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Church History
Written by Lona Flynn   
Sunday, 29 October 2006
For 165 years, the witness of the Cicero United Methodist Church has been interwoven with the life of the Town and Village of Cicero. As you read and learn of it's history and share in it's memories, remember, that our past shows us God's love; the present his goodness; and our future contains his promise. - Lona Flynn

United Methodist Archives and History Web Site

"Methodism In Cicero" 1834 - 1992

For 165 years, the witness of the Cicero United Methodist Church has been interwoven with the life of the Town and Village of Cicero. As you read and learn of it's history and share in it's memories, remember, that our past shows us God's love; the present his goodness; and our future contains his promise.
- Lona Flynn


(This history is a close adaptation of a booklet prepared by Lona in 1992. Fortunately, Marjorie Johnson saved the text on disc making this task an easy one. We plan to bring this history up to date in the near future.)

Sincere thanks to each and every one who has helped in any way with this history, especially: Marjorie Johnson, who has spent many hours on the computer putting this together for me; Kathy Prentice, who did most of the editing; Jean Grevelding for the artwork on the cover; Sharon Hachey for her time and help; and Rev. Stephen Deckard, who has answered many questions.

Cicero United Methodist Church - The Beginning

The first circuit riders came to Central New York about 1790. The first record found of a circuit preacher in connection with the Cicero Methodist Church was of Allen Tilton, who came to this area in 1834. He also served the Clay-Baldwinsville circuit. Church services in Cicero were held in the schoolhouse. This two-story building was built in 1827 by the Masonic Lodge and School District No. 3. It was located on the northeast side of Rte. 31 about 14-1/2 rods from the present Rte. 11.

Moses Lyon was circuit preacher in 1838, covering the Cicero-Clay territory. According to the memoirs in the Central New York Conference, he was a "fervent, solid Evangelical preacher, mighty in prayer and a singer with peculiar and touching pathos of voice and style." Cicero and Clay were Moses' first circuits after he was "admitted into full connection." He served our church for a year and returned for two more years in 1841 and 1842. His last church was in 1878 at Bridgeport, NY, where he died on March 24, 1889. He is buried in the Bridgeport Cemetery and his monument features an open Bible.

In 1845, the Cicero Society purchased 91/100th of an acre of land, for $200, from Cornelius VanAlstine and Else, his wife. This lot had a 277 foot frontage on Route 11 with a depth of 212 feet, and on it a residence was built for the circuit preacher.

Six years later, in 1851, a church costing $1,300 was built on the same lot. Timbers for the church were cut from the woodlot of Noah Andrews - a trustee at the time. The church was heated by chunk wood stoves located on each side of the front entrance. There was a balcony across the front of the building.

Anson Fuller was assigned to the Cicero Church in 1853, serving both Cicero and Cicero Center. These two churches remained in the same charge until 1875 when the latter petitioned to be joined with Bridgeport.

1859 was the year that members voted to organize the church under the name of First Methodist Church of Cicero with the following three trustees elected: Noah Andrews, Daniel VanAlstine and Jonathan Tripp. Browning Nichols was pastor at this time. The church bell, cast by Meneeley of West Troy, NY, is also dated 1859. It rang each Sunday morning reminding members and townsfolk alike that it was a day of worship. Its tolling had a sad note when it rang for the death of a member and often meant disaster when it rang to summon firemen to a fire. This bell is located in our present church building.

The church, in 1872, was papered with imitations of frescos (religious paintings similar to the Sistine Chapel paintings in Rome). James R. Gillette was Sunday School Superintendent that year and one of his sayings, "If you were supposed to smoke, there would be a chimney on the back of your head." The following year, a church book records - "at a meeting of the male members of the M.E. Church" - which shows that women did not participate in church decisions.

A testimonial, with friends of Rev. Edwin Busch attending, was held at Herrick's Hotel in 1875. Suppers, as well as donation parties for the pastor, were often held in either Herrick's or the Parker House (later King's). They were the main support of the church. Food and entertainment was offered to the people attending and during the evening the hat was passed for subscriptions and donations. Those attending were not always members of the church. Rev. Busch's salary was $510 for the year and he was allotted $40 for parsonage rent. The furniture in the parsonage was valued at $25. There were 85 church members enrolled. Services at this time were held twice on Sunday in addition to a Wednesday prayer meeting. A serious illness was about the only valid excuse for missing a church service and all food preparation for Sunday was done on Saturday. Camp meetings were often held where "members were deeply convinced of sin and earnestly groaning for redemption."

Rev. Ebenezer Arnold reported, in 1877, "a full half year's work and received less than $200." At this time church membership was 76. Mr. J. W. Jewel was Sunday School Superintendent and attendance averaged 85. Trustees were J. Bradford, Daniel VanAlstine, and Noah Andrews.

The parsonage that had been built in 1845 was in such poor condition that during the winter of 1892, Rev. and Mrs. Oliver Fisher stayed with Mr. and Mrs. James Bonsted, members of the church.

The following was recorded in the 1892 church conference record: "At Cicero, ground has been broken for a new parsonage and, the pastor there (Rev. Fisher) is seeking, by personal influence and the labor of his own hands, to secure the desired result." The old parsonage was moved to a lot on Route 31 and used as a barn. A two story Victorian style parsonage was completed on the same site at a cost of $1,800 in 1893. Some new furnishings were also added.

For many years the young people of the church were involved with the Epworth League. This Methodist organization was founded in 1889, in Cleveland, OH. The name "Epworth" was chosen to perpetuate the name of the town where John Wesley was born. The insignia was a maltese cross with the motto "Look up, lift up." (These are incorporated in the stained glass windows in our chapel.) Cicero had, in 1893, an active Epworth League. Appointed committees for that year were - Christian Work, Mercy and Help, Literary Work, and Entertainment. Members included Rev. Fisher and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. James Bonsted, Mr. and Mrs. M. J. Bonsted, as well as members of the following families: Shepard, Schield, Tripp, Wells, Young, Vollmer, Sotherden, Andrews, Merriam, Gillette, and Phalen.

The Taft Settlement Methodist Church at North Syracuse was torn down in 1898 and the Cicero Methodist Church purchased the lumber, which was used to build a New England style church - complete with steeple and stained glass windows. The original Cicero church was moved back on the lot, turned half way around with the front facing north. It was attached to the new church and used for Sunday School rooms.

The following statistics were found in the Central New York Conference records of 1899: Rev. Edward Jarvis received a salary of $550 and was allotted $120 for rent; the new church was valued at $5,000 and the parsonage $2,000, and the fuel cost was $70. There were 83 full members of the church and 27 members in the Epworth League with Ermina Shepard as President. The Sunday School had 15 officers and teachers; 97 scholars enrolled with an average attendance of 42.

In his notes, the District Superintendent Rev. John C. Nichols, (he was pastor at Cicero in 1875 and 1876) wrote: "Cicero rejoices in a new commodious and pleasant house of worship. Costing about $3,500, this, together with an old parsonage built a few years ago, is all pledged."

On September 15, 1898, a banquet was held at the church. Pictured on the program are the Spanish and American flags. Participating were Rev. J. E. Sawyer, Rev. Fisher, and Rev. Jarvis. "Issues of Our War with Spain" was the topic discussed by District Superintendent Rev. John C. Nichols. This meeting shows that church members and clergy alike were concerned with issues about the Spanish-American War.

The men in churches everywhere, began to realize what an asset the women could be in helping them financially. Adopting a Constitution in April, 1899, the Cicero Ladies Aid began to contribute much in the way of financial help to the church and parsonage, as well as enjoying fellowship with their "social teas." Records show that this group helped in all areas of church work, including Christmas programs and trimming the Easter Cross, as well as home talent plays.

In 1901, on November 10th and 17th, the church was closed because of smallpox.

An Election Day dinner was held in November, 1904. Sponsored by the Ladies Aid, they charged 15 cents and served meat, potatoes, pork and beans, cheese, jelly, coffee, pie, and doughnuts realizing a profit of $10.

No church services were held on April 6, 1908, because they were out of coal.

Evidently, the members of the church felt the need of a revival because Miss Gertrude Rumsey held a two-week revival meeting March 6-18, 1910. She was paid $60 and the singer, Miss Harris, was paid $20.

Louis Kelsey came to Cicero as a student pastor in 1914. Both he and his wife were popular with the young people of the church. Through his efforts, a Community Hall was built over the horse sheds at the rear of the church. A Boy Scout Troop was formed with Rev. Kelsey as their leader. The scouts, with the Campfire Girls, earned money enough to put a floor in the Community Hall so it could be used as a gymnasium. Many church and community meetings were held there. It was used as a polling place in 19l7. That year, on Election Day, November 9th, over 300 people celebrated the town's no-liquor license victory. Rev. Kelsey had worked nearly three years for this cause and at the celebration in Community Hall, he was presented with a purse of $70.

There were eleven stars on the church service flag in 1918. In July, Rev. Kelsey enlisted in the army (World War I). He was sent overseas and was wounded soon after arriving in France. Also suffering shell shock, he was returned to Base Hospital in New York City where he died on January 14, 1919. The hymn board, used in the old church and now in Fellowship Hall, was dedicated in his memory. It is inscribed - In Memory of Chaplain L. E. Kelsey, 1888-1919. The following was taken from the 1919 Central New York Conference record:

"Louis M. Kelsey, a chaplain in the United States Army was transferred from the Church Military to the Church Triumphant which is before the throne, on January 14, 1919. A victim of shell shock, he returned from Europe and as surely gave his life for his country as he would have done if he had fallen at `midnight in some flaming town` of France. What a faithful, fearless warrior he was in the cause of Temperance, and for that matter, in every good cause, when he left earth he did not know that his country had pronounced the sentence of perpetual banishment on the liquor traffic. But the good news was flashed to heaven and was waiting for him there."

An outbreak of influenza occurred in September, 1918, and the church was closed for three weeks.

Disaster struck on June 20, 1919, when the Community Hall caught fire. The children were in the church practicing for the Children's Day program when the fire started. They all were evacuated and the movable furniture in the church was removed. Valued at about $3,500 the Community Hall was a total loss. Firemen from Cicero, Clay, and North Syracuse were commended for their work in saving the church and parsonage as there was a high wind blowing and the church roof caught fire several times. The horse sheds, which were used to shelter horses from the weather, were rebuilt in the fall of 1919. That winter, members of the Universalist and Dutch Reformed Churches joined the Cicero Methodist Church for Sunday services, in order to conserve coal.

In 1921 there were 121 enrolled in Sunday School. The Dutch Reformed Church closed in 1924, and many of their members joined the Cicero Methodist Church while Rev. Charles Ouderkirk was pastor.

The front porch of the parsonage was enclosed in 1929, while Rev. Elmer Yerdon and his family were living there. A new front was put on the parsonage garage and the driveway extended around the church. Invitations were issued for an "Old Home and Field Day" at Cicero, NY, on Saturday, September 14, 1929. A full program of events for the day included: 11 o'clock - Baby Show; Chicken dinner at noon - 50 cents; Parade, etc., and supper in the evening." A news clipping covering the event pictures Rev. Yerdon with committee members Forest Shepard, Mrs. Alvin Williams, and Lewis Ames. Also pictured were two winners of the baby show who were nieces of Doris and Harvey Ames - Katherine Vollmer and Susie Ames. Over 200 attended the event.

Mrs. Harry Wright, Marion Congdon's mother, was treasurer of the Progressive Class for over 30 years. This group, mostly couples, was very active in the life of the church. They held monthly social meetings in each others homes and used varied means of earning money to help defray church expenses. This group sponsored the annual turkey supper. The November, 1931, supper netted almost $93. They paid $50 out of this towards Rev. Yerdon's salary and bought a stove for the church - $40. The following year they paid $15 to have water put in the church.

The depression is reflected in the church minutes. The official board recorded that in January, 1933, they owed the pastor, Rev. Dewitt Hooker, $160 for services in 1932 (The Progressive Class again donated $50 toward this expense). Rev. Hooker's salary in 1934 was $1,000; average Sunday School attendance was 70; and there were 28 members in the Epworth League.

There were 134 members on the church roll in 1936.

The parsonage was shingled in 1938 with different church organizations donating money for the project.

The Ladies Aid published a cookbook in 1939. That year, at their December meeting, they decided to serve Rev. Edward Howe, a bachelor, his meals - charging him 30 cents a meal. Church minutes also recorded that year that Paul Vollmer offered wood - "the men to cut same." The Epworth League at this time became the Methodist Youth Fellowship.While Rev. Howe was minister, the Women's Society of Christian Service (W.S.C.S.) was formed in September, 1940, with 23 charter members. This organization consolidated the former Ladies Aid, Missionary Society, and the Women's Christian Temperance Union (W.C.T.U.).

Minutes recorded on June 4, 1941, stated, "church members were advised by Dr. Coman, District Superintendent, to influence the school board of Cicero school to start religious education in the fall."

Under the pastorate of Campbell Carmichael, the 1942 church budget provided $250 for a Sunday School bus. (This was discontinued the following year.) Fifty members were taken into the church that year. The Young Peoples' Class of the church published a monthly booklet called the "Victory Banner." Started in August, 1942, the Editor was Donald Hines; Typist, Frances House; Staff, Lewis House, Beverly Wintersdorf, Marion Wright, Norma Torsleff, and Mildred White. The November 1942 issue listed the names of 40 Cicero boys in the service for WWII and was dedicated to the "Gallant Boys in the Armed Forces Everywhere." Articles were written about the successful Cicero scrap drive - 164 tons of metal collected. Also, war stamps and bonds, air raids, gas and tire rationing were reported. The church decided to provide Bibles for the boys of the church who were in the service. In 1943, George VanTassell was appointed to take charge of rationing for the church.

The proposed budget for 1946-1947 included Rev. Cuthbert Rowe's salary, $1,900; heat, $100; telephone, $26; and water, $12 for the year. A new organ was purchased in 1946 with money from individual donors as well as church group contributions.

Rev. Earl VanScoy was minister when research on our church history was done by Mildred Slinde and Norman Gillette. On October 21, 1951, the 100th anniversary of the church was celebrated. Ten historical scenes were presented as episodes from church history. Some of the titles were as follows: "Our Deed from Cornelius VanAlstine," "Arson Fuller, An Early Preacher," "Young Peoples Social about 1890," "A Bird in a Gilded Cage," "In The Good Old Summertime," "The Cold Parsonage of 1890," and concluded with "The Church of the Future." A short written history, with a list of former pastors and the year of their appointment was given to those attending. Former pastors as guests were Rev. Cuthbert Rowe and Rev. Charles Benton.

Between 1951 and 1954, church membership increased. Under the pastorate of J. Wayne Hunter, plans were made for a new church and Sunday School rooms. A building committee, with Harold Schwarz as chairman, was selected and it was decided to start plans for a new church when pledges of $50,000 were received. This goal was not obtained, but an architect was hired to prepare plans for Sunday School rooms and a dining room below the sanctuary with a guarantee of a dry cellar. The price for this project was about $100,000 and so, the plan was cancelled. Two new architects, Sweeney and Burden, were hired and plans for our present Fellowship Hall were accepted. The ground-breaking service was on October 16, 1954, at 4:30 p.m. Participating were District Superintendent Dr. Rev. Warren Odom, Rev. George Benton, and Rev. J. Wayne Hunter. The congregation was represented by Fred Green, President of the Board of Trustees; Mrs. Hazel Parsons, President of the Women's Society of Christian Service; Fred Blackmer, Sunday School Superintendent; and Edna Mae Parker, President of Methodist Youth Fellowship. This building, completed at a cost of $55,000, was dedicated on May 8, 1955. It provided a large recreation and meeting room. Equipped with collapsible partitions, it was used for Sunday School rooms. The kitchen was also in this new building. Church membership that year was 333.

Rev. J. Wayne and Mrs. Marie Hunter celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary on April 16, 1961.

The North Syracuse School District offered the six room schoolhouse next to the church at public auction on April 28, 1961. The building built in 1923 had 7,700 square feet of floor space and included in the sale was 1-1/2 acres of land. The successful bid was $13,000 and the Cicero Methodist Church became owners of the property. This gave the church much needed Sunday School rooms and for $60 they acquired teachers' and pupils' desks as well as a large quantity of chairs. This property was appraised at $25,500. The school was dedicated on September 17, 1961, and called the Fred E. Green Building, named for an active member of the church who had been involved for over 40 years.

Within the 12 year period between 1950 and 1962, the population increased in the Town of Cicero from 6,000 to over 17,000. With membership in the church steadily growing, it was decided to build a new sanctuary. Harold Schwarz was at this time President of the Board of Trustees and he became the Chairman of the Building Committee. Other members were Rev. J. Wayne Hunter, Pastor; Prentiss Williams, Al King, John Hoadley, Robert Jaquay, Fred Green, Carl Pennock, John Ladd, Maurice Berg, Harold Brakeman, Charles Bachman, Roger Turk, Edith Smith Long, Marion Congdon, Phyllis Blackmer, Gladys Lorenz, and Vivian Osborne. Rev. James Bennett, Director of Stewardship of the New York Conference led the church fund drive. Fundraising Chairman was John Ladd with Carl Pennock, Co-Chairman. After a successful fundraising campaign, demolition of the 64 year old church began in March, 1963. The new church was to be built on the same site. The cornerstone dedication was at 3 p.m. on June 2, 1963, with Rev. Harold Swales, District Superintendent; and Rev. J. Wayne Hunter conducting the ceremony. The old cornerstone, dated 1859-1898, and the one for the new church were laid. In the new one, we placed daily papers, coins, pictures and a history of the church as complete as I could write it. Architects designing the new building were Sweeney and Burden. General contractors were Gallagher and Vault. Of modified colonial design, with a brick exterior, it could seat 400 people plus 50 choir members. This church, unlike the former New England style sanctuary, was built with the entrance at the back. The altar was placed toward the road with a beautiful rose stained glass window above - depicting Christ at Gethsemane. Roy Martz, a member of the church, worked on the window, which is lighted at night. All the stained glass windows were made by Keck of Syracuse.

The building also housed the pastor's study, church office, lounge and nursery. Approximate cost was $168,000. The pews from the old church were sold to the Cicero Center Methodist Church and the beautiful old stained glass windows were given to members desiring them (more about these later).

The first service in the new church was on October 27, 1963. The following month, new hymnals were used. Many of these were given by members of the church and 115 were donated by the W.S.C.S. The consecration of the church was on January 5, 1964, with Bishop Ralph Ward giving the sermon. Assisting were Rev. J. Wayne Hunter and Rev. Melcher. The first communion service was the following week with 306 attending.

The church budget for current expenses and benevolences in 1964 was just under $20,000. By June, 1965, church membership had increased to 553.

Boy Scout Troop 117, sponsored by our church, was organized January 31, 1964. The Scoutmaster was Harold Jaquay; with John Ladd, Chairman; and Carl Pennock as Institutional Representative. There were 13 members - 19 at the end of the year. The Troop is still active today. Also sponsored by our church, Boy Scout Cub Pack 117 was organized on January 31, 1966, with first Cub Master Eugene Bowman and Chairman Donald Case. On June 11, 1967, John Pennock and Dan Woolever received their scouting God and Country Award. Working with Rev. Gordon Knapp, they were the first recipients in the history of the church.

In 1967, through the efforts of Rev. Gordon Knapp and Father Paul LeStrange, the first Ecumenical Thanksgiving service was held in November.

Forming one church group, the Evangelical United Brethren Church merged with the Methodist Church in 1968 to form the United Methodist Church. The cross and flame, our new church emblem and the official United Methodist emblem was adopted at this time. It represents the union of the Evangelical United Brethren Church and the Methodist Church. The total flame suggests the presence of God's spirit in the United Church. At the very center stands the cross. Both the cross and flame are ancient symbols of the church, dating back to the days of Christ and Pentecost. Each evokes images of sacrifice, witness, and service, and reminds us of both the opportunities and obligations of discipleship.

An ecumenical dinner was held in May 1968. Two hundred fifteen women met at the Sacred Heart Church Hall. It was sponsored by the W.S.C.S. and the Altar Rosary Society of Sacred Heart Church. Honored guests were Rev. Paul LeStrange and Rev. and Mrs. Gordon Knapp. Also, at the head table were Mrs. Marion Congdon, President of the W.S.C.S.; Mrs. Rhea VanTassell, Mrs. Pearl Horton and Mrs. Joan Kesel, Chairwomen of the Circles of the United Methodist Church. Altar Rosary officers were Mrs. Margaret Schneider, Mrs. Gertrude Ekland, Mrs. Alice Guilfoyle, Mrs. Beverly LaVeck and Mrs. Loretta Onufer. A group discussion was led by Father LeStrange and Rev. Knapp. Also, in 1968, the name of the Women's Society of Christian Service (W.S.C.S.) was changed to United Methodist Women.

Two senior Girl Scouts, Cheryl Pennock and Cheryl Ruebsamen, were presented the God and Community Award in May 1968, by Rev. Gordon Knapp. First in the history of the church to receive this award, it took the girls over a year of work to earn it. The scouts were members of Mrs. Betty Woolever's Senior Girl Scout Troop #25 of Cicero. A "Fancy Dessert Cookbook" was published in 1968 - sponsored by the Martha Circle, recipes were solicited from church members.

Rev. Gordon Knapp became a board member for the North Syracuse Central School in June 1969. That year we donated a narrow strip of land to the Cicero Public Library enabling them to enlarge their building. The three large rooms in the Fred E. Green building were divided in 1969, providing more Sunday School rooms. A new heating plant also was installed.

Seven Boy Scouts of Troop 117 and one Explorer of Post 117 - sponsored by our church - received their God and Country Awards on Sunday, June 14, 1970. The presentation was made by Rev. Gordon Knapp and Scoutmaster Thomas Chase. Boys earning the award after 1-1/2 years work were the following: Ronald Pennock, Mark Chase, Dwight Oaster, Lawrence Chase, Gary Case, Larry Jacobson, James Pennock and Clyde Gregory.

Chaired by Lyle Nye, a special fund drive in 1971, resulted in an enlarged and paved parking lot. The sewer for the parsonage and church was connected that year at a cost of nearly $2,000.

Sunday, February 13, 1972, seven boys of Boy Scout Troop 117 were presented their God and Country award by Rev. Herbert Hoskins. Boys receiving this emblem after 16 months of study were as follows: Mark Blackburn, Kevin Gram, Danny Jacobson, James Mizener, W. Donald Rose, Roy Rose and Scott Schwartz. That fall, on November 15, an outdoor chapel was dedicated as a result of the efforts of Boy Scouts James and Ronald Pennock, earning their Eagle Scout Award. Clyde Gregory also helped with part of the construction of the outdoor chapel. Michael Finley also worked on the chapel, planting blue spruce trees in the shape of a cross and for this he received his Eagle Scout Award on October 13, 1975. Brenda Gaffey and Mike DeFabio were married by Rev. Herbert Hoskins in this outdoor chapel on June 28, 1976. The outdoor chapel was also used for Easter Sunrise Services.

The Lenten Season in 1972 was celebrated beginning on February 16th, with a daily meditation booklet prepared by church members - "We Are God's People." Through individual contributions and donations by church organizations, an Allen computer organ was purchased and first played on Palm Sunday, 1972. An organ concert was performed on May 7th by Hector Olivera and on June 8th, the organ was dedicated with District Superintendent Rev. Robert McCune delivering the sermon. Also, in 1972, a member of the church made an anonymous gift of 300 new hymnals. New furnaces were installed in the Fred E. Green Building, some of the ceilings were lowered and the building was painted inside and out in 1972. That year a new Circle was formed and this group helped in all phases of redecorating and furnishing the Sunday School rooms.

A national evangelistic movement was supported by several local denominations in 1973. "Calling Our Community to Christ" was called Key '73. A banner designed by member, Roy Martz, was hung in several area churches before the Rally which was held on Sunday, April l, 1973, at Sacred Heart Church. Emphasis was on bringing Christian witness to everyone in our community. On Christmas Eve, 1973, our 1859 church bell rang once more. Through the efforts of Rev. Herbert Hoskins, Gerry West, Gene Bowman, Dick Gaffey, and the Trustees, the bell was installed in the tower.

A paint fund drive was held in 1974. After many hours of work by volunteer painters, all three church buildings received a coat of paint.

Our church membership had increased to 764 members in 1975. That year a new south window was installed in Fellowship Hall. Featuring a beautiful frosted cross, the plaque below reads: "Designed and constructed by Bill and Rick Knechtel. Dedicated in Honor of Craig and Bill Knechtel by Family and Friends." Craig died in 1973 and Bill died in 1981. Bill had been active in our church as Sunday School Superintendent and also as a Trustee.

Rev. Herbert Hoskins assisted by District Council Leader Winston Slinde, on June 13, 1976, presented the God and Country Award to two scouts, Steven Eastwood and Michael Finley.

We joined with many other area churches in an ecumenical service on July 4, 1976, to celebrate our nation's bi-centennial. Choirs from six churches, including ours, participated. Guest speaker was Rev. Dr. Jon L. Regier, Executive Secretary of the New York State Council of Churches. This was an outdoor service at Oneida Shores at 10:30 a.m. The weather was ideal and it was a memorable experience. I was honored to be asked to be Grand Marshall in the parade that was held that afternoon in Cicero. Our entry in the parade that day was a float planned to show "the influence of the church in early America." On our float, the 1867 bell from the old Cicero School was featured. Stuart Kilb was dressed as a minister reading the Bible to "parishioners" seated in a pew from the old church. Very prominent on the float was a huge white cross. The float was designed and made by William Knechtel and members of the Sunday School and we received second prize and a trophy.

In 1976, Rev. Herbert Gordon was hired for a six-week period to aid Rev. Hoskins in making calls on shut-ins and prospective new members.

February 27, 1977, was proclaimed "Banner Sunday." For nearly 18 months, Mrs. Robert (Julie) Griffith, Roy Martz and their committee had worked on banners that were hand-painted and hand-sewn to be used with "The Seven Christian Seasons." These include Advent, Christmastide, Epiphany, Lent, Eastertide, Pentecost, and Kingdomtide. Displayed throughout the year in our Sanctuary, each of the seven banners depicts the season by its color, painting and the message portrayed on it.

Rev. Herbert Hoskins was on sick leave for several weeks in 1977. A work day on September 17, 1977, found 28 men putting a new roof on Fellowship Hall. It was all done in one day except the flashing which was finished by John Hoadley. William Knechtel, President of the Board of Trustees, was in charge. December 1977, found many of us purchasing church plates sold by the Sunday School. Pictured on the front was our new church and a short history of the church was on the back.

1978 found our church behind in apportionments. Many special fundraising events took place, including Friday luncheons under the direction of Dora Bowman. Six luncheons earned $666.84. An Antique Show held that year under the leadership of Robert and Harriet Potter realized a profit of $1,248. The Thanksgiving Ecumenical Service was held on November 22, l978, at our church. A celebrated guest attended - Sally Rand, a former fan dancer.

There were 819 members on the church rolls in 1979 and that year we received a $10,000 legacy from Neva Avery. A surprise reception was held on December 30, 1979, honoring Harold Schwarz. He retired after serving 29 years as Head Usher.

"1980 - The Year of the Sunday School" was the title page of a booklet prepared by the Sunday School teachers. On May 18th, the Sunday School celebrated its 200th birthday in the United States. The Sunday service was conducted by members of various classes followed by historical displays and a birthday cake in Fellowship Hall. Phyllis Chapman, Sunday School Superintendent, planned the event. As part of a celebration of the 200th birthday of Sunday School, the Cicero United Methodist Church established an award for youth who have exhibited outstanding Christian service in and through God's church. Chosen by the United Methodist Women, Men's Club, and Adult Sunday School classes, this yearly award, which includes a savings bond and a certificate, has been given high school Juniors since 1980 (a plaque in the narthex lists these names).

  • 1980 Mark Graf, Marie Pennock
  • 1981 Carol Congdon, Karen Bowman
  • 1982 Tammy Graf ,Julie Griffith, Arlen Pfenninger
  • 1983 Sarah King, Wendy Voorhies
  • 1985 Sarah Mount, Kristine Exner, Suzanne Barkley
  • 1986 Linda Congdon
  • 1987 Amy Chapman, Teresa Gregory, Colleen Daley
  • 1988 Norman Bagley, Ruth Bowman, David Hill, David Mount
  • 1989 Richard Chapman, Jason Fleming, Dennis Hill, Todd Teeter
  • 1990 Susan Chapman, Charles Daley
  • 1991 Christina Gregory, Heather Hinds
  • 1992 Lawrence Bonspille, Gregory Broton, Kelly Stever
  • 1993 Bradley Fleming, Christopher Guiles, Brett Prentice
  • 1994 Brandon Bagley, Matthew Burnett
  • 1995 Tiffany Teeter, Steven Williams
  • 1996 Susan Bentley, Lynn Tschudi
  • 1997 Shennen Janisch, Jennifer Hunter
  • 1998 Ryan Irwin

Our church mission project for several months was supporting Michael and Ruth Chitewere with their college education in Pennsylvania; this they completed in July, 1980. They left for their home country of Zimbabwe to help Christian growth there. Ted Purchla, our organist for eight years, left in the fall of 1980. David Bielinda was hired to replace him. He only worked a few months before his illness and death. Phyllis Blackmer accepted the position. A fundraising campaign in 1980, resulted in three sides of Fellowship Hall being covered with vinyl siding. The final side was completed in 1981.

We honored, with a luncheon reception, 77 new church members in July, 1981. These people had joined the church from January 1980, to June 1981.

Members of the Faith Lutheran Church, for the first time in 1981, joined with Sacred Heart and our church in the Annual Ecumenical Thanksgiving Church Service held at our church. November 22, 1981, was Dedication Sunday for our new set of Schulmerick handbells. Money for these was donated by and in memory of church members. Mrs. Marion Congdon, Chairperson of the Work Area in Worship, presented the bells to the church - "dedicated to the glory and praise of God." The first Bell Directors were Arlen Pfenninger and Margaret Rosche. Barbara Edwards started as a Director the following year.

January 3, 1982 marked the dedication of pew Bibles. In the memorial service, Mrs. Marion Congdon, Chairperson of Worship, presented the Bibles in "dedication to the glory of God and for service in the church in memory of Winston Slinde." Also dedicated were Bibles for the choir in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Alvin Dunn. Roger Turk, Chairman of the Administrative Board, accepted the gifts as a Sacred Trust for those in whose memory they were given.

With a majority of the church members voting for a new parsonage, one was purchased in September 1982. Located at 6115 Ridgecrest Drive, North Syracuse, NY, it was a nine-year old single-family, four-bedroom Colonial with a two-car garage. The total cost was $56,000. Rev. Claude and Mrs. Zella Corbett moved in and the consecration was on October 24, 1982, with District Superintendent Rev. Irving Hill officiating. The old parsonage was torn down in May 1983, by Richard Auringer of West Monroe, NY. The area was filled in, graded, seeded and is now the lawn on the south side of the church.

1983 saw quite a change in our Sanctuary. The chancel area was rearranged to accommodate the growing choir. Also, through the generosity of an anonymous donor, the Sanctuary was completely redecorated. This included painting the entire ceiling, wooden beams, woodwork around the windows and walls in the chancel area and also removing the gold wall paper. All remaining wall paper and walls were cleaned. A lot of this work had to be contracted. The result of this endeavor is still evident.

October 1983, our talent project was launched. Two hundred thirty-five people accepted $10 each and agreed to use their talents to increase the amount. The original amount invested was doubled.

Syracuse District, Celebration of Ministry was held on November 6, 1983, at St. Paul's United Methodist Church, Syracuse, NY. Rev. Claude Corbett, with 25 years of service as a minister, was one of seven honored for their years of ordained ministry. A combined choir of the five churches, of which honorees were pastors, presented the anthem, "The Lord is My Light and My Salvation." District Superintendent Rev. Irving Hill delivered the sermon. All seven pastors were presented with a bi-centennial plate. Following the service each pastor was given a cake to share with those present.

June 24, 1984, our church celebrated 200 years of Methodism in the United States by having a Heritage Sunday. Wesley hymns were sung. Members, led by Rev. Claude Corbett, re-committed themselves to Methodism. The order of service was "An order for Morning Prayer" adapted from the Sunday Service of John Wesley. The sermon by Rev. Corbett was entitled "Linking Past and Present." Recognition of 50-year church members was given to:

  • Harvey and Doris Ames
  • Prentiss and Eleanor Williams
  • Ruth Jones
  • Mildred Slinde

Many members were dressed in vintage clothing. A historical display, with church pictures and old hymn books and Bibles, was held in Fellowship Hall. A balloon launch followed with television coverage. A picnic ended the celebration. Nancy Congdon organized this event.

Camp Meeting '84 also celebrated the bi-centennial of Methodism in America. After a year of planning, these meetings were held in the Dome at Syracuse University June 27-July 1, 1984. Many well-known preachers were there including Robert Schuller. Sandi Patti and Willie Nelson were head-liners with music. Chuck Colson was a leader of one of the many workshops. Over 40 of our church members attended. It was a most rewarding spiritual event.

A certificate was presented by Rev. Claude Corbett on October 5, 1984, to Rev. J. Wayne Hunter, bestowing to him the title, "minister emeritus." Rev. Hunter was pastor of the church from 1954-1965. During these years Fellowship Hall was built (1955); the former school building was acquired (1961); and the present sanctuary built (1963).

On Sunday, November 25, 1984, many of our members attended the Service of Praise, Thanksgiving and Dedication by the Central Northern and Western New York Conference honoring Bishop Forrest C. Stith. It was held at Hendricks Chapel, Syracuse University.

The Administrative Board, in March 1985, accepted a goal of $34,068 as our fair share to contribute over 3 years to the Central New York Pension Fund campaign. Over $44,000 was pledged. Carl Pennock chaired this fundraising.

With 48 new members in 1985, our membership reached 826. New storm and screen windows for the Sanctuary were installed in April, 1985. Also, that month picture taking started for a church directory to be ready for distribution in the fall.

On Sunday, October 20, 1985, a very meaningful service was held. Our church building was dedicated "to the glory of God and service of humanity." According to the church discipline, a United Methodist Church cannot be dedicated until paid in full. Built in 1963, the final mortgage payment was made in January, 1985, and the grant from the General Board of Global Ministries was paid in full in September. Rev. Claude Corbett welcomed Conference Executive Rev. Robert McCune; District Superintendent David Oertel; and former Cicero pastors: Rev. Cuthbert Rowe, Rev. Herbert Hoskins, and Rev. Gordon Knapp. Also taking part in the service were James Daley, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, and Charles Bachman, representing the original building committee.

Rev. Patricia Carpenter joined our church as associate pastor in September, 1985. Her responsibilities were to help Rev. Corbett with home visitation, youth work and Christian education. Rev. Carpenter was on medical leave the first part of 1986 and she was not reappointed.

The Advent Season was celebrated on December 1, 1985, with a concert planned by choir director and organist Phyllis Blackmer. The choir members, joined by Sacred Heart Catholic Church's choir and their director and organist, Diana McLaughlin, presented "Gloria," the classic work by Vivaldi. The bell choir also participated. This memorial concert was dedicated in memory of Ruth Jones, a life-time member of this church. She had been active in all phases of the church until her death on December 15, 1984.

June 1, 1986, the Sunday School celebrated the end of the "Year of Education," with a breakfast served in Fellowship Hall. Recognized for serving on our Sunday School staff were these dedicated people:

  • 1 Year - Joan Holland, Barb Carns, Bob Campbell, Karen Smedley
  • 2 Years - Cathy Whelan
  • 3 Years - Donald Finster
  • 4 Years - Karen O'Brien
  • 5 Years - Lee Mount, Jim Exner
  • 6 Years - Claude Corbett
  • 7 Years - Rose Anne Exner, Elaine Mount
  • 9 Years - Gwen Graf
  • 10 Years - Anne Burrows
  • 11 Years - Phyllis Chapman, Dottie Teeter
  • 12 Years - Chris Voorhies
  • 21 Years - Gladys King

Cicero became part of the North Central New York Annual Conference in September 1986. At this time talks began in connection with relocating their offices to our site. Our new burgundy carpet was installed in the sanctuary in July 1986, at a cost of $3,800. On November 30, 1986, the second "Salute to Advent" concert was held. It was under the direction of organist Phyllis Blackmer and honored Rev. Claude and Mrs. Zella Corbett. Gordon Bell was a guest reader. There were selections by the chancel choir as well as the handbell choir under the direction of Barbara Edwards.

March 12-15, 1987, David Mains, from Wheaton, Illinois, director of the radio program, "The Chapel of the Air" was preacher for a series of services held in our church. These were held as a revival to increase membership and strengthen the family in churches throughout the area. This radio program sponsors the devotional "50-Day Adventure" each year at the Lenten Season. Some members of our church have been involved in this program since 1985.

The Third Annual Advent Concert, "The Word Made Flesh," was held on Sunday, November 29, 1987. The chancel choir, under the direction of Phyllis Blackmer, was assisted by readers Rev. Stephen Deckard, Amy Robbins and Michael Simanteris. Guests were our former organist, Theodore Purchla, and soloist Linda Blackmer Springstead. The concert was dedicated in memory of Mina Zinsmeyer and Violet Padgett. Mina, who died on November 28, 1986, had been active for many years in all areas of the church, and Violet, who died on May 11, 1987, was also an active church and choir member and District Officer of the United Methodist Women.

After many meetings and discussions over the years, the decision was made in 1987, that new Sunday School rooms were needed. An agreement was made with the Northern New York Charge Conference to share our site and building costs for a new Conference Center for them and Sunday School rooms and additional rooms for the Cicero Church. The name chosen for our building was Christian Growth Center. The building committee members were: William Robbins, Chairperson; Mrs. Phyllis Chapman, Mrs. Marion Congdon, John Edwards, Mrs. Elaine Mount, Carl Pennock, Robert Potter, Roger Turk, Michael White and Lee Mount. The Conference building committee members were: Stewart Hill, Rev. Carl Johnson, Rev. James Pollard, and Barron Wilson. Membership in 1987 was 868 - we were the 13th largest church in our conference.

Our stewardship campaign was led by Rev. Wesley H. Allen and his wife, Mary. They were from the Office of Finance and Field Service, serving the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church. Over 150 persons were involved in the intensive campaign to raise funds. The drive was held March 3-15, 1988. Campaign Chairman was Lee Mount. Pledges received for over a three year period were $241,000. On March 27, the church received approval from the Church Conference to complete the Christian Growth Center and the Conference facilities. The cost to our church - $450,000 over a 20 year period. Haynor Hoyt Corporation was awarded the building contract. Bennett, Turner and Stone were architects.

  • $45,000 ($25,000 Christian Growth Center, $20,000 CNY Conference)
  • $741,000 ($410,000 to be paid by Christian Growth Center, $331,000 to be paid by CNY Conference)

Ground breaking was May 22, 1988 at 5 p.m. Bishop Forrest Stith attended. Members from the NCNY Conference participating were Mrs. Jollie C. Jerry, Rev. Robert O. Sherburne, Rev. R. David Oertel, Vicki Pultney, Sharon Dugar, Bernard McCarthy. The Christian Growth Center was represented by Rev. Stephen Deckard, Rev. J. Wayne Hunter, William Robbins, Lee Mount, Barbara Carns, Roger Turk, Nancy Morgan and Carl Pennock.

The new building plans necessitated the demolition of the Fred E. Green Building, which had been used for Sunday School rooms since 1961. An Open House was held on June 5, 1988, with 120 attending. Teachers and students revisited the building built in 1923 and which originally was the Cicero Union Free School. Many church members who taught or attended Sunday School in the building since 1961 also came for a final visit. Demolition was on July 11, 1988.

In August 1988, construction began on the new buildings. Within four months most of the outside work was completed. The 6,200 square foot Conference Center included - offices for administrative and program staff, the Conference Resource Center, a room for the history and archive collection and a video production studio. The office of the Onondaga District Superintendent, Rev. John Love, was also in this building.

The Christian Growth Center contained 8,000 square feet of space - all on one floor. Included is the church office, Pastor's study, lounge, Sunday School office, library, space for an assistant pastor, office machines and storage space, nursery and crib room, handicapped accessible lavatories and 15 classrooms. Also included is a beautiful chapel that contains three of the eight-foot stained glass windows that were in the old church built in 1898. Parts of a fourth window were used in the door. These four windows had been kept for 25 years by Mildred Slinde, Edna Mae Parker Barrier, Robert and Janet Jaquay and myself, Lona Flynn. The cleaning, repair, and leading for the windows was done as a volunteer project by Lee Mount. No records have been found in connection with the windows, but the general practice of most churches was to have memorial windows donated. The trio from left to right, as you face them, would have been given by members of the Sunday School classes, the former pastors, and the Epworth League, who at that time had 27 members. The window used in the door was inscribed "In memory of William J. Vollmer by his mother." Other windows were in memory of Rose B. Sneller, Alice Kellogg, Mary L. Moore, Job Bradford, Daniel and Elizabeth VanAlstine, and Martin and Catherine Roller.

On Sunday, October 9, 1988, Rev. Stephen and Mrs. Pamela Deckard became the proud parents of a son, Paul Wesley. He was the first baby in the parsonage since 1947, when Jonathan joined the Rev. Cuthbert Rowe family.

A definite need for an Associate Pastor became apparent and it was with delight that the congregation welcomed Rev. Claude and Mrs. Zella Corbett back to Cicero on January 1, 1989.

On January 7, 1989, over sixty enthusiastic workers met at the church and moved supplies and furniture into the new Sunday School rooms. The old partitions were removed from Fellowship Hall. On the following day, classes met in the new facility. For weeks, teachers and spouses, as well as many church members worked at putting finishing touches to the halls and rooms. Lounge furniture was donated by United Methodist Women. Chris Voorhies refinished two of the pews from the old church and they look so beautiful in our hall. The kitchen was rearranged, new carpet was placed in Fellowship Hall, and with new windows and drapes, the room had a whole new look. Room 15 was chosen as a classroom for Lee Mount's Adult Sunday School class. Members of the class contributed financially toward a large 10-foot by 4-foot oak table. The labor of cutting, sanding and finishing the table was done by class members Ray Murray, Norman Barkley and Lee Mount.

Vivian Pennock retired February 1, 1989, as our church secretary after 8 years. The congregation showed their appreciation for her work with a cake following the January 29th service. June Becksted was hired to replace Vivian.

February 12, 1989 was the big day! A three-fold plan! The 10:15 a.m. Praise and Celebration service was held in the Sanctuary. Following this service, over 60 members attended a dinner at Sam's Lakeside Restaurant, Brewerton. Former pastors Rev. Hunter, Rev. Hoskins and Rev. Corbett were present. At 3 p.m. an Open House was held in both the Conference Center and the Christian Growth Center. The Consecration Service "Thresholds of Opportunity" at 4 p.m., with over 500 attending, was led by Bishop Forrest C. Stith. Offer of the building for use as a Sunday School was led by Phyllis Chapman, Superintendent of the CUMC Sunday School. Offer for Youth was led by David Mount, President of CUMC UMYF. Offer for Senior Citizens was led by Lona Flynn. Offer for Church Offices was led by June Becksted and Vivian Pennock. Conference Office was led by Mrs. Jolie Jerry. Conference Resources was led by Rev. James Pollard. Ecumenical Church was led by Sylvenia Cochran. Words of Welcome were given by Lee Mount, CUMC; Ms. Sylvenia Cochran, Church Center Building Manager; Honorable Michael Bragman, NY State Assemblyman; Rev. R. David Oertel, Chairman NCNY Conference Center Relocation Committee. Prayer of Praise and Consecration Litany was led by Rev. Stephan Deckard of CUMC. Offer for Builders was led by William Robbins. Offer for Trustees was led by Charles Bachman, as Nancy Morgan, Chairman of CUMC Trustees was unable to attend. Architects were represented by R. Keith Turner of Bennett, Turner and Sloan, P.C., and Haylor Hoyt Construction Co. was represented by Gary Thurston and William Vincent.

The ribbon cutting for the Christian Growth Center was done by Carl Pennock, Lay Leader, and Clara Silvernail, Assistant Lay Leader, and for the NCNY Conference offices by Betty Neese, Lay Leader. The key was given by William Robbins, Chairman of the Joint Building Committee, to Rev. Robert O. Sherburne, President of the Conference Board of Trustees. Music was provided by the Asbury bell ringers from Watertown, NY; the Cicero United Methodist Choir, Margaret Ochsner, Director; Carol Congdon, flutist; youth choirs from Erwin United Methodist Church and University United Methodist Church; and the closing doxology with James Burnett, guitarist.

The grading and lawns were done as soon as weather permitted. Landscaping was done under the leadership of Fred and Barbara Edwards. They donated many hours of work, as well as shrubs, to give the building a finished look.

On March 23rd and 24th, 1989, our new chapel was used for the Easter week prayer vigil.

Many of our church members participated in the Billy Graham Crusade held at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, NY, the week of April 25-30, 1989. Workshops, seminars, and rehearsals were attended by many of our members before the actual event. Several members served as councilors and ushers and many participated in the 3,000 member choir with George Beverly Shea, led by Music Director Cliff Burrows. Each meeting was outstanding with a wonderful message from Billy Graham, accompanied by testimonies and music. A week to be remembered.

The new tarvia driveway and parking lot was poured the week of June 5th, 1989.

The first wedding in our new chapel was held June 16, 1989. The bride and groom were Brenda Piedmonte and John St. Denis.

Peter Metz was welcomed as our new Choir Director and Organist in Septemter, 1989.

An appreciation luncheon honoring Phyllis Chapman was held on September 24, 1989. She had been Sunday School Superintendent for 13 years. Nancy Congdon was chosen to replace her. On November 26, 1989, a service was held to decommission the old hymnals. On December 3, the new hymnals were dedicated. Many were donated in honor of or in memory of loved ones. The first communion service held in our new chapel was on December 5, 1989, with Rev. John Love, Onondaga District Superintendent, officiating.

Due to health reasons, we regretfully accepted Rev. Claude Corbett's resignation as Associate Pastor, effective December 31, 1989.

Stephanie Jane, another bundle of joy arrived in the Deckard family on February 4, 1990.

Our Spiritual Renewal Weekend, held April 27-29, 1990, was led by Bishop James K. Mathews and his wife, Eunice (daughter of famed missionary E. Stanley Jones). Bishop Mathews talked about his "adventures with God" in India, Africa, and the Soviet Union. Eunice Mathews spoke about God in her life. Bible Study was on the Book of John.

For the first time in several years, some Sunday School classes were held during the summer months of 1990. Dedication of the Senior Choir stoles was on June 17, 1990, in memory of Rowland Gregory. The Youth Choir, under the direction of Rita Thornton, also had new stoles made by Gladys King and Jackie Robbins.

After many years of keeping "the bells ringing" in church services and concerts, Barbara Edwards resigned in August, 1990, as Bell Director. Mark Dunning replaced her later in the year.

A reception held in Fellowship Hall on September 9, 1990 honored Rev. Deckard, celebrating his twenty years in Christian Ministry. A week later on September 16th, with flowers, food, and music, we bade goodbye to long time church members, Fred and Phyllis Blackmer, who left this area for North Carolina. Fred had been a choir member and Sunday School Superintendent. Phyllis, our Choir Director and Organist for years, is well remembered for her innovative church and concert services. She was also active in many other areas of the church including communications, prayer group leader, and the United Methodist Women.

On September 30, 1990, the blessing and dedication of our church for use as an Onondaga Pastoral Counseling Center took place, also dedication of the chapel in the Christian Growth Center. The lectern, donated by Myrtle Dickson, was dedicated in memory of her husband, Frank Dickson. The chapel organ was donated by Thomas and Jean Hough in memory of Matthew R. Lefever. Donated by family and friends were: the pulpit Bible, pew chairs and altar cloths in memory of Susan Rosche. In addition the communion table and kneeling bench were donated in memory of Mina Zinsmeyer and pew chairs in memory of Martha Wolford. The windows, as already mentioned, were given by Mildred Slinde, Norman and Edna Mae Barrier, Robert and Janet Jaquay and myself, Lona Flynn. Also dedicated were the kitchen fans in memory and honor of all United Methodist Women members by the Cicero United Methodist Women.

January 1, 1991, Elizabeth (Betty) Burlew accepted the position of Spiritual Life Associate.

On January 16, 1991, Operation Desert Shield became Operation Desert Storm. The United States and its allies began an air attack against Iraq on January 17th. The object was to crush that nation's military power and drive it out of Kuwait. Under the leadership of General Norman Schwarzkopf, this war lasted just 100 hours with very few injuries and deaths. Prayers of Thanksgiving were offered by church members for the safe return of the thousands of military members involved, including Steve Broton, John Martineau, Randy Rushworth, James Pennock, and Keith Alexander. Candles had burned in windows of schools and homes, as well as in the church. Members of the Methodist Youth Fellowship had written letters and boxed care packages. I believe this experience helped us all grow spiritually.

Spiritual Renewal weekend was held at the church April 19-21 1991, with Dr. Rose Sims as leader. Dr. Sims is the author of "The Dream Lives On" and leader of the Trilby, FL, United Methodist Church. Rev. Claude and Mrs. Zella Corbett helped in this Florida church as missionaries.

The annual blueberry social was held in July 1991, with the proceeds going to missions. The parking lot was sealed the last week of August and a complete inventory of church property was taken, room by room for insurance purposes. Kay Hinds became our new church secretary, after June Becksted resigned. Sales began in the Fall of 1991 for the new cookbook "Thank Heaven for Home Made Cooks," containing favorite recipes of church members and friends. It was compiled by the Rebekah Circle. The annual turkey supper, which had been discontinued for a few years, was brought back on Saturday, November 2. This annual fundraiser is sponsored by members of the entire church. For the first time in many years our church finished the year without paying our apportionments in full - a result of the economic times.

It was agreed by church members in late 1991 to grant a four-month sabbatical leave to Rev. Deckard. He chose the months of January, February, June, and July 1992. Filling the pulpit in January were Rev. Dale Schneeberger, John Burlew, and Betty Burlew. In February, Rev. Schneeberger and Rev. Jack Love, District Superintendent, did the honors. Rev. Terry Milbyer was on call and in the church office.

On March 21, 1992, Bishop Forrest Stith held his Confirmation Rally at the Cicero United Methodist Church, with over 200 children from the district attending. Spiritual Renewal weekend was held April 3-5, 1992, with Phyllis Tyler-Waymore as leader. She is an ordained Methodist elder and on the General Board of Discipleship.

As Rev. Deckard's sabbatical resumed in June and July, we welcomed back Rev. Corbett for two Sundays, while Betty Burlew and Rev. Thomas Wolfe supplied the other two Sundays in June. In July, Rev. Alex Carmichael was our preacher for two Sundays, Rev. Deckard returned for one Sunday and on Laity Sunday, John Martineau was the speaker.

On July 1, 1992, the Onondaga District of the North Central New York Conference was dissolved and the Cicero United Methodist Church became a part of the Ontario District. Also in July, Bishop Stith was transferred and Rev. Hae-Jong Kim was appointed Bishop of the New York West Area.

1992 found us behind in our apportionments. The Finance Committee decided to use the "Parable of the Talents" as a fundraising event. On Sunday, July 19, ten dollar bills were distributed to anyone willing to invest it on behalf of the church for a three month period. The challenge was to use our God given talents to help our church benefit from our labor. This history of "Methodism in Cicero" is my contribution to this project. Results, so far on October 24, 1992, the money invested has doubled.

August 2 found us saying goodbye to Kay Hinds, our church secretary, and her family. Linda Meigs was hired to replace her.

On November 1, 1992, we have 897 members enrolled. The number of children in our Vacation Bible school and Sunday School is increasing. We also have several Adult Sunday School classes. We have a very active Methodist Youth Fellowship. Our weekly prayer group meets on Monday morning and there are also various study groups. Many of our members are involved in mission outreach through Westside Ministries, the Samaritan Center, and our district involvement. Our music program includes not only our adult choir, but a youth choir, our senior and junior bell choir, and our "Sound Sensations" group. The Lighter Side group helps us all to "stay young."

In closing this short history, I believe that the members of the Cicero United Methodist Church are fulfilling John Wesley's gospel of showing the love and compassion of Christ - not only to each other but to members of the community.

Special Membership Pins, United Methodist Women

The policy of awarding special membership pins began in 1965. These are given in recognition of service to the church, community and the United Methodist Women.

  • 1965 Marie Hunter, Hazel Weston
  • 1966 Carrie Wright
  • 1967 Emma Vollmer
  • 1968 Hazel Parsons
  • 1969 Gertrude Smith, Gertrude Meader
  • 1970 Lillian Pickard, Rhea VanTassell
  • 1971 Edna Gonya, Louise Roller
  • 1972 Pearl Horton, Mildred Mizener
  • 1973 Vivian Osborne, Mina Zinsmeyer
  • 1974 Peg Bachman, Gladys Lorenz
  • 1975 Dora Bowman, Marion Congdon
  • 1976 Shirley Frazer
  • 1977 Mildred Slinde
  • 1978 Lona Flynn
  • 1979 Helen Parker
  • 1980 Margaret Freebern
  • 1981 Ruth Jones, Martha Williams
  • 1982 Vivian Pennock
  • 1983 Bessie House, Violet Padgett
  • 1984 Maxine Davison
  • 1985 Doris Ames, Clara Silvernail
  • 1986 Violet Brauch
  • 1987 Phyllis Blackmer, Eleanor Williams
  • 1988 Barbara Carns
  • 1989 Carol Knapp, Betty Stark
  • 1990 Jackie Robbins
  • 1991 Rosemary Gregory, Marjorie Parker
  • 1992 Myrtle Dickson, Lucille Turk, Ethel Mackay

Currently, members of the United Methodist Women are included in four circles: Priscilla, Dorcas, Naomi and Rebekah. These women work together on yearly projects, including sending cookies to college students, sunshine baskets for shut-ins, World Thank offerings, money to missions, as well as helping with church and parsonage improvements, financial donations to the Christian Growth Center and our church's current expenses. Large fundraisers are the annual bazaar and two rummage sales a year. Fellowship is shared with the annual Mother & Daughter banquet and summer picnics.
Methodist Men's Charter 1966 Dated April 15, 1966
"Be Ye Doers of the Word and Not Hearers Only"

The Men's Club is a very active organization in our church. There are 30 names listed on the charter.

  • Fred Bennett
  • Albert King
  • Wendell Chapman
  • Rowland Gregory
  • John Ladd
  • Lyle Nye
  • Allen G. Dunn
  • Keith Jager
  • Harry C. Wright
  • Ralph Brown
  • Robert Pickard
  • David Kesel
  • Gordon Meader
  • Carl Pennock
  • Robert Jacobson
  • Howard Eckel
  • Richard Williams
  • Guy Smith
  • Prentiss Williams
  • William Woolever
  • Donald Case
  • Charles Bachman
  • Gordon Knapp
  • Edward Cole
  • John Henderson
  • George Hotaling
  • Harry Parker
  • George DeWein
  • Paul Burgmeier
  • Ray Murray

Currently the men have monthly meetings with speakers. They sponsor a Methodist Night at the Ballgame with the Syracuse Chiefs during the summer and a dinner concert evening in December. They also contribute financially to church expenses. Their annual lawn sale is a very successful fundraiser. In May, 1991, the Men's Club chose a two-year project "Adopt-a-Highway." They agreed to pick up, clean up, and maintain two miles of Route 81 - a mile each side of the Cicero exit.

Circuit Preachers Cicero-Clay

  • 1834-1836 Allen J. Tilton
  • 1837 B. J. Phillips
  • 1838 Moses Lyon
  • 1839 William Mason
  • 1840 Orman Lathrop
  • 1841-1842 Moses Lyon
  • 1843-1844 Miles Gaylord
  • 1843-1846 Ebenezer Whipple
  • 1847 Harris Kinsley
  • 1848 Orra Squires
  • 1849-1850 Jacob M. Park
  • 1851 Allen Castle


  • 1853 Anson Tuller
  • 1854 Joseph Snedley
  • 1855 John H. Burnett
  • 1857 John Slee
  • 1858 Browning Nichols
  • 1860 Hiram Nichols
  • 1862 Loren L. Adkins
  • 1864 Amos Nickerson
  • 1872 Orin Switzer
  • 1872 Edwin G. Bush
  • 1877 Mr. Ross
  • 1875 John C. Nichols
  • 1877 Ebenezer Arnold
  • 1878 William H. Bunnell
  • 1881 John W. Jenner
  • 1883 Adam Fancher
  • 1886 Richard L. Stilwell
  • 1888 Walter S. Wright
  • 1891 George W. Moxcey
  • 1892 Oliver D. Fisher
  • 1895 Wesley A. Pratt
  • 1896 Edward Jarvis
  • 1899 Reuben C. Fox
  • 1901 James H. Rogers
  • 1902 Allen E. Atwater
  • 1905 Charles A. Wilson
  • 1906 Olney A. Retan
  • 1911 Ora J. Purington
  • 1914 Louis F. Kelsey
  • 1918 A. Cann
  • 1920 John W. Redder
  • 1922 Harold E. Miller
  • 1923 Charles Ouderkirk
  • 1925 Cassius L. Meyers
  • 1927 George L. Pasche
  • 1928 Elmer J. Yerdon
  • 1932 Dewitt S. Hooker
  • 1935 Leslie E. Simon
  • 1937 Edward N. Howe
  • 1941 Campbell Carmichael
  • 1943 Charles R. Benton
  • 1944 Cuthbert R. Rowe
  • 1948 Jack Luke
  • 1949 Earle VanScoy
  • 1954 J. Wayne Hunter
  • 1965 Gordon Knapp
  • 1970 Herbert Hoskins
  • 1978 Claude Corbett
  • 1987 Stephen Deckard

Pastors' Wives

Pastors' wives of the church have worked side by side with their husbands in his church ministry. Many accepted roles as Sunday School teachers and superintendents, pianists, choir members or directors, officers in church organizations as well as acting as her husband's and/or the church's secretary.

Since World War II, many of our pastors' wives have joined in the trend of becoming "working moms," some helping financially with their children's education.

Since 1923 the Pastors' wives have been:

  • Norine Ouderkirk
  • Jessie Meyers
  • Alletta Pasche
  • Mabel Yerdon
  • Gertrude Hooker
  • Caroline Simon
  • Caroline Simon
  • Helen Carmichael
  • Betty Benton
  • Eloise Rowe
  • Mabel VanScoy
  • Marie Hunter
  • Janet Knapp
  • Marilyn Hoskins
  • Zella Corbett
  • Pamela Deckard

Cicero United Methodist Church - The Future

Our goal in 1992 is: "Fulfilling our mission as a caring church in a growing community."

"A year for growing as we celebrate God's grace and witness for Jesus Christ, we seek to accomplish our goal by attention to:

  • Growing as People
  • Growing as a Community and
  • Growing as a Church."


It is hard to make an interesting story out of dates and facts. There is no intentional omission of names of devoted members who over the years have worked so diligently for this church.

This 158 year history of "Methodism in Cicero" is a tribute to the members who with their prayers, presence, gifts, and service have supported all that the church has accomplished over the years and so have made "all things possible." - Lona Flynn, Church Historian

Our Church Properties in 1965


Church Built 1898 Parsonage Built 1893
Demolished 1963 Demolished 1983


Cicero Union Free School
Built 1923 - Used until 1958
Fred E. Green Building
S.S. Rooms 1961-1988
Demolished July 11, 1988


We celebrate Jesus' birth and Resurrection





Ground-Breaking for Conference
Center & Christian Growth Center
May 22, 1988
Consecration February 12, 1989

1958 - Sunday School Classroom in old building, Mrs. Vivian Pennock teacher. Small table - starting left: S. Turk, J. Burgmeier, T. Burgmeier, D. Sprague, L. Weston, D. Weston, D. Brown, C. Beiling. Large table - starting left: P. Boyke, M. Blackmer, C. Ladd, D. Bleich, D. Chapel, Stout, Peters, G. Meader, P. Wellman, J. Pennock, K. Martin, C. VandeVeer.

Taken in the 50's in old church. Choir Director - P. Blackmer; Organist - E. Gillette; Back row from left: D. Breckinridge, (unknown), D. Gillette, G. Bowman, F. Blackmer, R. Gillette, S. Comstock, L. Roder. Front row from left: C. Osborne, L. Osborne, S. Wintersdorf, S. Parsons, D. Ameigh, K. Dorfer, C. Wellman. Stained glass windows showing behind Phyllis are now in our new chapel.

1958 - Sunday School Classroom in old building, Mrs. Vivian Pennock teacher. Small table - starting left: S. Turk, J. Burgmeier, T. Burgmeier, D. Sprague, L. Weston, D. Weston, D. Brown, C. Beiling. Large table - starting left: P. Boyke, M. Blackmer, C. Ladd, D. Bleich, D. Chapel, Stout, Peters, G. Meader, P. Wellman, J. Pennock, K. Martin, C. VandeVeer.





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