs. John J.D. Feyko who so generously have returned them to us after man years of their being away from our Church. I hope the Trustees will give them a loving care, and in the near future provide a proper display case where all of us can see them and remember the love with which they were once given by Ansel Berry, and the love with which they have been returned to us.”

It was one of the first scheduled events to commemorate our 100th anniversary.

A special display case was made and the Pewter set was placed on display in the Sanctuary shortly after it was presented to us in 1973.

But can you believe that forty years later, in February this year, while checking out the pewter display in the church Sanctuary for our upcoming Heritage celebration that sometime in the past year the pair of ancient pewter chalices went missing. After searching the church, one of the chalices was located but the other is still at large. It is our hope that the chalice will be returned to us in the near future so our set will again be complete and we can display it as it was in the past, because it is an invaluable part of our history… keep us in your prayers….

DID YOU KNOW???? On May 28th this year our present Church turns 140 years old…

To be Continued… Next week, I will go a little off the beaten path, and take a look at John Feyko in a different light….

May 20, 2013

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “One of our greatest gifts my father gave to his family was a good name.” Pastor Edgar L. Brill

Our Journey Continues….

When Mr. John Feyko returned our Pewter set to us, it was an unforgettable moment in our history…

Because of his love of Pewter, he gave back something that he could have kept for himself, but he didn’t. So, I want you to see how devoted he was to his passion. Mr. Feyko worked in Walden, NY as an Industrial Relations Supervisor at a company called Interstate Bag. Many years ago an elderly lady who knew his great love and knowledge of pewter, gave him an old pewter spoon.

This spoon, it was discovered was one of the first to be cast in Walden, dating back to the 18th century, and while at an auction in 1973, John found a 18th century spoon mold and of course you can just imagine his excitement. John said, “It was like finding a needle in a haystack.” marveling at his luck…

John and a friend who helped him cast a spoon from that very mold, which was almost a match, but not quite… but very close to the old spoon he had received years before.

This process was very time consuming, a lot of time was spent on creating the right mixture of metals to get the same ratio of tin, antimony and copper used in the original. Once the metal was ready, they poured it into the mold, but the first ones were not successful spoons.

John and his friend got quite an education, finding they had to learn how to treat the mold, for one thing to blacken the mold with soot, to keep the hot pewter flowing through without chilling halfway down. After throwing out many spoons, finally one was perfect. They were able to make about 12 spoons a week, and were so excited about this because they had a bi-centennial year coming up in 1976 in Walden.

Later in subsequent castings it proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Walden Spoon was indeed cast in this old mold. What a wonderful day it must have been for Mr. Feyko to accomplish this piece of history for his hometown.

This was all going on while Mr. Feyko was corresponding with Mrs. O’Keefe, our then historian in regards to our Pewter Communion Set.

DID YOU KNOW???? Mr. Feyko sent us a copy of the offer for this very spoon… but there is no record of us purchasing one…

To be Continued… Next week, my personal view of our Sancturary…

May 27, 2013

QUOTE OF THE WEEK “Christ may come as Guest, but He remains as Host.” James S. Stewart

Our Journey Continues….

When I walk into the sanctuary I feel welcome, at peace, loved, and closer to God…

Barry and I were married here in the sanctuary on January 1, 1965, over 48 years ago but, I can still see and feel the quietness of that day each time I enter it… the church alter was decorated with dozens of poinsettia plants… and before any guests arrived for the ceremony, I had the opportunity to be solely alone in the sanctuary for a brief time, and it was one of the most awesome moments of my life. The stillness and beauty that surrounded me was heart pounding but still held a powerful quietness in my heart… a lasting presence…

Have you ever thought about how many people have walked through these doors, to worship, attend baptisms, weddings, funerals, or just to pray together or alone in their hour of despair or need. It has to be beyond counting over the past hundred and forty plus years. Just to think that now each one of us are included among that number today.

Whenever I sit in the sanctuary, I marvel at its beauty… the pressed tin ceiling with the two brass chandeliers, the two-story stained glass windows that depict biblical scenes…. when the sun shines through them it is unbelievably spectacular… Just thinking of the incredible artistic talent and workmanship alone is astoundingly incredible.

Our sanctuary can seat up to 1000 people and each pew was at one point in time filled to capacity and beyond…. Try to just imagine that…

The furnishing of the sanctuary are richly decorated with carpeting, seat cushions, pews, and the balcony and pulpit furniture in wood work of black walnut and ash.

Today banners hang from the balcony that were made for our enjoyment by the women of the church, and a children’s corner for quiet time during services…

I have to mention that we all should be thankful for the faithfulness of the trustees past and present, for taking special care of our church building… it is an endless job, and well worth the effort and expense.

I, for one, have a lot of love for our stately old building and I know most people do follow that thought…

DID YOU KNOW???? In 1914 our church membership reached 1439.

To be Continued… the Next two weeks I will be occupied with preparing for Heritage weekend, and will resume the weekly articles on June 17th…..

June 17, 2013

QUOTE OF THE WEEK “One lesson and one lesson only, history may be said to repeat with distinctiveness, that the world is built somehow on moral foundations. That, in the long run, it is well with the good, and, in the long run, ill with the wicked. ” J. K. Froude, Historian

Our Journey Continues….

Last weekend we celebrated our Heritage Weekend at Broad Street United Methodist Church….

The open house was enjoyed by many and well-received by all that attended on Saturday the 8th of June.

Although it must have been overwhelming to try to absorb so much in a short time, there was undoubtedly something that caught the eye of many as they wandered throughout the building and the fellowship hall…

I noticed that the timeline attracted many as well as the rare exhibit of our artifacts; in addition to the many photo albums and bulletin boards… some even recognized themselves in their younger years in many of the photos displayed. It was just heartwarming to see the interest in all the displays in general.

Although it took well over six-months to organize and display the material of our church’s history, the three hours that it was enjoyed through the eyes of the people who attended made it well worth the time and effort by bringing them the enjoyment of viewing the history of our wonderful church.

It is my hope that each person went away with at least some little fact or memory of what they saw, and that they at least took some of that history home with them by taking the many free items, book and articles that were available to them to read and enjoy later at their convenience.

All in all I felt blessed that there was an interest in helping us celebrate our story…

DID YOU KNOW???? On May 28th this year our present Church turns 140 years old…

To be Continued… Next week, I will begin to explore the history of the artifacts that are displayed on the south wall of the fellowship hall…

June 24, 2013

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “ Don’t tell God what you can or can’t do; He already knows.” Unknown Author

Our Journey Continues….

Just a few weeks ago the oval-framed photograph of Rev. Herbert L. Ellsworth was moved from the North wall to the south wall of the fellowship Hall.

Rev. Ellsworth served our church, The Broad Street Methodist Episcopal Church from 1908-1909…

There is very little information about him in our archives that I have, but I did manage to dig up an old article that gives us adequate data about his life.

He was born January 13, 1865, in LeRaysville, Pa.

His early years were spent on his father’s farm, and at age 16 began teaching school. In 1884, he entered the Wyoming Seminary, graduating in 1888, Valedictorian of his class. In 1884 he had received his local preacher’s license from the Kingston Quarterly Conference.

Later, in 1888-1889 he pursued his studies at Drew Theological Seminary followed by post graduate studies at Syracuse University from 1890-1891.

He married Miss May Pembleton of Tioga Center, NY in November 1891…

It is noted that while at Syracuse University his health broke down and he was forced to relinquish his studies, but he renewed them later at Illinois Wesleyan University in 1897, where he earned a degree of A.B. in 1900. He was considered one of the scholarly men of the Wyoming conference.

In 1908 he became the newly appointed pastor to the Broad Street Methodist Episcopal Church in Norwich.

During the short time he served here he founded The Ellsworth Bible Class with great success.

But, his pastorate with us was shortened due to his failing health, resulting in his obligation to give up preaching altogether.

Sadly, he passed away about a year and a half after serving at our church on August 18, 1911, at the age of 46.

July 1, 2013

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Most people nowadays accept without a word of gratitude the privileges that have come to them… Ought we not to praise God for the labor of thousands, most of whom are unknown to us.” Frank H. Ballard

Our Journey Continues….

The Sumner Bennington Memorial is mounted on the south wall of the fellowship hall… recently it was discovered that it is graced with a shining light that can be turned on at will to really enjoy its beauty close up.

Sumner Bennington was a long-standing member of our church and served in many leadership roles. He was also a well-known contractor and builder of many homes in Norwich and the surrounding communities. Upon his death in 1982, a group of concerned citizens proposed that a memorial be established… As a result, Earl Sincerbox was commissioned to create an artistic piece to be sculptured out of wood.

Before Mr. Sincerbox could even begin this relic, he deeply researched the philosophy of Methodism and the characteristics of the Protestant art. Through his research he found that Methodism was a movement started by John Wesley to address the needs of the improvised during the 18thcentury, adding, that Wesley was a social reformer before his time, providing work, food, and clothing to the poor and relief for debtors.

Also, through his research of sacred art he discovered that Protestant artists were allowed to interpret the scriptures more freely than their Catholic counterparts. In the Medieval Catholic Church, art had instructive purposes for the illiterate, therefore sacred art was highly regulated by the church. Coinciding with the Protestant Reformation was the invention of the printing press, which allowed a greater portion of the population to read, therefore diminishing the need for instructional art. Because of this, Protestant artists were able to pursue more secular subjects, such as honoring the value of common tasks and combining divine and human aspects into one piece.

So, in the first stages of creating this Memorial, Mr. Sincerbox, after much research, considered symbols of Christianity in executing the piece. The universal symbol for Christianity, the Latin Cross, also symbolizes the burden we bear as Christians.

Using different themes of aiding each other, the blending of secular and divine subject matters and the burdens Christians must bear, was when he came across Galatians 6:2, which he believed was consistent with Bennington’s contributions to the church and community, and the philosophy of the church.

To be Continued… Next week, we will look closer at the steps leading up to the creation of the Memorial…

July 8, 2013

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Real religion is a stream of power which has its rise in God, flows through Him to others, through them to us, and through us on to yet others” Samuel M. Shoemaker

Our Journey Continues….

The beginnings of the Sumner Bennington Memorial began long before Earl Sincerbox laid a knife to wood. When he met with the committee to find out what they wanted and how he was going to implement his ideas to their liking he was more than pleased to abide…. He was asked to prepare some rough sketches of the proposed memorial…. But to accomplish this was no small task…

He was asked by many people how he came up with an idea for a sculpture? One of the things he had to do as mentioned in last week’s article was to research the Methodist church…. The Second question asked was how did he build or create it?

He accomplished this by building a concept for the sculpture by conceiving a plan or idea by developing a theme…. To do this he had to have many basic questions answered about Sumner Bennington and his life.

They were as follows:

(1) Why a memorial in his honor? His reputation? His public esteem? His contribution to his church? What was there about it that signaled his contribution as being so worthy and notable?

(2) How to tie the church into his theme? How and why was his church organized? Who was the founder? What was his religious philosophy?

So, Mr. Sincerbox, after much research and getting the answers to the above questions concluded that he had a three-fold objective. 1- Honor the character of Mr. Bennington. 2- Stay within the grounds of limitations of Protestant Art and the Methodist Church. 3- Conceive a subject that will tie the individual and religion together and teach a Christian value.

With all this in mind Mr. Sincerbox now knew what he wanted to accomplish in the mural… but questioned how he would get there….

To be Continued… Next week, we will begin to follow in the footsteps of Mr. Sincerbox as he begins his creation of the Memorial…

July 15, 2013

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “It will often be true that when God would minister and help somebody, He will need your life or mine. He will reach through our friendship to help others.” Robert E. Goodrich, Jr.

Our Journey Continues….

Earl Sincerbox, as an artist, from the prospective of holding up a mirror, no more or no less so that each person that would look at the finished product would have a different feeling and reaction. Each of us has had our own cross to bear, or perhaps have been fortunate enough to have been able to help a friend bear their cross.

The mural is perhaps a statement of what Christianity is about according to Mr. Sincerbox. Only in the gospel of John chapter 19 does Christ carry the cross. The Calvery Cross is the Latin cross set on a pedestal of three graded steps which stands for Faith, Hope, and Love.

In further research of the Initials & Cross… IHS or IHC… the first three letters are Greek for Jesus…

INRI – abbreviation for Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews… which was inscribed on a scroll and nailed above Christ’s head when he was crucified.

Therefore there are no initials on this cross in the mural, because it is a personal cross. Whereas, each of us must put our initials upon this cross as we are the ones that bear it.

Therefore, on the finished mural it is only fitting that it says… “Bear Ye one Another’s Burdens” – Gal-6:2..

It was decided that the mural would be made from Cherry wood… Why?? Symbolically cherry represents the Fruit of Paradise… as one of the trees in the garden of Paradise, the cherry tree with its abundant fruit became a symbol of eternal life.

As it turned out, Cherry wood is a local hardwood and was also a favorite of Sumner Bennington, and the piece that the mural was carved from was actually from Mr. Bennington’s barn, weighing in at 80 pounds.

Now that the vision was clear on what the completed mural would look like, a clay model was made and presented to the board for approval…

Days later, Mr. Sincerbox began his year and a half task of completing the mural….

To be Continued… Next week, we will continue to follow in the footsteps of Mr. Sincerbox as his creation of the Memorial is competed

July 22, 2013

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “When you worship: your conscience is quickened by God’s holiness; your mind is nourished by God’s truth; your heart is enlarged by God’s love; Your will is surrendered to the purposes of God for you as an individual and for society of which you are a responsible member.” Donald Coggan, Archbishop of Canterbury

Our Journey Continues….

Earl Sincerbox incorporated the help of many human models to assist him as he progressed with the carving of the sculpture….

He was most fortunate to have many people involved with this project that he publicly thanked who each gave freely of their time, and many who tirelessly worked as models when he needed them. They were as follows:

Mrs. Charlotte Heotis who had asked him if he was interested in the project

Rev. Thomas Taylor for helping him with the endless hours of research

Bruce Webster from Sherburne who helped him in the selection and preparation of the cherry wood in his shop

Mrs. Linda Getchonis as chairwoman of the committee and her encouragement and council

James Nelson who came to his house two different times to pose for him when he ran into anatomy problems

His three grandchildren Mark, Pam and Kevin who posed for him out in public with a cross on their shoulders

Miss Margo Chocchetto, daughter of my next door neighbor, for modeling

Paul Rice his next door neighbor who helped him when the Mural got to heavy

To his wife Theresa for her constructive criticism and tolerating all of the woodchips on the living room rug

And lastly the members of the church and the committee for the confidence that was placed in his ability to conceive the sculptor a mural that was acceptable. He only hoped that he had not let us down… and indeed he did not… it is still today a magnificent work of art.

To be Continued… Next week, we will take a look at the dedication services of the mural…

July 29, 2013

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “ When we pray rightly and properly, we ask nothing else than what is contained in the Lord’s Prayer.” St. Augustine

Our Journey Continues….

The Sumner Bennington Memorial was unveiled and dedicated on December 2, 1984.

It had taken Earl Sincerbox two years and eight months to complete the mural which included much research and many hours of faithful labor.

One part of the mural that needs to be brought to your attention is that the middle figure in the mural, helping to carry the cross was carved out of an unknown variety of wood. This figure represents the unknown good Samaritan.

During the dedication services Rev. Thomas Taylor spoke and ended the ceremony by saying, “The sculpture was eternal in the sense that it would exist longer than us and it captured Bennington’s integrity, compassion, love and faith. These qualities are God-like and are therefore eternal.”

Esther Bennington, thanked Earl Sincerbox, the community and the congregation for this memorial for her late husband, by saying in part, “Only Christ can ever repay you. I’m grateful He let me live to see the completion of your work. My love goes out to everyone of you.”

It is also interesting to note here that the mural was mounted on the south wall directly opposite the Cross which is on the north wall.

So, next time you are in the fellowship hall take a really good look at this memorial…. It is truly a beautiful work of art that will bring pleasure for many years to come to those who look deep into its meaning.

Did you know… the Bennington Memorial was paid for totally by contributions from the members of the congregation. There was a small amount left over, and was used to defray expenses in completing the pew cushion project and was given in memory of Sumner Bennington by his wife Esther.

To be Continued… Next week, I will start exploring a subject that is most fascinating….

August 5, 2013


“The year is closed, the record made,.

The last deed done, the last word said,

The memory alone remains

Of all its joys, its griefs, its gains,

And now with purpose full and clear,

We turn to meet another year.

Robert Browning

Our Journey Continues….

What does Pew Renting mean? It is when a pew is rented for sitting in the church for a specified period of time that could last one Sunday or a lifetime.

Odd as this may sound the practice of Pew Renting came into existence in the Church under the Church Building Acts which was passed in 1818. Originally, its purpose was a legitimate a way of fund-raising for new churches.

It was very common in American churches in 1860, when the Free Methodist Church was founded. It was not unusual for a family to rent a pew for as much as $100 a year, and at times pews were bought and sold as personal property, legally becoming part of an estate that heirs would inherit.

It was obvious that the rich could afford this luxury, but the poor could not, and as a result many pews were set aside for the poor at no cost… but many did not attend church for the simple reason they did not want to more or less advertise their poverty status.

There is evidence through a pamphlet report dated May 19, 1890, which is in our possession of church history artifacts where it is revealed that the then called the Broad Street Methodist Episcopal Church here in Norwich did practice annual pew renting. It is assumed this is when it was started at our church, for there is no other indication that it was implemented before 1890.

Just before the annual conference on May 15, 1890, the Methodist Discipline suggested that a financial plan be put into place for the upcoming year. Up to and just before the conference the church had a balance of $255 in debt for the year 1889-1890, but were happy to report that all its expenses had been met and what little amount left unpaid was covered by subscriptions considered perfectly good. So, when the church began its conference year of 1890-1891 it was out of debt.

Did you know… in the 1850’s Pew Renting was a major fundraising device.

To be Continued… Next week, I will continue with our Pew Renting saga…

August 12, 2013

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Always give more than you take from life. It is the secret of happiness… you cannot outgive God. You cannot bless without being blessed, you cannot love without being loved.” Fred Bauer

Our Journey Continues….

This week as we continue the discussion of Pew-Renting it is important to remember that it was not to single out anyone but a way of finding relief of the burden of keeping our church running as smoothly as possible.

It is recorded that on May 12, 1890, the Financial Board met and recommended the hearty endorsement and support by all the church and congregation of the financial plan as set forth and passed in the following resolutions:

Many issues were resolved during this time. One was the major issue of Pew Renting, and it was taken very seriously. It is so stated that the Annual Pew Renting would start on May 19, 1890. This endeavor was to raise the funds necessary to meet the expenses for the year 1890-1891. This was in addition to the regular offerings each week, and special donations throughout the year.

A committee of three was selected to schedule prices for the rentable pews. It was seen as a solemn obligation taken by every member of the church to contribute according to his or her ability for the support of the church. It was strongly advised that payments be made through monthly envelopes in advance. It was in a sense a type of contract with the church when one rented a pew. If the failure to keep up payments took place, then it was regarded sufficient cause to forfeit your pew, at the discretion of the committee.

There was one exception to the rule: the last four rows of pews in the rear of the audience room, or sanctuary and pews numbered 32, 56, 90, and 110, were reserved for strangers and visitors, that they could not be rented. So, it would appear if you lost your pew you still had a seat.

The three that were appointed to the committee were also given the job to call upon any members who had not yet rented a pew and solicit his or her subscription toward the support of the church.

At this meeting it was also resolved that Rev. H. Fox was chosen collector for the current year.

This financial committee consisted of C. A. King, L. C. Hayes, J. A. Stokes, and E. W. Griffith.

Did you know… The Committee was instructed that they could not lower but could increase the price of the pew renting once a price was set in place….

To be Continued… Next week, I will continue again with our Pew Renting saga…

August 19, 2013

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “To be a Christian Citizen in this age demands, first a willingness to care sincerely about other people; and second, a readiness to practice proper stewardship of the resources committed to our care.” Reynolds W. Greene, Jr.

Our Journey Continues….

Since pew renting was working well it seemingly continued at our church… there is at this time only evidence that it lasted through 1892, after that there is no record of it….

It is recorded that on April 11, 1892, the Financial Board met and recommended the hearty endorsement and support by all the church and congregation of the financial plan as set forth and passed in the following resolutions:

Many issues were resolved during this time. Again the major issue of Pew Renting was taken very seriously. It is so stated that the Annual Pew Renting would start on April 27, 1892. This endeavor was to raise the funds necessary to meet the expenses for the year 1892-1893.

This time a committee of four was selected to schedule prices for the rentable pews. They were: J.W. Carr, CC. Brooks, J.A Stokes, and E.W. Griffith.

It was resolved that the same pews as the previous year still be made available at no cost to strangers and visitors. Much of the resolutions that were in place stayed in place such as the weekly envelopes or monthly advance payment requirements.

One change that was important was that the pew rent was reduced by one dollar from the price of the year before.

Rev. H. Fox was chosen collector for the current year. The committee was also made responsible for the pastor’s monthly salary and all bills as they became due.

Did you know… The amount collected through pew renting in 1892 was $1,115.90. The amount paid to Pastor Olmstead was 1,120.00. The total received through pew renting and other contributions was $2226.30. The financial report showed an ending balance of $17.15. So pew renting was a huge and necessary part of the income of the church.

To be Continued… Next week, I will bring alive some very interesting early history of the church choir…

August 26, 2013

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process.” John F. Kennedy

Our Journey Continues….

The early history of the Broad Street Methodist Episcopal Church choir in Norwich, New York according to the writings of Mrs. Edith Weeden started in 1883 under the leadership of Minnie Walker who was the daughter of Rev. I. T. Walker. She was followed by many choir leaders which included Amelia Jewett, Ruby Moulton, Mary Brown, Sophia Tefft, May Scott Olmstead, and the first male leader was Howard York.

Although the list is extensive, one leader Mrs. Sophia Tefft in particular is mentioned as being responsible for putting on two to three concerts with the assistance of a Mr. Reisburg.

At one point, Mrs. Weeden recalls that the church had a symphony orchestra, and remembers the first Christmas Cantata that she took part in. It was called “The Star of Bethlehem” and May Scott Olmstead had the lead part. The Choir was assisted by the Will Johnson’s Orchestra. Mrs. Tefft is remembered as being the choir leader for many years.

Not only the organ played at services but there was almost a full-fledged orchestra that consisted of many instruments played by the choir members. They included clarinets, violins, horns, saxophones, flutes, drums, and cymbals. It is remembered that at one service the congregation thought at first the organist was playing lively music only to discover it was members of the choir that were doing so.

Obviously in the years before John P. Scott led the choir the female choir members wore hats, but when he was leader Mr. Scott had the ladies wear white blouses, and dark skirts and no hats… it was said that after that hats were never again worn by the members of the choir.

By the turn of the century, it was with sadness that the old members had passed away, but the memories they left behind where never forgotten.

Did you know… Some folks said the choir was the War department of the Church, but this never applied to ours because they didn’t know our choir, in which each member did their part in making our choir a fine institution and were always a help to the minister.

To be Continued… Next week, More to come on the early history of the church choir…

September 2, 2013

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Joy is a net of love by which you catch souls.” Mother Teresa

Our Journey Continues….

Fast backwards, when one thinks of the choir, the organ comes to mind, which is one of the main factors of the choir. When our first organ was installed in 1875 at the cost of $2,800 the air was furnished by a bellows with a lever attached. It reached outside of the back, which required a person to manipulate.

It is unclear who did this task for the first 21 years of the organ’s existence, but an eyewitness account is recorded that in the year 1896, when Edna Rowe was organist, that Elmer G. Weeks furnished the arm strong power. He was paid ten cents a Sunday, which is said to be the first money he ever earned.

The choir of that time was a fine one, and the congregation was proud of the young people who were in it, which helped to make it a real success, and it was a vision of the choir of the tomorrows.

In tribute to the choir the first ever banquet was held in their honor on March 26, 1925, while L.D. Palmer was pastor. The following year another banquet was held on February 12, 1926, hosted by the ladies of the church. These banquets were to have been an annual affair, but somehow they did not materialize. But the members of the choir sang as long as they were able.

The third banquet and seemingly according to recorded records the last was not held until September 30, 1942. Sixty plus attended this sit down dinner given by the Women’s Society of the Broad Street Methodist church. Dr. John H. Stewart was toastmaster and song leader. Mrs. Kenneth Littlewood presided at the piano, and Rev. W. Gray gave a recitation entitled “The Welsh Classic.”

At this banquet, flowers were presented to the choir leader, Mrs. Arthur Halbert, and a corsage to Mrs. Archie Weeden in recognition of their services for 50 years as members of the choir.

One can not only imagine how faithful these members were back then, but their loyalty had to be beyond measure.

Did you know… In 1896 Elmer Weeks as a young boy worked the bellows for the organ, but he later was recorded as being a member of the choir in a 1946 clipping… what a devoted person he was…

To be Continued… Next week, I will share a collection of poems that were written by members of our congregation young and old alike….

September 9, 2013

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “All the darkness of the world cannot put out the light of one small candle.” Anonymous

Our Journey Continues….

As promised poems that are most interesting and thought provoking… Many were written during the war and were shared with the congregation in the Sunday bulletins….. Please take the time to really enjoy them….


We know that our Flag is very true,

We know that the colors are red, white and blue.

We should look at the Flag when we give the Pledge;

We should look at the Flag as ‘tis raised to the sky

And be thankful that the bullets are not whizzing by.

(Written by Ronald Paul Palmer – age 9 in 1945)


To keep my health!

To do my work!

To live!

To see to it I grow and gain and give!

Never to look behind me for an hour!

To wait in weakness, and to walk in power:

But always fronting onward to the light,

Always and always facing towards the right.

Robbed, starved, defeated, fallen, wide astray—

On, with what strength I have

Back to the way!

(Written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman in January 1946)

Did you know… Ronald Paul Parmer was the son of Corporal and Mrs. John Paul P. Palmer… this poem appeared in the Sunday bulletin dated March 18, 1945 in which the services were dedicated to… Marching With Our Boys and Girls…

To be Continued… Next week, I will continue to share more of these collection of poems that were written by members of our congregation in years past….

September 16, 2013

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “To see a world in a grain of sand and a heaven in a wildflower, hold infinity in the palm of your Hand and eternity in an hour.” William Blake

Our Journey Continues….

The following poem was in dedication to the Y.M.C.A. financial campaign started on April 16, 1947 in our Sunday Worship bulletin.


A builder builded a temple;

He wrought it with care and skill,

Pillars and groins and arches,

All fashioned to work his will.

And men said, as they saw its beauty,

“It shall never know decay;

Great is thy skill, O builder.

Thy fame shall endure for aye.”

A mother builded a temple

With infinite loving care,

Planning each arch with patience,

Laying each stone with prayer,

None praised her unceasing effort,

None knew of her wondrous plan,

For the temple the mother builded

Was unseen by the eye of man.

Gone is the builder’s temple,

Crumbled into the dust;

Low lies each stately pillar,

Food for consuming rust,

But the temple and mother builded

Will last while the ages roll,

For the beautiful unseen temple

Was a child’s immortal soul.

To be Continued… Next week, more of these collection of inspiring poems….

September 23, 2013

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Little things seem nothing, but they give peace, like those meadow flowers which individually seem odorless but all together perfume the air.” George Bernanos….

Our Journey Continues….

More inspirational poems from our Sunday Worship bulletins.


Some folks hunger for a friend,

For friends make life worthwhile;

And others hearts are hungry

For just a pleasant smile.

Kind words and deeds have wondrous power

To save a soul from sin;

To drive the threatening clouds away

And let the sunshine in.

–March 24, 1946 – written by Raymond A. Harlan


The clock of life is wound but once,

And no man has the power

To tell just when the hand will stop,

At late or early hour.

Now is the only time you own;

Live, love, toil with a will,

Place no faith in tomorrow, for

The clock may then be still.

—November 14, 1948 – written by Winona Jewell


“A religion

That does nothing

That gives nothing

That costs nothing

That suffers nothing

Is worth nothing.”

–March 3, 1946 – unknown author

To be Continued… Next week, more of these collection of inspiring poems….

September 30, 2013

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” Mohandas K. Gandhi

Our Journey Continues….

The following poems are taken from Sunday Worships bulletins….


God hath not promised skies always blue,

Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through.

God hat not promised sun without rain,

Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

But God hath promised strength for the day,

Rest for the laborer, light on the way;

Grace for the trial, help from above,

Unfailing sympathy, undying love.

–March 16, 1947 – unknown author


This is my creed; to do some good,

To bear my ills without complaining,

To press on as a brave man should

For honors that are worth the gaining;

To seek no profits where I may,

By winning them, bring grief to others;

To do some service day by day

In helping on my toiling brothers.

–January 2, 1949 – unknown author

To be Continued… Next week, more of these collection of inspiring poems….

October 7, 2013

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Happiness is not the destination. It is a method of life.”

Our Journey Continues….

The following poem is for your enjoyment as well as some thoughtful words to ponder upon….


The world is wide — but not too wide;

Hand within hand and side by side

We forge a chain and wrap it ‘round

The lands where Fear and Want are found—

Draw them closer, hold them near;

Share our bread—our warmth—our cheer.

The need stands out on every side—

Not wider than our hearts are wide!

Written by—Luetta Bennett Dark


We are blind until we see

That in the human plan

Nothing is worth the making

If it does not make a man.

Why build these cities glorious

If man unbuilded goes?

In vain we build he the world unless

The builder also grows.

——Appeared in Sunday bulletin April 7, 1946


If we knew each other better,

You and I and all the rest,

Seeing down beneath the surface

To the sorrows all unguessed,

We would quit our cold complaining

And a hand of trust extend,

If we knew each other better,

We would count each one our friend.

——Appeared in Sunday bulletin January 28, 1945

To be Continued… Next week, I will start a series on many of the organizations within our church starting in the 1890’s.

October 14, 2013

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “The Kingdom of God is God’s total answer to man’s total need.” …. E. Stanley Jones

Our Journey Continues….

This week I’m starting a series on the history of the organization called, “International Order of The King’s Daughters and Sons.”

Early accounts indicate that this Order was first organized in the home of Margaret Bottome, in New York City on January 13, 1886. There were ten women in this original group and chose the name, “The King’s Daughters.” However, in 1887, the Order allowed men and boys to join. In 1891, the Order incorporated as “International Order of The King’s Daughters and Sons.”

The purpose of the Order was “The development of spiritual life and the stimulation of Christian activities.” Meaning making Christ the central figure in our lives, and to constantly grow in Christian living and thinking, by training ourselves and others for Christian service and helping every good cause which needs our assistance.

The first leaders of this group, with four in particular took front stage in service and development of the order as follows:

Mrs. Margaret Bottome, she was the first president, an office she held until her passing in 1906. She was noted for her Bible talks, and through her page in “The Ladies Home Journal,” in which she made the Order known to a host of readers.

Mrs. Theodore Irving, was the head of a New York School for girls, and gave the Order its name, The King’s Daughters.”

Mrs. Isabella Charles Davis, was for many years the corresponding secretary, reaching out to organization of Circles and then in the state and provincial Branches. She was a gifted speaker, and carried her message of the Order over the United States and into Canada.

Mrs. Mary Lowe Dickenson, educator, journalist, novelist, poet and author of the loved hymns of the Order, gave fully of her mind and heart to the furthering of this work. She was general secretary of the Order until her passing in 1914.

Some of the interesting by-laws of the constitution of this are as follows:

A Badge was worn by all members which was a silver Maltese Cross, worn with or without a purple ribbon, which had the initials “I.H.N” on one side and the word “Seal” and the date 1886 on the other side. Fees were set at sixty cents per year payable to the treasurer by March 31st each year. Motto– To look up and not down, To look forward and not back, To look out and not in, And to lend a hand.

Did You Know… Where the name of this order come from is obvious from this Scripture which served as their Purpose… “The Kings Daughter is all glorious within; her clothing is of wrought gold.” Psalm 45:13

To be Continued… Next week, this series continues…

October 21, 2013

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Center yourself on yourself and you won’t like yourself. Lose yourself in the need of others, and you’ll find yourself – find yourself a happy person.” …. E. Stanley Jones

Our Journey Continues….

In last week’s article I discussed “The International Order of the King’s Daughters and Sons.” Now I will talk about how this Order tied in with our church. Locally at our church, on November 22, 1901, an off shoot from this Order was organized called “The Whatsoever Circle.” Its lines of work included Sunday School Classes, The Junior League, and many local charities. Membership was very small consisting of about 8 or 9 members.

The first President of this Circle was Rev Wilson Trieble’s wife Ruth. From 1902-1906 the records of the meetings are scattered, but early July, August, and November meetings are recorded, but unfortunately the year of these meetings was not given. It is noted at one meeting it was voted to make Christmas gifts for the Cradle Roll, (a Club within the church that recorded all new borns) as well as a food sale in which $4.17 was made in profit, which at that place in time was considered to be a lot of money.

In 1907, the Circle reorganized, and membership rose to 14 as new members were realized. In addition to regular business, there was a social time of games, piano solos, recitations and readings and refreshments at the end of each meeting. But it was not all play, but hard work that made this Circle successful.

Many members were referred to as Silent workers because they went about doing many acts of kindness that was not known to many. A great part of the work that the Circle for many years was to look after the sick and to supply a nurse and necessities in families where sickness for the time incapacitated the bread winner or the home maker, and where a little help in such a crisis kept the home together and made easier in a time of trouble and anxiety. Unfortunately, the Norwich circle was not able to maintain a regular visiting nurse and there was not yet an established hospital in Norwich.

In 1908, the first district Secretary, Miss Frances Latham, realized the great need for a hospital in Norwich, and as a result a big celebration was organized by Mrs. George Brown & Mrs. Loomis to raise the first monies toward the building of a hospital. It was held on July 4th, called Tag Day, and resulted in raising $164.52, which was deposited in the bank for the special purpose of the beginnings of a hospital building fund.

In 1912, the Norwich Memorial Hospital became a reality, and there was much rejoicing. The various Circles in the district only thought it was fitting to have a memorial in Miss Latham’s honor, so money was raised for this purpose. To continue her good work for those needing help in an emergency, it was decided to provide a free bed in the hospital, to be known as the Frances Latham Memorial Bed. This bed was granted to worthy persons in Norwich and surrounding towns upon the decision of the attending physician and hospital committee of the King’s Daughters.

When the hospital opened the Circle made surgical garments and supplies, and curtains for the women’s ward when they needed replacement. Flowers and reading material were regularly sent to the sick.

Did You Know… From 1912 through 1919, the Latham Memorial bed had been used 150 weeks.

To be Continued… Next week, this series continues…

October 28, 2013

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “It is when the Person, Christ, touches the immediate personal problems of your life and mine that His power is made most evident.” …. Samuel M. Shoemaker

Our Journey Continues….

The What-so-ever Circle was very successful and grew in membership over the following years. By 1948 the total active members rose to 32, and many visitors attended many of the meetings. It is recorded that in 1948 there were 27 visitors that year alone.

As mentioned before the Circle main objective was to help those in need in the community and surrounding areas. They were responsible for implementing many programs, and many committees were formed and each member was serious about their work. According to written records in 1923, some of these ventures were called Barrel Packing, Birthday Bank, Lookout, Post Card Sale, and Wheelchair. By 1949, they had addedChristmas Boxes to their list of charities.

Included in our archives is a scrap book that includes many newspaper articles dated from 1919 through 1961, after that there are no more records… these articles include upcoming meeting announcements, Officer elections, Conventions, Annual Picnics, Christmas Parties, Guest Speakers, and the passing of many of their beloved members.

In June, 1951, the Circle held what looks like their first rummage sale, but not at the church… it was held at the Eagle Hotel up the street from the church. This was a repeated event in Dec of that same year…

Another annual event that was held by the Circle was called Dues Tea, which was held at the Broad Street Methodist Church parlors. (I assume this would be what we refer to today as the Fellowship Hall.) This event was held to have all the members pay their dues for the upcoming year. It was really a business meeting where the treasurer and secretary read their yearly report. This was followed by a covered dish supper.

On October 24, 1930, the Twentieth Annual Convention of the Chenango District, New York State Branch of the International Order of The King’s Daughters and Sons was held in Norwich at the First Congregational Church. On October 24, 1951, the 40th Annual Conventions was held at Broad Street United Methodist Church as well as the 41st in October 1952.

At the June meeting in 1952, it was recorded that the group had made 120 sick calls in that one month…. Amazing…. At a special work meeting on April 3, 1954, at The Red Door, (only to assume this is like the Red Cross) 4 members were called upon to make 228 dressings for Cancer in one day. Mission accomplished…

This group also was very creative at their meetings… At the April 21, 1958, meeting each member brought a dollar and each had to explain in Rhyme how they earned it. What a fun thing to do….

Did You Know… On November 23, 1957, this Circle was presented with a 50-year Plaque for their 50 years of continuous service by the district president, Mrs. C. A. Van Housen.

To be Continued… Next week, as this series continues we will now take a closer look at the Wesleyan Brotherhood.…

November 4, 2013

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “It is the very genius of Christianity to be the avowed enemy of everything that distorts life or prevents its intended fruition. The true gospel is the friend of man because it sees in every man a fact of infinite value.” Edwin Lewis…

Our Journey Continues….

Before The Wesleyan Brotherhood was organized in 1902, it is important to mention that it was originally organized at the Broad Street Methodist Episcopal Church of Norwich, on May 20, 1884, as the Morse Bible Class. Its founder was Mrs. George Morse, who became the teacher of a class of young boys. As the years passed, it proved that she had a most remarkable personality for such service, because the boys developed into young manhood and the class grew in numbers.

It is recorded that the far-reaching influence of the Christ-like character of the noble woman who was its founder can never be established, for many of her “Boys” had become prominent in Christian work even in foreign lands. However,her genuine affection and individual interest in the young men made the class a great success.

In 1902, The Morse Bible Class became organized as the Wesleyan Brotherhood, under the direction of Rev. Wilson Trieble. More than 600 men had been members of this great Christian organization during its first half century of service. From this class merged 12 ministers, 8 doctors, 7 lawyers, a famous composer, John Prindle Scott who published over 75 songs in his short lifetime.

In 1934, the Brotherhood celebrated their 50th Anniversary. Due to illness, Mrs. Morse was unable to attend, but the local Telephone Company ran a special wire from the church to her home, so she could hear the service which was conducted by her class. Mrs. Morse passed away in October 1938.

During the pastorate of Rev. John W. Nicholson, Mr. & Mrs. Morse designated in their will a bequest to the Broad Street Church for a new organ. Several months after Mrs. Morse’s passing, the pastor and trustees undertook the responsibility of purchasing for the church a truly magnificent instrument. On November 12, 1939, the Morse Memorial Organ was dedicated in a memorable ceremony.

Did you know??? Besides faithfully teaching her class Mrs. Morse was also a talented Milliner, and many hats were purchased from members of the congregation and the community.

To be Continued… next week a closer look at the Brotherhood….

November 11, 2013

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “The man of faith knows God; he cannot explain Him. He accepts life from the hand of God and returns life into his hand. All this is wonderful and indescribable.”…M.K.W. Heicher

Our Journey Continues….

In 1902, the Wesleyan Brotherhood held their 27th Annual Reunion of the organization, known locally as The Wesleyan Brotherhood, Morse Chapter No. 1, which was the first knownorganization of that name, though many Wesleyan Brotherhoods had since been founded, many of them through the efforts of members of this organization. A total of 100 had gone out from Norwich to take responsible positions in all parts of the country. It is recorded that only one member, William F. Potter, was the only member of the original membership that remained in Norwich.

Every New Year’s Eve, an annual Banquet was held in honor of the members of the Wesleyan Brotherhood. In 1911, the 27th Banquet was held at the home of its founder, Mrs. H. G. Morse. It was a most enjoyable affair, with first a business session, followed by a five course dinner for the 46 who attended. Toastmaster was Rev. M.D. Fuller. Before leaving this event, each member of the Brotherhood was presented with a handsome souvenir by their teacher and hostess, Mrs. Morse.

In 1912, the Brotherhood again met for their yearly Anniversary and social, at the home of Mrs. Morse at 50 Cortland Street. There were 60 members in attendance, at their meeting new members were inducted into the organization, and officers were elected for the coming year. After the meeting a luncheon was served followed by the entertainment of the Y.M.C.A orchestra lead by Frankino Sebastiano. There was also fine selections rendered by a mandolin and guitar trio.

In 1918, the News Year’s Eve annual meeting was its 35th year, again held at the home of Mrs. Morse. It was a happy, proud occasion, but this meeting was a little different. It has been noted that only 26 boys were in attendance because 31 members of the Wesleyan Brotherhood were in the armed service of their country.

Did you know??? On July, 3, 1904 the Wesleyan Brotherhood sponsored a Patriotic service at our church then called Broad Street Methodist Episcopal Church in honor of the then veterans.…

To be Continued… next week a special speech given at the 1918 annual meeting by Mrs. Morse and a special gift presented to her by her “boys”.….

November 18, 2013

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “How Great is the ocean, how tiny the shell with which we dip.” Walter Bauer

Our Journey Continues….

At the 35th annual meeting in 1918, when the business session opened Mrs. Morse addressed the gathering as follows in her own words…

“My dear boys: As we are gathered together on this happy and festive occasion, I bid you all a hearty welcome and wish you, one and all, a bright, happy new year. I now beg your indulgence for a few moments to a backward and forward glance at our large and thriving circle of young men, thirty-one of whom have answered the call of their country to fight, not alone for the right and democracy and to defend the glorious “Stars and Stripes,” but also for helpless women and children oppressed, starved and demoralized by the iron heel of Kaiserism.

It is my constant hope and prayer, in which I know you will join me, that they may return safe and sound from “over there.” And again fit into their own niche in our brotherhood; and that each may be a better, stronger and nobler man for the many sacrifices made, and that each may know that he has fought the good fight for God and humanity.”

Following this speech and a luncheon, and lively entertainment which at one point was called to order by the president, A. B. Borland, who presented Mrs. Morse with a handsome gold ring with a pink sapphire (Mrs. Morse’s birthstone) in a gypsy setting appropriately engraved with the following remarks.

“Mrs. Morse: It is my pleasure at this time to express to you for the Wesleyans, their grateful appreciation of all your numberless benefactions of the thirty-five years that are gone and also their hopeful anticipation of your active association with the future of our organization and as a little token of this esteem in which we do always hold you, I present you with this sapphire ring. The brotherhood colors pink and green; the sapphire is pink, and we dare anticipate that the wearing of this ring will keep us green in your memory. The brotherhood seal is enclosed by a circular band symbolizing unity and endurance; may the circle of this little band of gold symbolize to you the unity of the Wesleyan and the unity of their affection toward you.”

Did you know??? The two stained glass windows in the northeast room off the Sanctuary were a gift given in honor of Mrs. Morse; the North window from the Wesleyan Brotherhood and the Northwest from her husband.

To be Continued… next week …. Mrs. Morse responds to her gift and more….

November 25, 2013

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “How did God first reveal his presence to you, so that you knew unmistakably that it was He? Each person’s experience is quite different from every other person . . . . For most of us in the common experiences of our daily living, God meets us where we are.” Harold Wiley Freer

Our Journey Continues….

When Mrs. Morse was presented her gift by Mr. Borland from her “Boys” of the Brotherhood at the 35th annual meeting in 1918, she was filled with great emotion. She responded as follows:

“Mr. Borland: I most heartily thank you for the kind words spoke. Words are wholly inadequate to express my grateful appreciation of this beautiful gift. As I look at this golden circlet it well ever be a reminder of “my boys,” insomuch as it has been tried in fire and stood well the test, as have they. The color, pink,–one of the brotherhood colors—is emblematic of steadfast friendship and eternal love. The sapphire—my birthstone—will mark the mile-posts alone life’s pathway and admonish me of the shortness of time in which to prepare for eternity. Young men, I thank you.”

Hearty applause followed along with many more speeches, after which many patriotic songs were sung, until another splendid climax was reached when George H. Morse with very appropriate and touching remarks, unfurled and present a beautiful, large service flag with thirty-one stars, the gift of Mrs. Morse to “Our Boys.” After saluting the flag, all joined lustily in singing “The Star Spangled Banner.” Then, the thirty-one names of the “Roll of Honor” were read , who were actively serving their country.

In 1922, the brotherhood celebrated their 39th Anniversary, which was doubly significant to the Wesleyan Brotherhood, marking not only the observance of Mother’s Day, but also the birth of their brotherhood which was organized 39 years before.

In honor of this event, Rev. L.D. Palmer presented Mrs. Morse with a basket of 39 carnations in pink and green… the basket carried a message that read: “Mrs. George H. Morse, 39 carnations from the Wesleyan Brotherhood, 39th Anniversary, 1884, Our Mother, 1923.”

When Rev. Palmer presented the flowers to Mrs. Morse, he said that the blossoms would fade, but that the work that has been accomplished would live forever.

Again, Mrs. Morse was overwhelmed and later responded by saying, “It is because of your loyalty to your church, brotherhood, leader and yourselves that it is possible for us to observe this 39th anniversary.”

In 1929, at one of the annual Banquets of the Wesleyan Brotherhood, they were honored with music played by a popular musicians group called, The Norwich Mandolin Club.

Did you know??? Mark Twain spoke here at our Church in December 1868 and was a guest at the home of William Mason, an attorney, who resided at the southwest corner of South Broad Street and Eaton Avenue, now the site of the Mody Agency.

To be Continued… next year Jan 2014 …. We will take a look at a unique club that lasted over 20 years…