The building that became our church was brought from Naples in the late 1800’s by the Belden Company. This company had the bean factory where the milk plant was built. It housed some of the workers. Some Van Scooters lived there also. Jan. 1, 1896, the building was purchased from Anna M. Webster, Luna A. Hill, Elisha J. Webster and Clara Webster. The property was deeded by William and Carrie Humphrey of Livonia and Charles and Anna H. Marvin from Springwater, June 8, 1907 to the First Episcopal Church of Webster’s Crossing for $1.00. Tracy White told of watching the front window being placed when he was 10 years old. That was 1911 and it took all day.
Jessie May told of her family coming down the hill from Marrowback to attend church at the school just down the road. The sanctuary was small with the altar on the North Wall, the organ or piano nearby, as there was a choir. The pews were old, but usable. The dining room was small also, but everyone managed with what there was. The kitchen had a kitchen stove which later was sold, and a modern stove replaced it. And it came from Rauber’s Agway and was paid for by receipts from noon dinners that were 25 cents apiece. Mona Palmer and Sue Baker, with their aprons on, went up to pay for the stove.
The Ladies Aid was busy in the early 1900’s. In 1924 the church was Methodist and the Ladies Aid became the Women’s Society of Christian Service. Our church was small, but we managed. There were public dinners quite regularly, perhaps bringing in $5 total which was a large sum at that time. From one end of town to the other, many homes were opened to all to come for dinners. We worked diligently to help with the expenses of these dinners. Many activities were planned. Families opened their homes for the socials. Refreshments were served. There were ice cream socials (with home-made ice cream), bake sales, raffles, and fairs held through the years to help finance the church.
In the 1930’s, most of the food was brought from homes, as were the tablecloths, silverware and dishes. I can remember one time when tables were set up in the back of the sanctuary and over 118 people were served. Of these, 85 were served in the sanctuary. In the 1940’s, the dishes were purchased that we are still using in 2005. Donations were accepted and there was 19 cents left over after the purchase.
Clover Gilson was a very dear and talented person, and taught many of us how to do many things. She worked with the Sunday School and the youth group. We had Sunday School classes with many volunteers and later on, a youth group for the older youth and teens. There were Christmas Programs enjoyed by all. As time went on there was need for more room and plans were made to have a dining room and a larger kitchen. The dining room was finished in 1960, and available to all to use for dinners, anniversaries, bazaars, showers and parties of different kinds. Clover Gilson painted murals on the walls. She also made many flannel boards for the Sunday School, and collected wall paper books and scraps of leather from Gunlocks in Wayland.
When the sanctuary was remodeled in 1967-68, the altar and railings were moved from the North wall to its present position along the West wall, the ceiling was lowered, and new pews were installed. Gladys Weed said that her husband Brenard cut and re-glued every one of the new pews. The dollars for the remodeling came from a grant from the Lakeville Community Church. Dorothy Mack gave money toward installing the sound system. The whole interior was repainted.
We have had about 21 ministers in the past 70 years - circuit riders, students and licensed ministers. The ministers shared their services at different times with Springwater, Scottsburg, and Conesus. Springwater and Scottsburg had a parsonage and we shared the expense of homes. The ministers served one, two, three, or five years. They made many friends and we helped in any way we could to assist them in their time with us.
Our organist of 40 years (1935-1975) was Eva M. Humphrey. When asked about this, she just smiled. Sally was our organist for 25 years (1975-2000) until she moved to Conesus, and we had Jim Moore for 5 years, and for the last few years we have Corning School music teacher Margaret Matteson as our pianist. We had a choir in the early days and through 2007 until Wendy West left our church. Many of us participated in the choir in the past.
In 1952, we held our first Candlelight service which was successful and well attended. Clover Gilson was the artist for our design and helped greatly with the program. We had several, one year apart, and then we planned them at 5 year intervals. Our last one was on Heritage Sunday, May 18, 2008. Penny Socials were held until 1999, then “The Lady’s Circle” held them thereafter at the Legion in Conesus.
The dining room was open to all organizations. The Boy Scouts met there. Mike White built the back platform and the first ramp to receive his Eagle Scout Award. Dana Teed did yard work for his Scout Award, and John Jordan received a special Scout award. The Home Bureau met in the dining room occasionally. Rummage Sales, White Elephant Sales, and sale parties like Tupperware and Princess House were held. A fall fair was organized by Linda Jordan, complete with scarecrows from one end of town to the other. We had it for 2 years and it was lots of fun. In 2006, we started a tradition to have a Yard Sale / Rummage Sale in the summer.
Over the years, the Sunday School had many teachers: June Perkins, Mary White, Connie White, Clover Gilson, Gladys Weed, Margie Johnson, Betty Holden, Linda Jordan, Mary Yarger, Sandra Lee James, Paula Longacre, Mary Ann Chandler, Sandra West, Morgan Van Scooter, Mary Ann Chandler and Laura White and others. The Sunday School activities included nature walks, baked food sales, and hay rides. They made items for the Christmas Bazaar, and for the church services. They performed Christmas programs and did Vacation Bible School. The dining room was used for our youth group and Sunday School. In 2005, Andrew Wester and Becky Fox went to Peru as missionaries. In 2007 and 2008, Sara Likkers went to Mississippi for a week to help victims after Hurricane Katrina.
The first recorded wedding service held at our Church was that of John Tonkery and Mary Jane Palmer on February 27, 1951.
In 1966, plans were made to reorganize and rejuvenate our church which was greatly in need of repairs and modernizing. Auctions were held at the Milk Plant and the Humphrey Potato Storage building to help make money. We also had a Street Dance with musicians Harry Reynolds and John Holbrook. In 1967, the altar was changed to the West wall, the sanctuary ceiling was lowered and the pews were brought from the Webster Church with the help of Brenard Weed who had learned of their availability. The pews were trucked to our church by a Stone Company driver. Through a monetary donation from the Lakeville UMC and the Western NY Conference, the sanctuary was remodeled. The pews were sanded and refinished by Gladys Weed and Ruth Holbrook. Betty Holden offered curtains that were used to cover the altar chairs, sewn by Gladys and Ruth. This was a time when we made do with what we had. In 1970, all the dining room chairs, the lectern and the small tables were refinished by the Webster’s Crossing youth using a county youth grant obtained through the efforts of Betty Holden and Katherine Humphrey. The new front window was donated by our organist, Sally Brown, which came from the Conesus UMC which was closed, sold and made into apartments in the early 1970’s. The major work was done by many of the local people, and those that did not work, made monetary donations. Pastor Henry N. Williams worked very hard with everyone during this trying time.
In 1975, the lavatory was put in when Pastor Ron Grube in disbelief learned that we were still using an outhouse. John Holbrook and Ray Wagner were instrumental in helping with this project.
The church kitchen remodeling plans commenced using ideas from the Cornell Cooperative Extension and monies from the Rochester District Men’s Union and donations were made in the 1980’s with the help of Pastor Sheila Swanger and completed in 1989. Paula Longacre made numerous banners for our sanctuary in the 1990’s. The new metal church ramp was put up by trustees headed by Jim Yarger in 2001. Pastor Jeri Kober and her husband Jim resurrected the church bell in 2004. This revealed that the bell had been donated by Mary Webster, photos taken by Jan Longacre, and sparked the idea for Heritage Sunday in the Spring of 2004.
The bell was ringed again starting with the 2004 Christmas Eve service. In 2006, Peter Crichton, Jim Van Scooter and Ralph Hamilton worked on the bell tower and pull ropes, as the main rope disintegrated while Wendy West was ringing it for Phillip and Elizabeth West’s wedding in August. A huge bucket of bat guano was removed from the tower. The ceiling in the tower was redone and replaced by Peter. The tower was screened to keep the bats out. Peter discovered that there was an additional part to the bell so that it could be rung as a toll bell. A red rope was hung to use for ringing the bell and a black rope was hung on the toll hammer. New hangers were installed of wood to hold the ends of the ropes so no one would trip on them in the entrance way.
In 2006, Peter Crichton installed new locks on all the doors in the meeting rooms and on the front sanctuary door. He also was instrumental in putting in a corner storage room in the dining room and building a model of the church with an addition over the dining room.
Many persons worked on the new driveway that was black topped, and the gardens that were renovated. Among them was Sue Strassner who is now the next door neighbor on the south side. The back parking lot was prepared and graveled in 2006. The gravel was brought in by one of the town trucks.
Items like the candelabras and cross, the flags, dining room tables, the church cushions, the meeting room carpet, the sanctuary carpets, the organ, the sconces, and the baptismal font were all purchased with monetary gifts from individuals or groups. The hymnals were replaced in the 1960’s and again in the 1980’s. In 2006, additional hymnals were purchased with donated money. In 2008, the organ was replaced by a piano.
From 1990 to 1997 our church was among the seven that made up the Countryside Cooperative Parish. The other churches were Allen’s Hill, Canadice, Conesus, Hemlock, Ionia, and Scottsburg. We had a newsletter called the “Voice of the Parish” edited by Katherine Humphrey. Sandra West was our Webster’s Crossing UMC reporter.
Everybody in the community helped in one way or the other, and there are some who had special duties, like John and Ruth Holbrook, Rodney and Betty Holden, Ray and Gail Wagner, Brenard and Gladys Weed, and Shorty and Ruth May. Shorty (DeForest) kept close track of expenses and the church building, checking twice a day. Melody Bogdon became our treasurer after Shorty passed on. Phillip and Jeannine Moyer took over the building and grounds duties when the Holden’s moved away. Gradually, Ralph Hamilton, Jim Van Scooter and Peter Crichton took on these duties in 2004-5. Wendy West became out Lay Leader when the Holden’s moved away. In 2008, Valliere Thompson assumed the duties of Chairman, and Sara Lickers Secretary, of the Church Council from the Moyers. Jan Longacre and Jim Yarger became the lay leaders when Wendy West left.
Since Pastor Jeri Kober came in July 2004, many renovations have been done to the church; new roof and siding, a paved road along the south side of the church and new gardens put in by Sue Strassner, parking lot graveled, the large cherry tree in the center of the parking lot was cut down, as were some of the trees along the west and north sides of the property. The bell was repaired, and new members brought into the congregation. We have had many baptisms and marriages: the “News in the Pews” each Sunday has supplemented the “Open Door” Newsletter.
We have many to thank for their help and consideration over all these years. “Just ask me and I will do it,” is the feeling from all.