stcover

MAY NO ONE BE A STRANGER

 

150 YEARS OF UNITARIAN PRESENCE IN SYRACUSE

 

by

 Jean M. Hoefer

 and

 Irene Baros-Johnson

 

 

Drawings by Robert Coye

 

Logo Design by Dorothy Ashley

 

[Reprinted here by permission]

 

MAY MEMORIAL UNITARIAN SOCIETY 

SYRACUSE, NEW YORK

1838 – 1988

 

[Web Page Additions by Roger Hiemstra, MMUUS Archivist]

[Note: See the Invitation At the End of This Document to

Help Write the 1988-2006 History]

 

[page ii]

Copyright @ 1988

May Memorial Unitarian Society

3800 East Genesee Street

Syracuse, New York 13214

 

 

Typeset and Printed by

The Printers Devil North, Inc.

751 North Salina Street

Syracuse, New York 13208

 

[page iii]

CONTENTS

 

Acknowledgements

 

Foreward – Rev. Dr. Nicholas C. Cardell, Jr.                                    1

 

A New Field in the West 1838-1844                                       3

Rev. John P. B. Storer

The Church of the Messiah

 

To Exercise a Larger Liberty 1845-1874                                 7

Rev. Samuel J. May

Abolition

Woman Suffrage

Education Reforms

 

Onward and Upward 1868-1917                                            18

Rev. Samuel R. Calthrop

May Memorial Church

Rev. John H. Applebee

 

100 Years and Beyond 1917-1952                                          26

Rev. Applebee

Rev. W. W. W. Argow

Centennial Celebration

Parish House

Rev. Robert E. Romig

Rev. Glenn O. Canfield

 

Growth, Form, Movement 1952-1964                                              35

Rev. Robert L. Zoerheide

Relocation

Rev. John C. Fuller

 

May Memorial Unitarian Society 1964-1973                                   44

New building on East Genesee Street

Social Change and Hard Times

 

Open Channels 1973-1988                                                      51

Rev. Nicholas C Cardell, Jr.

Sanctuary

 

Conclusion                                                                              59

 

Biographical Briefs                                                                 60

 

Index                                                                                       62

 

[page iv]

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

 

The official minutes of our Unitarian society's board of trustees and congregational meetings are the primary source of this history, along with the documents in our archive files. We used material from Elizabeth Walsh's and Helen Saddington's centennial book A Backward Glance O'er Traveled Roads. The scrapbooks kept by the society's historians over the years and the memories of our members furnished many interesting details. We also found information in the files at the Onondaga Historical Association, the archives of the Unitarian Universalist Association in Boston, and the library of the Meadville/Lombard Theological School in Chicago. We are indebted to the staffs of the OHA and of Meadville Library and to UUA archivist Rev. Mark Harris for their help, and to Dr. Sally Roesch Wagner who furnished the quotation from Matilda Joslyn Gage. We also owe a large debt of gratitude to the many people in the congregation who helped us gather information and who read and critiqued the manuscript.

 

[page 1]

FOREWORD

 

Histories of congregations are usually organized around the ministers who served them, and focused on the styles and emphases of their ministries. This history is no exception. It is probably the most practical approach, but it does not do justice to the multitude of individuals who were and are the congregation.

 

One of my colleagues, the Reverend Jack Mendelsohn, observed many years ago that "Great churches make great ministers." Looking back over the roster of ministers who served this society, it is clear that May Memorial has always been a "great" congregation. The ministry of any religious community depends for its fruitfulness not only on support for ministry, but also on participation in it.

 

For thoughtful, conscious life, all creation is precariously contained in a mended cup of meaning. It is the cup from which we drink our lives, the cup with which we drink to life. It is a cup that is broken and mended, broken and mended, over and over again. Each time an era passes, a way of life is destroyed, or someone of significance to us dies, we may cry out that our cup is broken. It is at such times that we need each other and are needed.

 

Celebration and healing are our tasks. Celebrating the wonders and mysteries of life, and healing – the mending of broken cups and broken lives – these are the ministry to which all of us are called. Nurturing and comforting each other in May Memorial, and reaching out in compassion to those in our larger community whose cups and lives have been broken by the mystery of fate or the cruelty of injustice, these are the tasks that mark many of the high points in the history of this congregation's ministry. It is a ministry that will always need a "great" congregation.

NICK CARDELL, JR.

[page 2]

Storer

 

Rev. John P. B. Storer, first minister 1838-1844

[page 3]

A NEW FIELD IN THE WEST

 

A Unitarian society started in Syracuse during the 1830s, only a few years after the Erie Canal had opened across New York State. In one generation Syracuse had grown from a muddy four corners to a village of more than 3,000 people, comfortable homes, busy offices, and warehouses. There were also taverns and other nightspots where "canawlers" could roister away the tedium of long days and nights on the silent waterway. In several churches the pious listened nightly to tirades about the fires of hell delivered by resident ministers and traveling evangelists who battled Satan along the frontier.

 

Shocked and dismayed by the excesses of the fire and brimstone preachers, Christians as well as free thinkers came out to listen when Unitarian heretics came through from New England to speak about a free religion of reason and brotherhood. Syracuse historian W. Freeman Galpin wrote that Unitarian Rev. Henry Ware spoke in Syracuse. "For one runner employed by the Unitarians to give notice of the gathering," Ware reported, "ten were put in pay by the orthodox to tell people not to go." These efforts resulted in an audience of more than 100 people when he spoke the next day.

 

In the intervals between missionary visits, Unitarians and Universalists gathered for informal religious discussions in their homes. With the help of visiting ministers they wrote a covenant that was signed by 14 people in the parlor of Lydia and Elisha F. Wallace on 13 September 1838 forming the Unitarian Congregational Society of Syracuse. On 4 October 1838 Dr. Hiram Hoyt and Stephen Abbott presided at a meeting in Dr. Mayo's schoolhouse on Church (now Willow) Street where Elihu Walter, Joel Owen, and Stephen Abbott were elected the first trustees. The new congregation began a subscription to collect funds for a church building and invited the Unitarians in Boston to help them find a minister. A wooden chapel that cost $607 was completed at 317 East Genesee Street in January 1839.

 

Several visiting ministers came for a few weeks at a time to hold services and minister to the people. One of the new church officers wrote the General Secretary in Boston, "I have with care noticed the expression of agreeable surprise among all those who for the first time attended the preaching of Messrs. Barrett, Green, Hosmer, Storer, & c." John Parker Boyd Storer, Unitarian minister from Walpole, Massachusetts, visited Syracuse in December 1838 and preached for "eight successive Sabbaths," according to an article in the denomination's newspaper Christian Register in 1839. "At first the hearers were comparatively few in number,

 

[page 4]

but so rapidly increased, that he soon had the satisfaction of addressing a numerous and respectable audience. The Unitarian society at Syracuse by a unanimous vote invited Mr. Storer to become their Pastor." On 30 March 1839 John Storer wrote to his congregation in Walpole that he was very happy there and felt strongly attached to them, but he had made the painful decision that "...it is my duty to go to the West...to tend a new field in the Vineyard of the Lord."

 

John Storer moved to Syracuse in the spring of 1839 to minister to the congregation of the "little tabernacle," as he called the new chapel. His installation service on 20 June was held in the Methodist Church, because the little tabernacle was too small to hold all the congregation and out-of-town visitors who attended. A bachelor, Storer lived at the Syracuse House, a thriving hotel not far from the canal docks, where distinguished travelers stayed and many important meetings were held. Storer was described by those who knew him as a noble Christian, both charming and scholarly. He had an intuitive sympathy for the joys -and sorrows of all people from childhood through old age. Under his leadership the church prospered and grew in spite of orthodox intolerance. A group of young men dared to brave the storm and sneers of Orthodoxy by joining the society, although social ostracism was so strong that few young women could face it. In 1877 C. F. Williston, once mayor of Syracuse, reminisced in a letter to Rev. Samuel Calthrop, "The notorious Elder Knapp used the Baptist Pulpit almost nightly for weeks denouncing the Unitarian Devils as he called us, at the same time asked pardon of 'Old Satan' for slandering him in that manner."

 

The Unitarian congregation soon outgrew the little chapel described in Christian Register as "a small and lowly tenement, which looked more like a wood- house than a place of worship." After the Unitarians moved out, the small wooden chapel continued to shelter new congregations, including the Second Presbyterian, the Second Baptists, the Reformed Dutch, and the Wesleyan Methodists.

 

Our archives contain two letters written by members of the society in March 1840 to John Townsend, one of the largest landowners and developers in the village. They wrote to apply to the land company for a lot on which to build a Unitarian church, because the Baptist, Presbyterian, and Episcopal "houses" were all built on lots donated by Townsend's company. There is no further record of the application, but it must have been turned down, because in August 1840 the society appointed Hiram Putnam, John Wilkinson, William Malcolm, Parley Bassett, and Thomas Spencer to a committee to select and buy a lot for a larger building. The women of the society financed the purchase with "avails from fairs" and two lots on Lock Street (now State Street) at the south

 

[page 5]

syracusehouse2

The Syracuse House

 

corner of Burnet, were bought for $1,000. In the 1840s Lock Street crossed James and Burnet in an area of large, comfortable homes and sloped down toward the Erie Canal lock where the Canal Museum now stands. On the southeast corner of Burnet Avenue and Lock Street the Unitarian Congregational Society of Syracuse erected the Grecian style building it would occupy for the next 42 years.

 

In the summer of 1842 Mr. Storer traveled through New England, preaching in the larger cities and soliciting funds for a new Syracuse church. He collected $1,800 for building the Church of the Messiah. The designer was Horatio Nelson White, church member and partner in the construction firm that framed and finished the building. It was 69 feet long, 47 feet wide, with brick walls resting on stone foundations. Mason work was done by David Cogswell, also a member of the congregation. The front door on the west end was framed by two square Ionic columns and a stone lintel. Above the pediment over the entrance stood a square bell tower topped by a weather vane. Inside the front entrance way were stairs down to the basement and up to the gallery and belfry. The auditorium, described as chaste and elegant by a writer in the Christian Register, had "delicate and rich pilasters and entablatures of marble on either side of the pulpit."

 

Between the signing of contracts on 12 June 1843 and the dedication ceremonies in November of the same year, the trustees raised subscriptions and sold pews to cover construction costs of $5,000. Several contributions to the building fund came from people belonging to other

 

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denominations. The cornerstone was laid 27 June, the building completed that fall, and dedication of the Church of the Messiah was celebrated on 23 November 1843. The congregation occupied their new house debt free and with money left over for ongoing expenses. In his dedication sermon Mr. Storer defined Christianity as a religion depending on reason, based on 1 Peter iii.15, "be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you."

 

Shortly after moving to Syracuse, John Storer had begun to suffer from a heart condition. Historian W. Freeman Galpin wrote that Storer assumed an enormously heavy load in Syracuse: "Not only did he seek to administer to his own people and advance the cause of Unitarianism by missionary activities in neighboring towns, but he also sought to further each and every humanitarian effort that appeared in the village. The task proved too much for him and he wrote several pitiable letters to the Unitarian Association begging them to relieve him."

 

The Syracuse congregation did not accept his resignation but granted him an unlimited leave of absence to recover his health. He was packed and ready to leave when he died of a heart attack on 17 March 1844.

 

Unitarian ministers and friends from Storer's former congregations traveled to Syracuse for his funeral. A young men's literary society of Syracuse attended the funeral as a body and some of them wept openly. Christian Register printed long articles describing his excellent life. A large part of Storer's work in Syracuse had been discussing the meaning of religion with people, even ministers of other churches, "who have been disgusted and made to doubt all religion by Orthodox influence." He left behind him "a well established society, a numerous Church, and a flourishing Sunday School, with its charity circle, meeting in a beautiful temple, for whose walls he had labored."

 

[page 7]

TO EXERCISE A LARGER LIBERTY

 

Rev. Samuel Joseph May preached his first sermon in Syracuse during the summer of 1843 when the new church was being built. He was taking his wife Lucretia on a vacation trip to Niagara Falls, financed in part by preaching along the way. An abolitionist rally had been held at the Unitarian chapel a few days before and John Storer had complained, "Abbey Kelly, Collins and the whole band of Reformers and Liberators are among us. They have turned our Chapel into a council Chamber and hall of angry contention." Always the peacemaker, May preached on a religious topic while Storer took the opportunity to give a sermon in Seneca Falls.

 

Samuel Joseph May was born in Boston on 12 September 1797, the tenth of twelve children. His father was Joseph May, one of the original Unitarians at King's Chapel in Boston. His mother was descended from Chief Justice Sewell who had participated in, and then later exposed, the witchcraft delusion in Massachusetts more than a century before. Sam went to preparatory school in Boston and graduated from Harvard in 1817. He taught school while a student at the Divinity School in Cambridge, where he graduated in 1820. He embraced the pure Christianity of the Unitarians, considering it presumptuous to prescribe a creed not found in the words of Jesus himself. On 13 March 1822 he was ordained in King's Chapel, Boston. For a brief time he assisted the well known Unitarian leader Rev. William Ellery Channing who arranged for May to visit and speak in churches in New York and other cities. His first ministry was the Unitarian Church in Brooklyn, Connecticut where he stayed for 14 years. He worked for a year and a half as General Agent of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society and then served the Unitarian church at South Scituate, Massachusetts for six years. For two years before moving to Syracuse, he was principal of the Female Normal School in Lexington, Massachusetts.

 

When Sam May came back to Syracuse as a candidate for the pulpit opened by the death of John Storer, he made sure that the congregation understood his commitments to peace, temperance, and especially abolition. He had left two previous ministries after conflicts with parishioners who objected to holding abolition meetings and who wanted Negroes to sit in separate pews. During the past two years in his position as head of a teacher's training school he had been criticized for being a model of radical activism among his students. He wrote about his candidating in Syracuse, "I intended they should clearly understand whom they were calling, if they called me."

 

[page 8]

 

May

 

Rev. Samuel J. May, second minister 1845-1868

 

After accepting the congregation's unanimous invitation to be minister of the Church of the Messiah in late 1844, Sam May lingered in Massachusetts to help resolve a property dispute between two factions of a divided church in Lexington, and to give Lucretia time to recover from a premature delivery. The May family moved to Syracuse in April 1845. While Lucretia unpacked and settled the family, Sam found much work to do in this fast-growing community.

 

The raw canal town troubled the New England preacher who wrote that he was used to "country towns where there was scarcely any poverty." He was "sorely tried by the abject poverty" he saw and frequently found himself "drawn beyond his means to give relief." During his first year in Syracuse he helped open a county home for orphaned children that was backed by a group including Lydia Wallace and other members of the Unitarian Society. May and other ministers

 

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worked together for state legislation to provide education and housing for canal boys. The boys were rowdy, ignorant canal workers, usually homeless or runaway youths who were shamefully exploited and often in trouble with the law. May also helped start a school for children at the Onondaga Indian Reservation. A planning group met at the Congregational Church in February 1846 and by November of the same year a school building with seats and desks for 70 pupils was dedicated at the Reservation. May and others acted within the cultural bias of their time by setting a curriculum that taught farming and housekeeping skills and emphasized steady work habits. More than a century passed before educators considered including the language and traditions of the Onondaga Nation in the school curriculum.

 

With some of his church members and other philanthropic friends, May started the first hospital in Syracuse. After it failed they supported Father James O'Hara of St. Mary's Catholic Church, who founded St. Joseph's Hospital. It was staffed by nuns, who were viewed with suspicion by the narrowly Protestant segments of Syracuse society. For his strong objections to that form of prejudice, May became very popular in the Catholic community.

 

Sam May's lifelong concern was to prevent unnecessary misery. Like his father, a Boston philanthropist about whom he said, "He never seemed to feel displeased when asked to relieve the necessities of his fellow beings..." Sam May could always be relied on for constructive direction and concrete help. Lucretia complained about the constant parade of petitioners that appeared at their door daily, except when the newspaper announced that the Reverend May was out of the city. He may have felt inadequate to fill the financial needs of the poor, but Sam May never doubted the practical uses of loving concern for them. He often exhorted church members to respect the humblest persons, for all people are entitled to courtesy as well as justice.

 

May held community discussion meetings at City Hall. One of his parishioners, Harriet Smith Mills (mother of suffragist Harriet May Mills), described the openness of these Sunday afternoon meetings that were attended by ministers and people from all different churches. She wrote, "...it seemed to me the ideal way of seeking truth...as no one has the whole truth, and from none is it fully hidden." She sensed a real communion at the meetings, a fellowship and fraternity beyond the sectarian bonds that divide people.

 

May had a less formal style than many ministers. He wore a suit, not a robe in the pulpit. He invited to the communion table all who wished to commemorate the life and teachings of Jesus as a divinely inspired model. The Christianity that May preached and professed stressed freedom of thought. When he addressed the Divinity School graduates at Harvard College in 1847, May defined his concept of the ministry. "Do all you can to make them think," he said, not only for affirming individual

 

[page 10]

free will, but also for developing citizens capable of self-government. For Sam May, the core of Unitarian theology lay in the human mind and heart, "...it can do a man no good to assert to that as a truth, which he does not perceive to be true; it can do his heart no good to obey a precept, which he does not from his heart believe to be right." May advised the graduates to be open to learning even from the poor and illiterate, who, he assured them, would put to shame their privileged education.

 

Pacifism and nonviolence were natural outgrowths of May's religion. He preached against capital punishment, and the whole Syracuse community felt the strength of his convictions for the first time in 1846 when he actively opposed the Mexican War. Newspapers were reporting the courageous exploits of young men at the front, and the President's call for more recruits resulted in a rally being held in Syracuse on June 4. Shortly afterward a petition of protest appeared several times in the pages of the Syracuse Star with a lengthening list of signers led by the name Samuel J. May. More than 100 petitioners called for "all who would stay the tide of war...to make their opinions known and their influence felt." Earlier that year May had laid the groundwork carefully among his congregation with a series of sermons that stimulated thought and discussion about working for peace. In his previous ministries he had organized peace societies both in the community and in his own Sunday school. Several people from the Syracuse community organized a peace meeting on 18 June in the Empire Hall. Peace-minded folk who attended the meeting were driven out by a crowd of "Warites." The meeting reconvened in the Congregational Church, where they managed to hear speeches and pass peace resolutions in spite of harassment from a crowd outside that hauled up a six-pound cannon and fired it. The newspaper and the Warites called the peace faction Tories and traitors. May replied in the newspaper, "Much rather would I be called a Tory than a soldier – a butcher of men. Much rather would I be called a traitor to my country than a traitor to Mankind...War is the greatest of human crimes for it includes all others."

 

May's activism undoubtedly alienated some of his flock, but his loving attitude toward all people regardless of their opinions made his church popular. His congregation soon outgrew its building. In the autumn of 1850 they rebuilt one end of the church to make it 20 feet longer, allowing the addition of 28 more pews. They also added a spire on top of the bell tower, which was the cause of a remarkable catastrophe little more than one year later. Early Sunday morning 29 February 1852 the church was destroyed "by a hurricane which struck the spire; threw it directly upon the ridge pole, crushed down the whole roof, burst out the side and end walls, and in one movement demolished the entire building excepting the front and the foundation." When the Unitarians arrived for Sunday services they found their church was a pile of rubble. Near the

 

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east end of the building the roof of the Northrup family home was crushed by the falling bricks, trapping two women in the ruins. The church had collapsed about three o'clock in the morning while the women were sleeping, fortunately for them, in a sturdy four-poster bed. When the brick and timbers were cleared away, there were the two ladies, unhurt, with the fallen ceiling suspended over them by the bedposts.

 

The stunned Unitarians gathering around the fallen building were mocked by some more orthodox observers who "exulted over the penalty" that the Almighty had exacted from the "unbelievers." The congregation arranged to hold emergency services in City Hall, and after pledging to reimburse the owner of the damaged house, Sam May reassured his congregation with "a very feeling sermon" based on the gospel according to Luke, xiii, 4, 5: "Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."

 

For weeks the town was "rife with opinions on the matter of the punishment..." But Mr. Northrup, a Methodist, took a moderate view saying, "If the storm was God's punishment for unbelief, why was the steeple allowed to fall on our house? We are orthodox. Don't make out God to be meaner than man. If your house falls down, don't change your religion but change your carpenter."

 

The Unitarian church trustees requested permission to hold services in the First Presbyterian Church each Sabbath at 5 o’clock until their own building was rebuilt. The Presbyterian minister and trustees, who often worked with the Unitarians on charitable, civic, and business affairs, agreed, but a majority of the Presbyterian church members voted against allowing Unitarian services on their property. The Methodist Episcopal congregation also denied the request. The Mayor and the Common Council of Syracuse were not so fearful of heaven's wrath and allowed the Unitarian society to hold services in City Hall until the Church of the Messiah was rebuilt.

 

Once again, H. N. White was designated by the trustees to oversee construction of the church building. Most of the $10,000 cost of rebuilding came from a public auction of pews, although $2,000 was contributed by friends in New York and New England, and $750 by members of other Syracuse churches. Pews were appraised from $50 in the last row up to $300 in the middle of the center section and $200 in the front. White was voted a pew in gratitude for his work. Diagrams showing the location of pews and names of their owners are in the old record book of the congregation.

 

The building was rededicated on 14 April 1853. One local newspaper reported that the service emphasized God's work: "Remember those in

 

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churchofmessiah2

 

bonds...those in adversity...(and) to prevent men from putting the bottle in their neighbor's mouth making him drunken also." Another paper printed Mr. May's entire dedication sermon that "summoned ourselves and others to exercise a larger liberty...to make religious doctrine and religious duty the subjects of their own personal investigation."

 

The anti- Unitarian sentiment in Syracuse was kept up by visiting evangelists like the famous Rev. Charles G. Finney. May once encouraged members of his church to go to hear one of the hellfire and damnation preachers, and then responded to the revival message before a packed congregation in the Church of the Messiah the next Sunday. His audience applauded long and loud when he said that the eternally unforgiving God described by the evangelist was not a father but a fiend. In February and March 1854 May was challenged to a religious debate by the Wesleyan Methodist minister, Rev. Luther Lee, with whom he often

 

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cooperated on abolition and temperance work. May accepted, and treated the citizens of Syracuse to his own version of a revival – a series of eleven public debates that stimulated them to think about their beliefs. Between sessions, the orthodox ministers in town gathered to help their colleague prepare arguments defending the doctrine of the Trinity. Besides his own theological training, May could draw support for his arguments from members of his congregation, and from Lucretia's suggestions, as she was well read in theology. May called creeds "digests of unintelligibilities." At the end of the debates, May praised abolition reformers. He said their devotion to the cause of crushed humanity was the cause of Christ, not dogmas devised by men in the fourth or fifth centuries. Even if such dogmas were true, he said, they "would not comfort the afflicted, nor clothe the naked, nor break the yoke of the enslaved."

 

May was a founding member of the American Antislavery Society. He frequently arranged for the group to meet in Syracuse. He gave speeches at many antislavery meetings and was often chairman or a member of the committee to draft resolutions. At national Unitarian meetings he castigated the national policy of compromise between free and slave states as a betrayal of common humanity for the sake of political expediency. His criticism prompted William Ellery Channing, the most prominent Unitarian advocate of reform, to write and speak out against slavery. May worked closely with the minister of the Syracuse AME Zion Church, the Reverend Jermain Loguen, himself an escaped slave, to raise money for fugitive slaves and for the legal defense of those who were recaptured. Both men's homes were "stations" for the illegal shelter of slaves escaping on the underground railroad.

 

In October 1851 May played a leading role in the famous Jerry Rescue in which a large number of men, including some leading citizens, stormed the jail and freed a former slave named Jerry who had been arrested under the Fugitive Slave Act. An escape attempt earlier in the day had failed and Jerry had been injured. May visited him in jail and promised him that he would be freed. The successful rescue was planned in the office of Dr. Hiram Hoyt, one of the founders of the Unitarian society. The rescuers organized their operation carefully so that no one was killed or seriously injured in the struggle, although the jail building suffered a lot of damage. Other Syracusans considered the rescue an outrage against law and order. They held a protest meeting and 677 citizens signed a petition denouncing the "Jerry Riot" But there were strong antislavery sympathizers like former Mayor Alfred H. Hovey who had chaired a meeting of protest against the Fugitive Slave Act when it was passed in 1850. Several of the principal rescuers (rioters) were arrested and Unitarians George Barnes, Oliver T. Burt, Dr. Lyman Clary, and Captain Hiram Putnam put up most of their bail, while Charles B. Sedgwick provided legal counsel. None of the antislavery people who

 

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participated in Jerry's rescue were sent to jail. For years afterward, whenever Sam May faced a controversy, he would remark with a twinkle that he was getting ready for another Jerry Rescue.

 

Illness kept May out of the fray during part of 1858 and most of 1859. He rested in Boston and then toured Europe for his health, while Rev. Joseph Angier supplied the Syracuse pulpit. May returned late in 1859 to resume both his ministry and his abolition work. In December he and Rev. Strieby of Plymouth Congregational Church held a memorial ceremony at City Hall to honor John Brown, recently hanged at Harper's Ferry.

 

At an antislavery convention in Syracuse in 1860, a mob of proslavery protesters drove the delegates out of the meeting hall, marched through the city and burned effigies of Sam May and Susan B. Anthony in the center of the downtown business section. Many prominent citizens, including 20 Unitarians, had petitioned for cancellation of the convention, but after that incident, Church of the Messiah members rallied to support their minister. A congregational meeting immediately passed resolutions condemning the shocking disrespect for freedom of speech shown by the proslavery forces.

 

Sam May viewed the destruction and bloodshed of the Civil War as a judgment on both the North and the South for participating in the sin of slavery. Young men from his church enlisted in the army and many other members of the society volunteered to aid the war effort. The women sewed, knitted, and prepared bandages, the men worked with the Sanitary Commission to organize shipments of supplies for the wounded. May traveled to Washington as Onondaga County's representative for the Commission. After the slaves were freed, May raised money for schools for freedmen in the South and encouraged dedicated women to teach in this pioneering field.

 

When he spoke of the rights of citizens, May also included the rights of women. Before he met antislavery activists Lucretia Mott and the Grimke sisters in the early 1830s May had never questioned the common assumption that women were not to engage in public affairs. Troubled at first by women speaking in public places, he had listened with an open mind and soon adopted their cause as his own. He invited women such as the Quaker leader Lucretia Mott and Congregationalist Rev. Antoinette Brown to speak from his pulpit in Syracuse, and he urged other ministers to do the same. One of his first sermons after coming to Syracuse was "The Rights and Condition of Women" in which he called for women's full political participation and equal rights in every way. He arranged for publication of 2,000 copies of the sermon for the use of women suffragists and it became Women's Rights Tract #1, the first of many educational pamphlets calling for civil rights for women.

 

Some Syracusans were shocked and outraged when May stood on the platform with women who were wearing the controversial bloomer

 

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costume. He was reluctant to discuss women's clothing but was eventually persuaded to come out against tight corsets and other disabling fashions when the conservative clergy and press ridiculed the reformers. Soon afterward a group of village ladies called on him to complain about this public discussion of women's dress, announcing that they had a message for him from the Lord. May received them cordially and remarked he did not doubt they had a message, but he did doubt its authorship.

 

After the Civil War, Sam May helped organize the Onondaga County Suffrage Association and held a series of meetings at City Hall. He invited Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucy Stone to speak, promising "two or three able, gentlemanly opponents who are sincere in thinking our doctrines erroneous – and who will give them an opportunity fully to vindicate those doctrines in every particular." When the first National Conference of Unitarian Churches was held in 1865, May stirred controversy by suggesting that Universalists should also be invited, and that churches should send both men and women as delegates. At the second national conference in 1866 two women from Rochester attended as substitute delegates and the conference voted "that our churches shall be left to their own wishes and discretion with reference to the sex of the delegates chosen to represent them in this conference." The Church of the Messiah was host for the 1866 meeting. Fourteen carriages of church members met delegates as they arrived at the train station, and members entertained the visitors at a large reception at the end of the conference.

 

Early in his ministry May had seen the devastating effects of alcohol abuse on individuals and their families, which led him to enlist in the temperance movement. He taught temperance songs in his Sunday schools, urged the school children to "sign the pledge" promising never to use alcohol, and supported community temperance rallies wherever he lived. During his Syracuse ministry he often spoke at temperance meetings and fought for enforcement of local liquor laws. Temperance speakers appeared regularly at the Church of the Messiah. With other members of the Society, including James L. Bagg and C. DeB. Mills, May worked with the New York State Temperance Association and helped form two local organizations, the Syracuse Temperance Society and the Syracuse Temperance Union.

 

All of May's deepest convictions seemed to coalesce in his educational work, and this may have been his most important and lasting contribution to Syracuse. In 1848 he worded the resolutions at a public meeting that established the school system of the newly incorporated City of Syracuse. He became a popular speaker at education conventions, well known for his support of public education and integration of black students in the schools. In 1865 he was elected to the Syracuse Board of Education and served as its president from 1866 to 1869. The city badly needed a new high school, but the Common

 

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Council was not interested, so May led a campaign to raise part of the money and persuade the city to build the school. He recruited Andrew D. White, a prominent educator who later became first president of Cornell, to collect funds. He enlisted public enthusiasm at a meeting in the fall of 1866 and in December the citizens voted $75,000 for the new high school, which was built at West Genesee and Wallace Streets two years later. So that every child could have a desk and a chair at school, May directed the primary schools to hold half-day sessions to relieve overcrowding until additions and new buildings were ready for classes. May inspected the schools, interviewed and hired teachers, increased their salaries, shaped curriculum, and advocated teaching methods consistent with his philosophy of freedom and respect for the individual. In 1869 the Board of Education voted to try out a tougher suspension policy to enforce discipline in the schools instead of using the customary corporal punishment. During the trial year, May counseled teachers on how to assert personal authority, appeal to children's sense of right and wrong, and invite parental cooperation. The innovation worked. At the end of the trial year official reports noted a decrease in behavior problems among pupils, and the teachers voted overwhelmingly against reinstating corporal punishment.

 

After May's term on the Board was over, a new elementary school on Seneca Street between Otisco and Tully was named the May School. Football was a new sport, and Sam May sent away to Boston for a present, a new football for the boys at May School. Despite his age and being somewhat lame, May personally taught the schoolboys how to play the game of football.

 

In 1868 May resigned his pulpit because of ill health and the society called Rev. Samuel Calthrop to be their minister. Lucretia May had died in 1865 and Sam went to live at the home of his daughter, Charlotte May Wilkinson. He continued to work as a missionary, preaching in nearby towns and villages and traveling as far as Albany and Toronto. He wrote, "There is no use in moping down the decline of life. I never was more busy, nor more merry than I have been since I declared myself superannuated."

 

In the summer of 1871 his friend Andrew White, president of Cornell University, called on him to announce the fulfillment of one of May's long-held dreams. Women students were to be admitted to Cornell. To celebrate this good news, May presented to White a large portrait of Prudence Crandall, a Quaker schoolteacher whom May had known back in Connecticut in 1833 when she was persecuted for teaching black and white girls together in the same school. The painting still hangs in Cornell's Olin Library.

 

During the night following White's. visit Sam May died, ending 26 years of loving service to a community that had known him as pastor,

 

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teacher, and friend. They all came to his funeral, people from rich homes and humble ones, from his own religious society and many others, colleagues in his struggle for human and civil rights, individuals he had helped and befriended. Black people in Syracuse wore black armbands as they had at the death of Abraham Lincoln. The congregation of Temple Society of Concord attended as a body. The eulogies stressed his warmth and humanity. Unitarians spoke tenderly of their loved religious teacher and his generous self-sacrifices, "a brother to all mankind." They made a marble tablet with the following inscription:

 

In memory of Samuel Joseph May, born in Boston September 12, 1797, died in Syracuse July 1, 1871. The beloved minister of this church during twenty-four years, his life diffused the radiance of piety and charity throughout this community. A loyal follower of Jesus, he loved God supremely and his fellow-men as himself. He helped the erring and sorrowful and uplifted the downtrodden. In the struggle against slavery he was among the earliest, most fearless and most constant. A fervent, devout preacher, an assiduous, loving pastor, an untiring apostle of education, temperance and peace, a steadfast defender of spiritual liberty. Trusting wholly in the ideal right he labored from youth to age to bring in the kingdom of God. When death was near he said: "I may have hereafter a clearer vision, I can hardly have a surer faith."

 

The tablet was installed below a large stained glass window when the James Street church was dedicated in 1885 and was not removed until the building was sold in 1963. At this writing its location is unknown. Matilda Joslyn Gage, a radical feminist of the day, wrote after May's death, "A curious ignoring of his position on (women's rights) took place at the time of his funeral services, not one eulogist at church or grave even remotely alluding to his full and well-known sympathy with the woman suffrage movement; nor was a woman asked to speak upon that occasion."

 

The Unitarian Society purchased a marble bust of May made by a young artist from Syracuse, Isabella Graham Gifford. The bust was considered an excellent likeness and was displayed in the Central Library until it was given to the Onondaga Historical Association. The bust of May displayed in the Unitarian church for so many years is a second one carved by Isabella Gifford to be shown at the Philadelphia Centennial exhibition in 1876. The chip on the nose was acquired before Isabella Gifford's sisters presented the bust to the church in 1905. This second bust now stands in the Memorial Room of the present church, a constant reminder of the pastor who gave his name as well as his loving leadership to the Unitarian Society of Syracuse.

 

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ONWARD AND UPWARD

 

A man of great presence and enthusiasm, with a superb education and eight years pastoral experience, a vigorous 39-year-old Samuel Calthrop accepted the call of the Church of the Messiah to fill the pulpit so long occupied by Samuel May. No one could ever take May's place, but the people had great hopes for this big, handsome Englishman who had left the Church of England because it worshipped “a bad god." He had been an honor student preparing for the ministry at Cambridge University, but was refused his diploma when he declined to subscribe to the articles of faith of the English Church. He came to the United States in the early 1850s seeking a church that taught the goodness and wonder of God's universe, a theme that he preached extemporaneously for the rest of his life. His optimism is expressed in the congregational response he led on Sunday mornings: "I believe in the Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of man, the leadership of Jesus, salvation by character, progress of mankind, onward and upward forever."

 

To prepare himself for the American ministry, Calthrop lectured at Harvard and then started a school for boys at Bridgeport, Connecticut, believing that if he got to know the children, he would learn to understand the parents. He was ordained at a Congregational church in Marblehead, Massachusetts and served Unitarian churches in Boston and then Roxbury, before he was called to Syracuse.

 

Financially embarrassed by his move to Syracuse, Calthrop accepted invitations to lecture in addition to his pastoral work. He spoke before civic groups in Syracuse and traveled to New York City, Troy, Cornell University, and other places giving lectures singly or in series on education, physical training, and various scientific subjects, as well as preaching as guest minister in pulpits all over the Northeast. News articles of the day described his talks as forcible, striking, original, profound, and entertaining.

 

In the spring of 1871 Calthrop moved his family from a house on West Genesee Street to a Tudor mansion built by Erastus Corning on top of a wooded drumlin a few miles south of the city. He named the estate Primrose Hill after his wife, Elizabeth Primrose Calthrop. For many years this house and its extensive grounds were the setting for weekly discussions in the winter and "basket sociables" in the summer at which the congregation, friends, and neighbors were all welcome. The only traces of the place left today are Calthrop and Primrose Avenues on the south side of Syracuse. The house was razed during the 1920s, the hill sold and leveled for its gravel.

 

Changes in the church followed Samuel Calthrop's arrival. The board of trustees was enlarged from six to nine men, and the names of women

 

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began to appear in the official minutes, which always before had been exclusively masculine. A committee was appointed to welcome and seat newcomers at Sunday services. Pews were free and revenues to support the church came from an "envelope system” of voluntary pledges. The church was mortgaged to pay for renovations, including finishing the basement rooms for meetings and Sunday school classes. Members argued hotly over allowing the “children" to dance at church socials in the new basement. Among the many volunteer Sunday school superintendents who served over the years, Mary Redfield Bagg stands out for the graded course of study that she introduced at May Memorial. It was adopted by other churches in the denomination for their Sunday schools.

 

During the 1870s the congregation could not meet expenses and Mr. Calthrop took several cuts in salary. In the face of continuing deficits, the church decided to reinstate the sale of pews in 1878, and gave up the "envelope system" of subscriptions completely several years later. The ladies of the congregation received a special resolution of thanks in 1878 "for the very efficient manner in which they had extinguished the church debt." As a group, the church women were now pledging several hundred dollars a year in fund-raising events. At this time they were not formally organized, but several years later the women of May Memorial formed the Women's Auxiliary to the Unitarian Association. This organization eventually became the Women's Alliance under the local leadership of Mary Bagg and Maria Saul Jenney.

 

The new church meeting rooms were used by groups outside the congregation. For several years Calthrop held classes there, inviting the public to study subjects like astronomy, botany, geology, chemistry, Roman history, and the Hebrew prophets. The Syracuse Botany Club was formed by his students and is still active today. It was organized by members of a fern class taught by Lily Barnes. Mrs. L. L. Goodrich was president for 30 years.

 

Calthrop read omnivorously and kept his congregation informed about intellectual trends and controversies. From his pulpit he dared to advocate that latest scientific heresy, evolution. In 1871 he mentioned the subject in the graduation address he gave at Harvard Divinity School, declaring later that it was his first public utterance on evolution outside his own church. When Calthrop received the gift of a telescope from Edward B. Judson, banker and long-time trustee of the church, he built an observatory on his hilltop estate, where he gave talks on astronomy. He also studied sunspots and issued widely quoted reports correlating his solar observations with weather conditions on earth. As he grew older he traveled less but he kept up his interests in sports and recreation. He organized chess tournaments and promoted the sports of tennis and college crew racing. He always kept a large garden and grew the first tomatoes ever shown at the State Fair. In 1900 Syracuse

 

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University awarded him an honorary LH.D. with the tribute, "There is no honorable designation too good for him."

 

Sam Calthrop's absent-mindedness was legendary. There are several stories of his riding or driving his horses on some errand and then walking home without them. It was said that, left to care for his baby daughter, he deposited her with a neighbor, and when Mrs. Calthrop came home he did not know where the child was. Once when Mrs. Calthrop was out for the evening, he put the children to bed, and reported to her later that one of them had put up quite a struggle. When she looked in on the sleeping children, she found that the recalcitrant one was not hers but the child of a neighbor. One summer he came to town from his summer camp at the head of Skaneateles Lake to officiate at a wedding but, with no one along to remind him, he went instead to the library, where searchers from the anxious wedding party found him peacefully reading.

 

Syracuse was growing and so was the Unitarian Society. The congregation was ready for a larger church in 1883 when opportunity came in the form of the New York, West Shore and Buffalo Railroad that built a line between Burnet Avenue and the canal. The company asked to buy the south end of the society's property to lay tracks within 45 feet of the church building. The trustees replied, "... the construction of the road across the land will destroy its value for a place of public worship and for the religious education of children." The church record gives few details, but in the summer of 1883 a court settlement for "land and damages" paid by the railroad enabled the congregation to retire its debts and start a subscription for a new and larger building, which they decided to call "The May Memorial Church."

 

After some attempts at advertising for building plans, the trustees again hired Horatio White to design and oversee the building of the church, to be constructed of Onondaga limestone on a lot at 472 James Street. Several more subscriptions were raised before the cornerstone was laid with appropriate ceremony on the afternoon of 11 August 1884."*

 

The new church was completed in the fall of 1885, a gray stone building of mixed Gothic and Romanesque design with a black slate roof. The front of the building faced James Street. Seventy feet wide, it extended back from the street 132 feet. According to the Bulletin of the N.Y. State (Unitarian) Conference the front entrance was “flanked by a high tower with slated cone on one side and castellated sub-tower on the other side.” The Bulletin went on to say: “The auditorium is approached

______________________

*A box of memorabilia sealed into the wall during the ceremony came to light again four generations later and its contents are now in the church archives. As of this writing, the cornerstone itself lies unnoticed behind the present church building.

 

[page 21]

by a spacious octagonal vestibule and side porches, all of which, including auditorium and ceilings, are finished with western cherry lumber, high wainscotings and paneled ceilings. The pews are constructed with cherry, in a crescent form, the floor descending towards the pulpit thirty inches. The rental capacity is 450 sittings, with ample accommodation for 500. The organ and choir are located in a high arched niche over the pulpit."

 

The inside roof and walls were braced with carved wooden trusses and steel rods that stretched across the upper space of the auditorium. Five tall, arched windows in each side wall were eventually filled with stained glass windows, memorials to John Storer and lay men and women who had been devoted church members.* One hundred twelve pews filled the auditorium where center and two side aisles led down to the dais and pulpit. Flanking the dais were panels lettered with Bible verses under the headings "God Is Our Father" and "Christ Is Our Teacher," and below each of these panels was a large fireplace and mantel. Doors on either side led to Sunday school rooms, stairs, a parlor, kitchen, and “other conveniences." In the basement were three furnaces guaranteed to keep the rooms heated to 70 degrees in zero weather. They didn't, and had to be replaced with four others a few years later. When May Memorial Church was finished and furnished, the original cost of $29,000 had grown to nearly $50,000. The deficit was met by a new subscription at the first congregational meeting in the new building and May Memorial proudly announced that, like the Church of the Messiah, it had opened free from debt.

 

The May Memorial Church was dedicated on 20 October 1885. James Dupee of Boston, a relative of John Storer and donor of the first memorial window, delivered a biographical memorial to the society's first minister. Sam May's son Joseph came from his church in Philadelphia to preach the dedication sermon. Also participating was his cousin, Samuel May, Jr. of Leicester, Massachusetts, who had composed a hymn for the occasion. The choir sang, accompanied by the organ, which had been removed from the old building and installed in the new.

 

Music was very important to this congregation. Each year one of the first duties of the trustees was to appoint a music committee, which had more members than any other standing committee. The church women regularly raised money for the music fund, and in 1884 they also gave Mrs. Calthrop a Steinway grand piano with a silver plaque. In the late 1880s the finances faltered again and yearly deficits began to build up, but the congregation would not consent to trim the $1,200 appropriated

______________________

*When the building was sold eighty years later, photographs were taken of the windows. They are kept in the church archives and displayed on the church web site.

 

[page 22]

for the organist and “choir," usually a paid quartet. When the trustees suggested the church might have to close, the organist resigned and volunteers had to supply the music. The next year the congregation voted to raise funds by a special subscription to hire an organist and quartet and to enlarge the organ loft to accommodate a chorus choir.

 

Economic problems beset the whole country in the early 1890s. During the panic of 1893 members of the Unitarian society joined with others in the community to feed the hungry, using city schools as distribution centers. Sam Calthrop stayed in town to coordinate the effort and did not return to Primrose Hill until the crisis was over. The previous year he and his daughters, with the Helping Hand Guild Committee of the church, had started the Newsboys' Evening Home in the Sunday school rooms. Youngsters could come several nights a week for cookies, cocoa, classes, and games. The Boys' Home ran in the church for 10 years until it could move to more appropriate quarters. The organization kept on growing and is now known as the Syracuse Boys' Club.

 

The Women's Alliance and the trustees decided in May 1897 to have a celebration commemorating the one hundredth anniversary of Samuel May's birth. In October the church received a gift from John J. May of Dorchester, Massachusetts, an "artistic medallion of their former beloved pastor." It was hung on the wall where "his noble features can best be seen" and at present writing graces the paneled wall above the fireplace in the church foyer. During the next year the church was thoroughly cleaned and redecorated for the celebration, which was held on the last Sunday of May 1898.

 

At this time two young women of the congregation were preparing for the Unitarian ministry and both were ordained at May Memorial church. The first was Marie H. Jenney, who was ordained in June 1898 and served as co-pastor with Rev. Mary Safford in the Sioux City, Iowa, Unitarian church. Marie Jenney left the ministry in 1904 when she married, although she remained active in woman suffrage and other women's rights movements. The second woman to be ordained at May Memorial was Elizabeth Padgham, who became a Unitarian minister on 17 September 1901 and served for 26 years, first in Iowa and then in New Jersey. When she retired from the ministry she returned to live in Syracuse, contributing much to both the church and the community.

 

Young women at the church were not the only ones overcoming traditions. At the annual meeting in 1901 the congregation started a policy of electing members of the Women's Alliance to the board of trustees. Cornelia I. Bigelow was the first lady trustee, and Mrs. James Barnes was elected to the Board the following year. Thereafter it was customary to have two Alliance members on the board to represent the church women. At that same annual meeting in 1901 Dr. Calthrop

 

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Calthrop

 

Rev. Dr. Samuel R. Calthrop, third minister 1868-1911

 

presented a new registry book to the congregation. This project had been proposed and discussed for a decade. All past members of the congregation were listed in the registry, with their individual signatures if copies were available. Current members were invited to add their signatures, and all new members since then. Long-time members recall that signing the book has not always been expected of new members, but it is today and the same registry book is still being used.

 

For 30 years Dr. Calthrop had preached without notes and his sermons were becoming either too short or too long, because the trustees in 1897 requested that he "prepare sermons of 30 minutes duration." He responded favorably and also suggested the society hire an assistant. They did not have the funds to pay another professional until 1901, when they decided to find an associate minister. Albert W. Clark of Massachusetts was called to the Syracuse pulpit in January 1902 and ordained in a ceremony at May Memorial in October. A news story

 

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unkindly reported that although the congregation liked Mr. Clark, they had voted to have sermons delivered only by Dr. Calthrop.

 

The Sunday school grew under young Clark's leadership. In 1903 Amos Padgham, clerk and treasurer of the Society, recorded an average of 63 pupils and 15 teachers in the Sunday School. According to Padgham's minutes of the annual meeting both the Sunday School and the Women's Alliance contributed to the church treasury, as well as to the support of The Home, a residence for elderly women. They also raised money for an Indian student at Hampton Institute, for the Women's and Children's Hospital, and for the Day Nursery. One of their money raising events was called the Department Store and in 1905 it brought in a record sum of $256.52.

 

The Women's Alliance met monthly, with an extra meeting for the executive committee, a pattern that continued for half a century. Programs included papers prepared by members as well as talks by the minister or invited speakers. In the early 1900 s Harriet May Mills spoke to the group on women's suffrage. According to the Alliance records the women responded to appeals for donations from struggling Unitarian churches in the West and South, sending money, clothing and books. They also worked with city social service agencies such as the orphan's home that received many jars of canned fruit and vegetables from church women every year.

 

In December 1909 three trustees called on Dr. Calthrop, then 80 years old, to discuss church conditions. They reported at the next board meeting that it was mutually agreed the time had come when a younger man should be secured to take up the work of the church, with Dr. Calthrop as pastor emeritus. In January 1911 the Reverend John Henry Applebee, also English by birth but educated in the United States, came to Syracuse from Attleboro, Massachusetts. Dr. Calthrop's $3,600 salary was lowered to $2,500, and Mr. Applebee was paid the same amount, an arrangement that continued until 1917. As pastor emeritus, Dr. Calthrop sat on the dais behind the pulpit and assisted in services.

 

The church was renovated and a new organ installed in a new choir loft at the back of the auditorium. For several years afterward the public was invited to regular organ recitals that were an important part of the church program. A group of church ladies commissioned sculptor Gail Sherman Corbett to make a marble bust of Dr. Calthrop, and two pedestals were ordered. The marble busts of May and Calthrop were placed in the front of the sanctuary where they stood, white against the dark paneling for the next 40 years.

 

At the annual meeting of the congregation in January 1914 Dr. Calthrop, no longer able to sit through a whole evening gave a parting blessing to the assembly and said of Mr. Applebee, "...my good friend is

 

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just making things hum." In his annual report John Applebee explained a social service plan worked out by the city and the churches, in which each congregation assumed partial responsibility for social services in a specific district. He asked the congregation to cooperate "to show our practical religion of the brotherhood of all men." At about this time Applebee wrote in his diary, "I have been here for three years and have just presided over my first communion service. Since 1911 Dr. Calthrop as pastor emeritus has preached once a month and taught a Sunday school class. This January, 1914, he gracefully acquiesced in the opinion of his friends that he should be released from all responsibility and work, owing to the necessary infirmities of age."

 

At the beginning of his fifth year at May Memorial, John Applebee reported to the annual meeting that Sunday school attendance ranged from 70 to 130, the Women's Alliance was strong, the Men's Club in a flourishing condition, and the Samuel R. Calthrop League meeting regularly for play readings, lectures, and other "instruction and profit." John Applebee, who was a slender five feet eight inches, related that on his first visit to Syracuse his host, Samuel Calthrop, had set him to sawing wood, and someone in an aside whispered "he has been sawing wood ever since." With grateful enthusiasm members at the meeting passed several resolutions thanking John and Alice Applebee for their faithful work, warmth, and inspiration" under conditions making any adequate financial recompense impossible." One year later the trustees raised Applebee's salary to $3,000.

 

Samuel Calthrop died in 1917 at the age of 86. Church member Salem Hyde wrote a memorial in which the congregation expressed "... tenderest affection... overwhelming gratitude toward the memory of our pastor and friend, who has given us so much and given it so graciously and with such telling effect on us and on the people of this community." Beside Mr. Applebee at the funeral service were Rev. Frederick Betts of the Universalist church, Rabbi Adolph Guttman of Temple Concord, Dr. Andrew D. White of Cornell, and Rev. Samuel A. Eliot of the American Unitarian Association. Samuel Calthrop was buried in Oakwood Cemetery near the May and Wilkinson family burial plot, with the words of the benediction he had repeated from the pulpit for nearly 46 years:

 

And now may the peace of God that passeth all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in the blessed knowledge that our Father's love is eternal: may that love be ours; our guide through life; our joy in death; and our glory throughout eternity. -- Amen.

 

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100 YEARS AND BEYOND

 

World War I brought Camp Syracuse to the State Fairgrounds and in 1917 May Memorial opened the Army Club for "the entertainment of soldiers under the supervision of men and women of the church." The soldiers could take showers, view movies, and play cards or other games. The congregation also formed a War Council to organize help for service men, and the church women made bandages and collected other supplies. The Applebees went on leave of absence, he to overseas service with the Red Cross and she to social service courses in New York City. Wilton E. Cross, senior student at Meadville Theological School, filled the pulpit while Applebee was away. Mr. Cross was ordained at May Memorial on 17 November 1918.

 

For many years the Unitarian society had a tradition of holding a congregational meeting in October to secure financial support for. the church. In the early years of the society, a pew auction was held in October and a deed of "ownership" was presented to each successful bidder. Later on, church members voted at the October meeting to pay the cost of organist and choir singers recommended by the music committee and, when auctions were abandoned, they used the occasion to arrange their pew rentals for the coming year. By the 1900s the October meetings had become birthday celebrations for Sam Calthrop, and Calthrop birthday dinners continued to be held for years after his death. The Calthrop birthday anniversary dinner of 9 October 1919 was a welcome home celebration for John Applebee, and also the official end of pew rentals. Worried members were assured that no one would interfere with their preferred "sittings," but from then on the society's budget would be raised by an every member canvass that would solicit voluntary contributions from all Unitarians, commensurate with their means.

 

During the years before and after World War I, joint services were held with the Universalists and Temple Concord. Men's groups of the three congregations often met together, and pulpit exchanges were frequent. Every year the church took up collections for special charities like the Onondaga Orphan's Home. The Women's Alliance gave Christmas parties for children of nearby schools. Community service was both an ideal and a duty for these Unitarians, as it was for many other Syracusans. The histories of organizations like Huntington Foundation, Dunbar Center, Planned Parenthood, and the Everson Museum contain founders and leaders who were also prominent in the history of May Memorial.

 

The women of the church were traditionally represented by two females on the Board of Trustees, but in 1918 Mrs. F. R. Hazard was elected a third woman trustee. In nominating her at the congregation's

 

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annual meeting, George Cheney noted that it was a departure from precedent, but "the world turns and we have come upon a new time. Woman suffrage has triumphantly carried the State of New York, and it seemed fitting to mark the event by adding another lady to our board of trustees. Besides, Mrs. Hazard was very much wanted in this position." Dora Sedgwick Hazard had organized the central New York area for the National Women's Party, but she did not stop organizing after suffrage was won. In 1920 she and her sister Kitty Burlingame worked with black community leaders Charles Whitfield, Mrs. W. H. Carter, and Lyndon Caldwell to organize a youth recreation program at the AME Zion Church. Syracuse University students from the Paul Lawrence Dunbar Society, a literary club, helped run the program and the Commonweal Club helped fund it. Eventually incorporated as Dunbar Center, the agency they founded is still a strong force in the Syracuse community.

 

The turmoil and social changes of the 1920s are only vaguely reflected in the church records. At a time when evangelist Billy Sunday was attracting hundreds to the traditional Protestant churches, the Unitarians, who had bought a movie projector for the Army Club, invited the public to weekly movie shows. In 1923 the congregation sponsored a week-long mission service that featured a visiting Unitarian minister. At least one family we know joined May Memorial in reaction to Billy Sunday and that was Joyce Ball's family, the DeLines. In 1922 attendance at May Memorial averaged about 130 and there were 43 children and seven teachers in the Sunday school. The church school director was Elizabeth Lewis who became one of the first members to receive the Annual Award when it was started in the mid-1950s. Our records describe a church meeting in 1925 when the congregation discussed reviving the communion ceremony, which had not been held “for some time," as part of the Easter service. Implementation was turned over to the trustees who decided on a simple memorial communion service to be held on Palm Sunday. Our older members can remember communion held in the church on some occasions after that, but the practice had disappeared by the 1950s.

 

Once again in the late 1920s the church was faced with dwindling membership and a beloved elderly minister who no longer filled the pews on Sunday. Dr. Applebee (DD Meadville, 1924) twice offered to resign, but the congregation was very fond of their saintly pastor. They voted to keep him as minister and hired a part-time secretary to assist him with writing and mailing the church newsletter from his home on Maryland Avenue. In the spring of 1929 he officially retired, staying on as an active member until he died in 1936, the last of the old-time ministers who settled down for a life of service in one community.

 

Rev. Evans A. Worthley was interim minister until the congregation,

 

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applebee3               argow5

 

Rev. Dr. John H. Applebee, 1911-1929   Rev. Dr. W. W. W. Argow, 1930-1941

 

called a dynamic new minister, W. W. W. Argow, a former Baptist who became a pacifist and joined the Unitarian denomination. He came to Syracuse from the People's Unitarian Church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. A fifth generation minister, the three Ws in his name stood for Wendelin, father of transcendental philosophy, Waldemar, bishop of West Goths, and Weiland, father of spiritualistic or idealistic poetry. Waldemar Argow was installed at May Memorial in October 1930, and things began to hum again. He was an eloquent speaker, noted for his poetic style. His sermons were broadcast over WFBL and later WSYR every month. The trustees started a new member campaign, and 57 people joined the congregation in the next two years. The church school grew and a religious education council was organized to run the program. Women's and men's groups became large and active. There were junior and senior young people's clubs and a lively student group at Hendricks Chapel of Syracuse University. Dr. Applebee's mimeograph and addressograph were removed from his home to the church, which now had a paid office assistant.

 

In spite of all this activity, the church finances were precarious, with deficits depleting reserves and Dr. Argow turning back part of his salary every year. The church tried to help with the problems of the Great Depression by opening its Sunday school space as a reading room for unemployed people who were walking the streets. An average of 75 men used the reading room every day it was open during 1931 and 1932. Alliance women sewed and gave clothing to jobless families.

 

To raise money for the church budget the Laymen's League sponsored lectures by the famous minister John Haynes Holmes. The Women's Alliance presented a Pageant of Shawls with a program of ethnic dancing

 

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at the art museum. They also sponsored plays for children put on by the Clare Tree Major road company, and held garden parties at the home of Judge and Mrs. Hiscock on James Street. Thanks to bequests, the congregation managed to renovate the Sunday school rooms to accommodate more children and put in a new church parlor, with a memorial plaque for Alice Applebee who had died in 1924.

 

The big event of the decade was the one hundredth anniversary of the society celebrated by a week of activities in October 1938. Centennial events started with the Sunday service on 16 October led by Dr. Argow who spoke about the "Challenge of an Inheritance." He was assisted by church member Rev. Elizabeth Padgham, now retired and living in Syracuse, who read from "The True Church" by Theodore Parker. Congregational president Frank Hiscock, Chief Justice of the New York State Appellate Court, led the rededication litany. The Women's Alliance distributed a historical booklet titled" A Backward Glance O'er Traveled Roads" written by members Helen Saddington and Elizabeth Walsh. Moderator of the American Unitarian Association Sanford Bates spoke on religion and social concerns at the church on Tuesday. President of the AUA Frederick May Eliot discussed the worldwide function of liberal religion at the centennial banquet held at Drumlins on Thursday. At the dinner, Rev. Ellsworth Reamon, minister at the Universalist Church and president of the Syracuse Council of Churches, gave the invocation, May Memorial member James G. Tracy presented a pictorial history of the church, and Rabbi Benjamin Friedman of Temple Concord gave the benediction.

 

In December 1939 May Memorial invited the congregation of Temple Concord to participate in a joint Chanukah/Christmas service. Rabbi Friedman read the Christian prayer and benediction and Dr. Argow responded with the Jewish prayer and benediction. Both men delivered short sermons, the Temple children's choir presented the Chanukah with Rabbi Friedman, and combined adult choirs sang traditional music. Both congregations believed this was probably the first such service ever to be celebrated.

 

Dr. Elizabeth Manwell, a teacher of child development at Syracuse University, became director of religious education at May Memorial in 1935, continuing in the work until 1949. Under her administration the church school prospered and became a model in the denomination. During the 1940s visitors from the AUA reported to Beacon Street headquarters that at May Memorial they saw what was probably the best church school in the country. The strength of the program came partly from a cooperative relationship between the Women's Alliance and the church school. Manwell led a workshop on this for the national denominational convention. She also gave workshops at RE conferences and Unitarian summer camps. Elizabeth Manwell was a popular lecturer

 

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and author of several books, some in collaboration with Sophia Lyon Fahs, a well-known Unitarian writer and educator. Manwell's book "Consider the Children, How They Grow" was an important addition to parent education and won an honorable mention from Parents Magazine in 1940.

 

Dr. Reginald Manwell, Elizabeth's husband and Professor of Zoology at Syracuse University, wrote the Beacon Curriculum text "The Church Across the Street," based on his church school classes that studied other religious groups and visited many different congregations in the city. A scrapbook kept by the class is in the church archives.

 

In October 1940 the congregation bought the home of the Van Duyn family who had lived next door. The building was of special interest to Unitarians because it had housed the first family relations clinic, a precursor of Planned Parenthood and a controversial facility that many church members supported. A woman most instrumental in the success of the clinic was Sarah Hazard Knapp, daughter of Dora Hazard and mother of our long-time member, Sarah Auchincloss. The asking price of $5,000 was paid in cash thanks to a legacy left by Anna Agan Chase. Volunteers raised money, remodeled, redecorated, and the church school moved into the parish house soon after the New Year. Dr. Argow called the congregation together on 16 February 1941 to dedicate "the castle of our dreams." Following the dedication ceremony in the parish house parlor was a farewell reception for Waldemar and Elsie Argow. The congregation regretfully accepted Dr. Argow's resignation in January so he could take a position as minister of the historic Unitarian church in Baltimore. Dr. Henry Wilder Foote of Boston served as interim minister until a new one could be called.

 

The 1940s challenged the social consciences of religious liberals more than any time since the Civil War. During the next dozen years, two ministers came and went at May Memorial. Both were youthful and conscientious men who ultimately felt a call to duty more challenging than the needs of a comfortable, middle-class congregation. The majority of Unitarians at May Memorial seemed very conservative to liberal clergymen, although the members themselves considered their church a bastion of liberalism in a conservative community.

 

Rev. Robert Eldon Romig came to the pulpit at May Memorial in the summer of 1941. Because of the wartime housing shortage Bob and Ellen Romig could not find a suitable home, and the church bought a parsonage for them, a large colonial house on Comstock Avenue near the university. There the Romigs could entertain students interested in liberal religion and build up the campus organization that had been started by Waldemar Argow. In 1943 Romig wrote to the AUA Department of Ministry that the church was in excellent shape, financially in the black for the first time in years. The 1943-1944 budget was oversubscribed, and average attendance that year was 121, up from

 

[page 31]

 

manwell

 

Dr. Elizabeth Manwell

      DRE 1936-1949

 

96 the year before. In 1944 Romig worked for the United War Fund, organizing five New York State counties to raise money for 23 war service agencies including the USO, War Prisoners' Aid, Seamen's Service and a number of foreign relief agencies. In 1945 he received a Certificate of Merit awarded annually by Temple Adath Yeshurun for promoting interfaith goodwill. He resigned his ministry in the spring of 1946 stating that he wished to work for American acceptance of the United Nations and extension of that organization to a world government. Later he settled in Syracuse to help run a family business. Romig was the first president of the United Nations Association of Syracuse when it started in the 1950s, enlisting the support of many business leaders for the association. Elizabeth Manwell spearheaded the organization of the UNA, and for many years issued its newsletter. Romig remained active in May Memorial until he died in the fall of 1986.                                     

 

In spite of the pacifist sympathies of its ministers and some members, most of the young men who grew up at May Memorial went into the service when the United States entered World War II, and many of them were killed. The honor roll for both world wars is preserved in the church archives. The women of the congregation concentrated their war efforts in two directions, sewing for refugees, and serving lunches to school children whose mothers were working full-time. In 1943 Alice Southwick and Dorothy Wertheimer organized volunteer women from the church, the neighborhood, and the university. Each volunteer came in one day a week to help cook and serve lunch to the children. The project grew to involve about 70 volunteers a week serving from 50 to 60 lunches daily. By the end of June 1945 the women had served 8,500 lunches! When the war ended, the women turned to collecting and packing food and clothing for European relief. In December 1945 they shipped 118 boxes of food and in 1947 a similar number of boxes of clothing was packed and sent to Europe for distribution by the Unitarian Service Committee (USC). The clothing was sewed or collected and mended by Women's Alliance members, packed and shipped with the help of men's and youth groups. In 1948 and 1949, according to newspaper reports, May Memorial was second in the whole denomination in total pounds of clothing sent for European relief through USC.

 

Rev. Glenn Owen Canfield came to May Memorial in the fall of 1946,

 

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jamesstchurch1

May Memorial Church, 472 James Street,

1884-1964

jamesstchurch2

May Memorial Parish House, 466 James Street,

1940-1964

(next door to church connected by a corridor)

[page 33]

determined to open the congregation to more liberal ideas. He had become a Unitarian in 1943 after ten years as a Presbyterian minister in the midwest. During his Syracuse ministry he was active in the NAACP. Although no black people joined the society, there was a joint meeting with the NAACP and a worship service with the Bethany Fellowship. Black speakers appeared at forums and the youth held interracial meetings. Glenn Canfield chaired a Council of Churches housing committee to improve living conditions for black residents.

 

When Elizabeth Manwell retired in 1949 the congregation celebrated her work at May Memorial and throughout the denomination with a dinner. At the same time they welcomed Josephine Gould as the new director of the church school to which she had contributed much knowledge and experience over the years. She was already well known for her work and publications in the religious education field.

 

Church membership was increasing. Canfield attracted a strong young

 

[page 34]

 

romig3        canfield3

 

Rev. Robert E. Romig, 1941-1946           Rev. Glenn O. Canfield, 1946-1952

 

adult group though his campus ministry and, with the help of newspaper ads inviting the public to "come and think," membership at May Memorial increased to 400, the largest in its history.

 

In September 1951 the congregation held a dinner to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Elizabeth Padgham's ordination. Glenn Canfield spoke of the service she gave to her home church during her retirement. In the fall of 1952 Glenn Canfield and his wife Ellen left Syracuse to go to Atlanta, where the Unitarian church had split over the issue of accepting black members. The Canfields helped start the United Liberal Church in Atlanta, the first interracial congregation in that southern city.

 

With its large, active congregation and its excellent church school program, May Memorial was one of the strongest churches in the denomination. At least one denominational official warned of a conservative bloc in the congregation. "The minister who goes there will have to trim his sails considerably and with some strategy may be able to keep the liberal gains that Glenn Canfield has made," wrote Dale DeWitt of AUA. He praised the "splendid people" in the church even as he expressed doubt that a social emphasis program could be achieved at May Memorial. The pulpit committee soon presented two excellent candidates who visited the society to give candidating sermons. In a congregational meeting the members voted to call the one recommended by the pulpit committee. It was a close vote, which left the winner with some disappointed parishioners to win over, although he received a unanimous vote of confidence once the election was official. The congregation had chosen the Reverend Robert L. Zoerheide from Peterborough, Vermont to be their new minister. In March 1952 Bob and Jean Zoerheide and their four children moved into the Unitarian parsonage at 913 Comstock Avenue.

 

[page 35]

GROWTH, FORM, MOVEMENT

 

When Bob Zoerheide came to May Memorial, no one foresaw the tremendous changes that would accompany his ministry. He was a tall, youthful man with a quietly deliberate manner. Theology and personal religion were important themes of his sermons. He spoke about individualism, variations in Unitarian thought, Biblical scholarship, the Dead Sea Scrolls and the new philosophy of existentialism. He did not neglect social problems. He served on the board of NAACP, he supported civil rights and housing, but the closest he came to activism was to speak out on church-state issues such as religious instruction in schools and loyalty oaths for teachers and other public employees.

 

Almost as soon as he arrived, Bob Zoerheide found himself drawn into a controversy regarding the Council of Churches. The Syracuse Council of Churches had been formed by the Protestant Christian churches, including the Unitarians and Universalists, in 1931. Both the Unitarian and Universalist ministers had been active in the council ever since, serving as officers and board members of the organization. May Memorial trustees annually appointed lay members to serve on boards and committees of the council. When the National Council of Churches reorganized in 1945, it required member congregations to declare acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, but the local council did not adopt the statement as a membership test.

 

Gradually, before and during the war years, the majority of Unitarians let go their traditional ties to Christianity in favor of a commitment to broader religious values. By the time Bob Zoerheide arrived here at the height of the McCarthy era, when "liberal" was a popular euphemism for "communist," many traditional Christians were becoming very uneasy with their liberal religious brethren. Because of the Christian emphasis, some members of May Memorial pushed for the congregation to dissociate itself from the Syracuse Council of Churches. This attitude grew stronger when the majority of the Protestant churches sponsored a campaign in Syracuse by evangelist Billy Graham. A motion to withdraw from the council was debated at a congregational meeting in June 1952. Elizabeth Manwell and Carlyle Ashley represented May Memorial on the Council of Churches and they were joined by others who wanted to stay in the council. Bob Zoerheide argued that it was not the council but the individual churches that were promoting the Graham crusade. The motion failed to pass by a vote of 31 to 21.

 

It was not a good time to break with the Protestant community. During those midcentury years a struggle was going on about state aid to parochial schools and released time in the public schools for the purpose

 

[page 36]

of religious instruction. These programs were considered violations of the constitutional principle of the separation of church and state, and the AUA had protested against them through resolutions passed by delegates at the denominational May Meetings. Unitarians and Universalists in Syracuse were concerned because their children were among the few (sometimes the only) children in a whole class who did not leave school for released time religious instruction. The Protestant churches were divided on the question. Unitarian parents who opposed released time legislation found valuable allies among some of their Protestant neighbors. The congregation stayed in the Council of Churches until their hand was forced by the council itself. In 1959 the Syracuse Council of Churches adopted a test for membership requiring belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. At the annual meeting in May 1959 the congregation voted to withdraw from the council, and the next Sunday Bob Zoerheide preached a sermon "Protestantism at the Crossroads" in which he called for a Syracuse Council of Religious Liberals with no theological test for membership.

 

Plans for a liberal religious coalition in Syracuse apparently were sidetracked by preparations for the coming Universalist-Unitarian merger meetings. In 1953 the AUA and the Universalist Association had combined their publishing and publicity efforts and requested individual congregations to study and discuss the report of a Union Commission. A majority of congregations, including May Memorial, approved the Commission recommendation, and a national Joint Merger Commission drew up detailed plans and a proposed constitution. Each local congregation was asked to study and discuss the merger proposals in preparation for a final merger negotiation. At a congregational meeting in April 1959, Dr. Warren Walsh, Chairman of Russian Studies at Syracuse University, argued against the merger and Elizabeth Manwell argued for it. The congregation voted 38 in favor of merger and 78 against. In October, after the Laymen's League and the Women's Alliance had studied the proposal and Mr. Zoerheide had given a sermon on the subject, the vote was reversed. A motion in favor of merger passed by a vote of 89 to 12.

 

Syracuse, with strong and active churches in both denominations, was a good place to hold the final merger conference. In November 1959 a General Conference of the American Unitarian Association was held at the Hotel Syracuse, while the National Conference of the Universalist Church of America met at the Universalist church. Robert Romig was General Chairman of the Joint Biennial Committee in charge of arrangements. Rev. Ellsworth Reamon of First Universalist and Bob Zoerheide were honorary co-chairmen. John Chamberlin and Dorothy Wertheimer helped recruit and organize May Memorial members to

 

[page 37]

 

zoerheide4

 

Rev. Robert L. Zoerheide

Minister from 1952 to 1961

 

work on arrangements and hospitality. The Hotel Syracuse staff was cooperative but confused. They are said to have directed arriving Unitarian delegates to a meeting of "Ukrainians" on the tenth floor. Telephone communication kept each conference informed about the other's deliberations as the two groups considered separately the Commission recommendations.

 

Of course there were difficulties. Rev. Max Kapp, Dean of St. Lawrence Theological School, quipped that the Universalists were afraid of being swallowed by the larger Unitarian denomination, while the Unitarians feared they would get indigestion. When the two groups were near agreement they met in joint sessions at the Syracuse War Memorial auditorium to discuss and vote on identical recommendations. They argued about whether to include the name "Jesus" and other "great prophets," and finally resolved the issue by leaving out names and referring to the "Judeo-Christian heritage." Delegates voted to combine the national organizations of the two denominations into one that would be called the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). They proposed a constitution that would be approved by both denominations at their last national conventions in 1960.

 

Credit for the success of the merger meetings was largely due to the friendly manner and parliamentary skills of moderator Ralph Kharas, a member of May Memorial and Dean of Syracuse University Law School. After the conference, he is said to have confided to friends, "I wasn't always exactly sure of the proper ruling, but I made quick decisions and when I banged the gavel no one objected."

 

The merger in no way affected the independence of individual congregations, who were left to decide for themselves whether they wanted to change their names or join with others. Congregations all over the country were asked to approve the merger plan before it could be implemented. In January the congregation at May Memorial voted for it 85 to 1. Relations between May Memorial and the Syracuse Universalist church remained cordial and each congregation continued on its traditional way after the denominations united.

 

[page 38]

The May Memorial tradition of offering use of the church building to community groups helped start several local institutions. One of them was the Frank C. McCarthy School for handicapped children. At the suggestion of Sarah Auchincloss, the trustees investigated the possibility of inviting the newly formed group of families with retarded children to hold classes in the parish house. The congregation had built a corridor joining the rear of the church to the parish house in 1951, and a few months later had finished a modern, enlarged kindergarten room. In January 1953 the school accepted the trustees' offer to use the room for nursery school training of retarded children and their families. A few adaptations, like installing doorknobs too high for children's hands, had to be made. The school stayed until the spring of 1954 when they moved into rooms at Lyncourt School that were better suited to their program. Jean Zoerheide described the multiple use of the church school space in an article published in Christian Register, and the story was later written up in Redbook Magazine as a community service project.

 

The hard times of the thirties and the grim years of war and refugees were gone, but the society had a new problem, overcrowding. Young suburban families filled the two buildings every Sunday and their automobiles lined both sides of the surrounding streets. The church school exceeded its capacity with 180 pupils and more came every year. The church rented rooms in the Museum of Fine Arts across the street for Sunday school classes. Jo Gould, Director of Religious Education, struggled with her conscience over limiting enrollment in the school to children of parents who were active in the congregation. The need for more space dominated the RE Council deliberations, filled the trustees' agenda, and was often discussed at Laymen's League and Women's Alliance meetings. Trustees searched for ways to expand. The church property was too small to add much to the buildings and none of the surrounding property owners would sell. A fire inspection revealed serious safety violations in both buildings and appraisers advised that renovations would not be worth the investment. A major bequest from the will of Elizabeth Padgham, who died in 1953, encouraged the trustees to consider building at a new location. To the consternation of some older members, the congregation voted to relocate.

 

The trustees launched an expansion fund drive in October 1956 and appointed a site committee that scoured the city for suitable property without success. At the trustees meeting in December they were tired and ready to abandon the idea of moving, but Bob Zoerheide persuaded them to reorganize their committees and keep on looking. In March 1957 the congregation reaffirmed the decision to relocate by a vote of 107 to 10 and authorized the board of trustees to take any action necessary to implement it. Several months later the site committee found the property

 

[page 39]

they were looking for and the congregation passed a motion to buy it. With the acquisition of land at the corner of East Genesee Street and Dewitt Road in the fall of 1957, the congregation took the first big step toward relocation.

 

Disappointments dogged the relocation process. Sale of the James Street property was essential before the congregation would have the resources to build a new church. Several prospective buyers showed interest and then backed off. The trustees might have given up if the congregation had not kept on getting larger. In 1959, 250 children were enrolled in the church school, in 1960 it was 270. To cover all possible eventualities, the trustees set up a committee to investigate renovations and/or costs to tear down the parish house and build a larger one. At the same time the relocation committee researched architects. The congregation voted to accept an architect, but could not raise enough in capital fund pledges to pay for the building he designed.

 

At the annual meeting in June 1960 Bob Zoerheide described an informal survey of U-U churches that placed May Memorial near the top nationally in overall membership, size and excellence of church school, budget, and support of the denomination. During his ministry membership had grown to more than 500, and the annual budget had grown from $14,000 to $34,000. There were three active youth groups in the church, a part-time paid youth director and a large campus club of Unitarian youth who met several times a month at Hendricks Chapel. A program council of representatives from all congregational groups met regularly to coordinate church activities and report to the trustees. An active membership committee greeted visitors and planned meetings and social events for interested newcomers. The trustees accepted the names of new people into membership by formal action at board meetings, and new members kept coming.

 

Such a vital congregation could not allow itself to be discouraged. In the fall of 1960 the board of trustees under president John Chamberlin started a new capital fund drive and appointed three new committees to develop alternative plans for the future: long range, staying at James Street, and building on East Genesee. In January 1961 Bob Zoerheide announced he had accepted a call to Cedar Lane Church in Montgomery County, Maryland, and the trustees had to add a pulpit committee to the church organization. In one of his last sermons in Syracuse, Mr. Zoerheide foreshadowed the revolutionary changes of the 1960s. He described the placid face of society as it appeared in 1961 and urged an increased acceptance of individual eccentricity to stir things up.

 

Besides the increased membership, the church had changed in other ways during Bob Zoerheide's ministry. An all-volunteer choir had replaced the paid quartet; young parents could bring their infants and

 

[page 40]

toddlers for child care while they participated in adult activities or taught in the church school; and the life-size marble patriarchs that had flanked the pulpit for so long were moved first to the vestibule, and then out of sight entirely to a history room in the small front tower. Most importantly, the society had a new site and a good start on a building fund, although they still had no architect.

 

Another congregational vote in April 1961 reaffirmed the members' determination to relocate. They voted 145 to 95 to build at 3800 East Genesee. Fortunately the congregation had a member who not only wanted to build a new church, but also had the knowledge, experience, ability, and tenacity to organize such a monumental project. Henry Mertens had joined May Memorial only three years before, bringing with him an understanding of the organization and procedure needed for May Memorial to accomplish its goals. Shortly after accepting appointment as chair of the Building Administration Committee, Mertens presented the trustees with a calendar of target dates for selection of a new architect, approval of preliminary plans, and moving into a finished building. Along with these proposals his committee recommended activities to involve all interested members of the congregation every step of the way.

 

At the same time, the pulpit committee had been looking for a minister. At a congregational meeting in June 1961 members voted unanimously to call the Reverend John Channing Fuller from Orlando, Florida to be the next minister of May Memorial.

 

John and Betsy Fuller settled in Syracuse with their three children at the end of summer. John Fuller fitted the society's tradition very well. He was a New Englander, related to our first minister John Storer and also, as his middle name suggests, to William Ellery Channing, one of the founders of the Unitarian movement. Fuller was an eloquent speaker with a passion for social justice. He came at the prime of life, in his early forties, bringing experience with a congregation that had successfully completed a new building. Under his leadership the pace of congregational activity increased. Eighty members became involved in one way or another with the new building plans, working on 11 different committees. They interviewed 14 architects. and eventually hired Pederson, Hueber and Hares, a Syracuse firm that contracted to work with the eminent architect Dean Pietro Belluschi of MIT as design consultant. After numerous committee sessions and six congregational meetings, the committees prepared 16 pages of background data and information for the architect, including a request for the use of natural materials and simplicity of design. They said the congregation required a feeling of space, inviting spiritual reaching out and growth. "The creative principle of organic evolution, of form evolving from inner necessity,

 

[page 41]

growth, and movement, is fundamental to Unitarian belief." They asked for architecture marked by beauty, dignity, serenity, strength, stimulation, and challenge. And they engaged the best acoustical consultant and most expert organ builder available.

 

At the annual meeting in 1963 the treasurer announced a new high in annual income, $51,000. Henry Mertens reported that the final building plans would be let out for bids that summer. In September the congregation voted 100 to 10 to hire Kosoff Construction Company and construction started a few weeks later. Although sale of the James Street property was still nowhere in sight, the congregation did not lose momentum. The Women's Alliance planned and put on a May Fair that raised $3,000 for furnishing the new building.

 

Building plans were not the only congregational concerns. More families were joining and the church school registered 300 children in 1962 and 1963. Bob Burdick organized a group of parents to keep a fire watch patrol in the parish house during church school sessions because the building was considered unsafe. A special donation funding Sunday morning care for infants and toddlers ran out and a decision had to be made whether to continue it. Elizabeth Manwell and Jo Gould opposed having the young parents' cooperative babyfold because they believed nursery care was detrimental for children under the age of three. The trustees studied the question and decided to support the babyfold separately from the church school.

 

Meanwhile John Fuller was not neglecting the social problems of Syracuse. His first sermon as minister in the James Street pulpit had been titled "The Liberalism That Endures." Speaking with the new voice of the 1960s he said, "Liberalism gives people direction and character. Time and the world await this daring independence. We need to step out of line, to stir up our culture and excite the world around us…This day I rededicate May Memorial church, the pulpit, and myself to that basic faith and to that liberalism which dares a great independence of thought, emotion, and action."

 

Standing in the carved mahogany pulpit above one side of the dais, John Fuller could look down through a decorative ironwork grill in the floor into the furnace in the basement below. In the winter time he joked that he only had to lean over to see the fires of hell. He did not need this view to remind him to address the "burning issues" of the day. In addition to his own interests in liberal causes, activist members of the congregation were enthusiastic supporters of black protests against urban renewal programs in the center of Syracuse that were tearing down old tenements and displacing poor black families. Blacks and whites obstructing the demolition were arrested, and John Fuller upheld their actions in the pulpit and in the church newsletter. In an attempt to

 

[page 42]

counter discrimination that made it difficult for displaced black families to find affordable housing in other parts of the city, John Fuller and Elizabeth Manwell formed a May Memorial committee that worked with other organizations helping displaced families find housing. These developments disturbed church members who felt the proper concern of the Unitarian Society was basic moral and philosophical discussion, with social action to be left to the discretion of each individual, not to involve the congregation as a whole. This was not a new conflict, only new to the generation that encountered it for the first time.

 

When a new Public Affairs Committee formed, the trustees monitored it carefully, requiring it to report to the board before taking any public action. The board allowed the committee to organize a community-wide forum on discrimination in housing and to lobby City Hall for practical measures to increase low-income housing. After several informational meetings, six resolutions urging the Syracuse Housing Authority and the city administration to take action were presented to a formal meeting of the society for a vote in March 1965. They were passed by standing vote and for the first time the congregation itself spoke out publicly on a social issue.

 

In 1965 the committee issued an informative study, "Scattered Site Public Housing for Syracuse," which recommended eight measures for local action. A number of other organizations cooperated with the committee, including the Catholic Interracial Council, the Syracuse Committee on Racial Equality, the Syracuse Area Council of Churches, and the League of Women Voters. Members of several other congregations including Grace Episcopal Church and Temple Concord also worked on the study, and Dr. Charles V. Willie, a black sociology professor, served as consultant. The findings in the study were also used by other civic groups seeking to increase the number of homes and apartments for poor families.

 

During these years the Sunday morning forum was a regular and popular part of the church program that was ready-made for presenting public issues to the congregation. Church school started at 10 AM. After dropping off the children, parents and other adults socialized over coffee in the dining room and/or gathered in the church parlor to listen to a speaker and discuss his ideas before the Sunday service started at eleven o’clock. The forum had been started in 1930 by Professor William Yerington of Syracuse University. In 1960 he was unable to continue leading the forum and other members took on the responsibility of scheduling speakers. One of the issues they discussed was the high cost of funerals and the growing movement for simple memorial ceremonies focused on the life of the deceased rather than on the embalmed remains. With the blessing of the trustees a group of members in 1964 formed the

 

[page 43]

Syracuse Memorial Society, a nonprofit organization that assists its members to make reasonably priced arrangements before they die. Henry Schmitz presided over the group for a decade.

 

In the winter of 1964 the new building was going well, but there was unrest in the congregation. Because of the capital fund drive there had been no regular canvass for three years, and canvassers in the fall of 1963 had found a lack of enthusiasm for new pledges. President Warren Walsh complained of fragmentation within the society, church school attendance was dropping and in January John Fuller was hospitalized for exhaustion. This was the first outward sign of the heart ailment that was to plague him for the next ten years until his untimely death in 1974. Besides his work as minister of a large congregation he worked on three committees for the UUA and several local community boards and committees. After several weeks' leave he started back to work gradually and in May he returned to a regular 5˝ day work week, without so much committee responsibility.

 

The new building was to be ready in the fall of 1964 at a total cost of $446,391. To meet this cost the society borrowed $180,000 to be repaid over 30 years with mortgage payments totaling nearly $12,000 a year. At the annual meeting in the spring of 1964, despite the net loss of 20 members during the past year, the finance committee reported another record amount in pledges, $52,000. In September a $75,000 offer for the James Street property was accepted, just in time to pay for furnishings and equipment needed to open the new building.

 

On Sunday, 21 September 1964, members and friends gathered to say good-by to the May Memorial Church on James Street. People who had grown up in the Society came back to sit for the last time in pews their families had "owned" years before. Elizabeth Manwell gave a moving personal reminiscence and tribute to the old building and the people who had worked and worshipped in it for the 34 years she had been there. She explained that she had become reconciled to relocating because she realized the walls are not the church any more than the window frame is the view or the silver candlestick the flame. And she knew that John Fuller would never let the congregation become so comfortable in their new setting that they would forget the problems of the inner city.

 

[page 44]

MAY MEMORIAL UNITARIAN SOCIETY

 

Saturday and Sunday, 28 and 29 September 1964 were moving days for May Memorial, with no services scheduled. Committees inventoried the furnishings at James Street, selecting those to be moved to the new building and selling off things that were left behind. Volunteers painted the new church school rooms, stacked dishes and flatware in the new kitchen, and arranged Elizabeth Padgham's legacy of oriental rugs and Victorian furniture in the new memorial parlor. On Sunday, 4 October 1964, the congregation held the first service beneath the soaring wooden arches of the new auditorium. They sat in rented chairs until the new pews could be installed. The huge old Steinway piano that had come from the Calthrop family was set up in the choir loft to accompany the singing until the new organ was in place.

 

The architects and builders did their work well. There is an openness and serenity about the wide auditorium that invites members of the audience to look toward each other as well as toward the speaker in front. There is no pulpit, only a simple, movable lectern of wrought iron and wood designed by artist Dorothy Riester. Instead of a dais, there is a wide stage three steps above the auditorium floor. At the back of the stage a fourth step leads up to the backdrop, a wooden partition with a long shelf for decorating. The warm glow of the natural stained cedar walls is set off by dark crossbeams at regular intervals. On either side of the platform massive demiarches carry the eye upward, past the clear glass windows above the walls, up to the cedar paneled ceiling and the square cupola centered atop the gently sloping roof. On sunny mornings the dark wood behind the minister is lighted by an image like a butterfly (or an angel?) shining down from the cupola and moving gradually down the wall and across the floor as the earth turns toward the sun.

 

With his first sermon in the new building, John Fuller set the relocation in the context of liberal religion. It was not the inadequacy of the old building alone that moved us, he said, but "an urge, a restlessness to bear witness to our own time and to the vision of what we seek to be and to become... this is the essence of liberal religion -- to fashion our own world, our own insights, our own manifestations of truth and beauty and goodness."

 

In this spirit of fashioning their own society, members gathered after the service the next Sunday to discuss whether the name May Memorial should be kept or discarded. Many of them knew little or nothing about Samuel Joseph May and they associated the name with the stone towers at 472 James Street, not the simple lines of the building at 3800 East Genesee. During the discussion that morning they learned that the name had nothing to do with the appearance of the building, but everything to

 

[page 45]

 

bldg2

 

May Memorial Unitarian Society, 3800 East Genesee Street. Build in 1964.

 

do with the spirit and purpose of the congregation that occupied it. When they heard about May's concern for the rights of blacks and women and the right of all children to a good education, many felt that his agenda was completely appropriate for the 1960 s. But they did not have time to reach a formal consensus. One of the speakers at the forum was Elizabeth Manwell who had come to take part even though she knew that her heart disease was becoming critical. A few minutes after making a passionate plea for keeping May's name and carrying on his work, she sighed and collapsed in the lap of long-time member Mary Cooper, whose great uncle James Bagg had first suggested the name May Memorial Church. Immediate attention from doctors present could not save Elizabeth and she was dead on arrival at the hospital. The meeting ended abruptly and the fitness of the name May Memorial has not been questioned since. At that time the legal name of the corporation was still Unitarian Congregational Society, but in 1968 it was officially changed to May Memorial Unitarian Society.

 

The name "May" has another significance for long-time members because of the years that May Slagle served as church secretary. In the minds of many church school children who heard their parents mention May Slagle, she, not the minister from 100 years ago, was the source of the church name. Mrs. Slagle had been one of the most active volunteers in the school lunch program during World War II, and her joy in cooking for children was renewed every year at the Easter breakfast she prepared for the children who came to rehearse the Easter pageant. As the school became larger and the Easter pageant was dropped, she invited only the first and second graders to breakfast. They put on stiff paper rabbit ears with pink linings, ate scrambled eggs and played games in the church dining room on the Saturday before Easter. In the eyes of most adult members, May Slagle was the indispensable office manager. She had

 

[page 46]

been a part of the church for many years, as editor of the newsletter with Mr. Canfield and office secretary with Bob Zoerheide. After the move to the new building she worked as minister's secretary, parish assistant and hostess in charge of building security until she retired in 1974. Another strong member/employee who kept the society functioning was treasurer Alice Jordan. She started working as assistant treasurer in the mid-1930s. A small, quiet, friendly person, she kept the books in order until her death in 1970.

 

All the staff and most of the congregation settled joyfully into the new building, but the move brought many other changes. For the first time in the history of this congregation a woman, Verah Johnson, was elected president at the annual meeting in the spring of 1965. When church reopened in September the long- standing 11 o'clock time for the Sunday service was changed. Both church school and adult service started at 10:30, with coffee hour after the service. Church school was shortened to one and one-half hours, from 10:30 to 12:00. Overcrowding was still a problem even in the new building, with more than 300 children enrolled and 200 or more attending every Sunday. The adult membership was changing remarkably. Old members were dropping out or resigning, while many newcomers were joining and total membership remained well over 500.

 

The formal dedication of the new building was held on Sunday, 10 October 1965. A reaffirmation service in the morning symbolized the building process. Design architect Dean Pietro Belluschi, who flew in from Boston for the occasion, handed the plans to building chairman Henry Mertens, to the accompaniment of a standing ovation from the audience. Organ builder Walter Holtkamp was also recognized. After the service George Abbott and Bill McLennan formally opened the cornerstone from 472 James Street, which contained newspapers from 1884, plans for the building, and a silver dollar. In the afternoon Arthur Poister, an eminent organist and professor at Syracuse University, gave a Bach concert on the brilliant new Holtkamp organ. John Fuller's sermon dedicated the building to "the truth that makes men free...the spirit of liberty...brotherhood...ongoing works of love...peace...the worship of God and the service of man." He said, "Let this hall be the sanctuary of every seeking, questing soul, and let this house forever have an open door to all truth and all men."

 

In spite of a large membership and active congregation, the trustees in charge of the church finances were troubled. Mortgage payments amounting to nearly one fourth of the church budget were a tremendous burden and the church was facing larger deficits every year. At the annual meeting in June 1966 the members heard about a great many activities, but a widespread failure to support the economic needs of the

 

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fuller3

 

Rev. John C. Fuller, minister

From 1961 to 1973.

 

society. Church expenses stayed within budgeted figures, but pledges were falling behind, and new expenses were anticipated. Jo Gould asked to limit her responsibilities to supervision of the lower grades in the church school, and the new Youth Education Committee called for an assistant minister to help with the young people. John Fuller had already expressed a need for an assistant to help him minister to the large congregation. In November, Fuller again went to the hospital for a complete rest. Jo Gould requested a paid assistant, but the society could not afford it and the trustees refused to charge a fee for pupils in the church school. In 1967 the UUA began formal accreditation for Directors of Religious Education and Jo Gould was one of the few who qualified for the DRE without additional study and training. She was honored for her new professional status at May Memorial's annual meeting in June. A few months later Jo resigned as DRE at May Memorial effective June 1968, after which she took a position at the First Universalist Society where the Sunday school had fewer children. Her resignation, plus another hospitalization for John Fuller at Easter 1968, brought to a head the need for an assistant minister. After a series of neighborhood group meetings to discuss the situation, the trustees appointed a search committee that recommended a minister. from a new fellowship in the midwest. He decided not to accept the call and the church then called Ronald Clark from Berkeley, California, who was appointed DRE in June 1968.

 

In the fall John Fuller, back in the pulpit after a restful summer, reported to the trustees that everything was going smoothly with the two ministers. The treasurer reported the church was still running a deficit, but it was less than expected. At Fuller's suggestion the trustees decided to make the call for financial support less strident by eliminating the offering from the morning service and attaching the collection plates to the sanctuary doors where the congregation members could drop their offerings as they walked out after the service. This experiment was continued for two years, although it cut nearly in half the amount collected every Sunday. Early in 1970, in view of continuing deficits, the congregation voted to reinstate passing the plate for an offering during

 

[page 48]

 

jogould

 

Mrs. Josephine T. Gould, Directory of Religious Education,

1949-1965

 

the Sunday service, for an estimated $900 increase in yearly income.

 

At the annual meeting in June 1969 John Fuller described the congregation as swinging. The Samuel J. May citation had been instituted in 1967 to honor political and social action, and the first one had been presented to Eleanor Rosebrugh, a long-time member who was a social worker and journalist as well as a strong supporter of social action within the congregation. In 1969 the citation was given to Mr. and Mrs. W. D. Rumsey, a Syracuse couple in the real estate business who assisted blacks in buying homes. Members at the meeting voted a resolution in support of the state legislature's proposal to repeal criminal statutes on abortion, and another to nominate a high school student in the congregation for a position on the board of trustees each year, a constitutional change that never was adopted.

 

This was the era of the War on Poverty, the sexual revolution, burning ghettos, student protests, and antiwar demonstrations. Under John

 

[page 49]

Fuller's leadership many members of the congregation took an active part in the Civil Rights struggle and the anti-Vietnam War effort. Like many other U-U ministers, John Fuller counseled conscientious objectors and women seeking legal abortions outside New York State. As one trustee said a few months before his family stopped attending, "Our liberal actions have gotten ahead of our less liberal members, and the newer members are less able to pledge." Many dissatisfied members did not resign, they just forgot to pay their pledges. Long-time stalwart members who resigned from the congregation were probably reflecting their uneasiness with society as a whole as well as their disagreement with policies of May Memorial Unitarian Society.

 

The UUA was involved in many of the controversial issues and the national board voted to fund the Black Caucus, an organization of Unitarian blacks who wanted to use denominational funds to help start businesses in black ghettos. As a result the denomination lost a lot of members and support nationwide. In desperation the UUA Board suggested mandatory assessments on congregations to support the denomination's budget. In 1969 the May Memorial congregation voted against mandatory assessments by the UUA, and the trustees broke the long and continuing tradition of sending uninstructed delegates to General Assemblies by instructing delegates to vote against the mandatory assessments. Money was so tight in the denomination that the St. Lawrence District had to give up its offices and for a while operated out of the Goulds' house, where Jo acted as secretary.

 

Even with its serious financial problems May Memorial was still considered one of the healthiest congregations in the denomination because of its large and enthusiastic membership. During the 1969-1970 church year the trustees met weekly to try to solve the deficit problem, which was expected to reach $10,000 by June. The society raised money with a series of roast beef dinners, cooked by John Fuller, that were open the public, and put on a large and successful May Faire.

 

Successful fund raising staved off disaster, and the trustees encouraged a wealth of activities to try to alleviate divisive resentments and factionalism among members. May Memorial was a bustling place where some members were deeply involved in encounter and discussion groups. The trustees established the Gallery Committee to mount museum quality shows by local artists in the social hall. When Ron Clark resigned to accept a call to a pulpit in Salt Lake City in January 1971, lay members took on the direction of the church school. The older children's classes were organized around activity interests. There was a pottery studio and jewelry making and a craft shop in one of the rooms to sell items made by teen-aged pupils. In March 1971 the Worship Committee was organized to assist the minister in planning services and filling the

 

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pulpit on Sundays. In May the trustees established the campus intern program in cooperation with the First Universalist Society, to provide living expenses for a U-U ministerial student who would work at Hendricks Chapel of Syracuse University. At the annual meeting that June total pledges of $59,000 were reported, and receipts exceeded expenses for the first half of the year. John Fuller said the society was in the "... healthiest condition since he came in 1961."

 

In less than a decade, May Memorial had weathered the move to a new building with the ensuing financial difficulties, and a tremendous turnover in membership. At the annual meeting in 1972 John Fuller reported that there had been 800 new members in ten years, with a net increase in membership of zero. Although he described the current status of the society in the words of a popular psychology book of the day, "I'm OK, You're OK," his health continued to be a problem. Without his strong leadership attendance dwindled and deficits built up. After a series of discussion meetings among the members about the goals and needs of the society, Fuller resigned in the spring of 1973 and accepted the call of a smaller congregation in Scituate, Massachusetts. He died of a heart attack at his home in Scituate on 5 December 1974 at the age of 53. Two years later Betsy Fuller returned to live and work in Syracuse where she is still an active member of our society.

 

With John Fuller's death Unitarian-Universalists lost "one of the very rare men" known for strong leadership in the denomination, an assessment made in 1964 by Dr. Duncan Howlett of the All Souls' pulpit in Washington, D.C. Fuller had steered May Memorial during its own relocation and the changes of the black revolution, women's movement, including the demise of the local Women's Alliance, and the Vietnam war protests with their peace marches and teach-ins. He had personally played a vital part in the great movements of that time, leading local ministers into dialogue with City Hall over discrimination, taking part in protest marches and teach-ins, supporting activism within his congregation for housing, jobs, and peace. True to his own words; he had fashioned at May Memorial a "sanctuary of every seeking, questing soul…an open door to all truth and all men." Members of the congregation traveled to Massachusetts to attend the memorial service for John Fuller. At another service held in Syracuse on 15 December the whole congregation gathered to remember his ministry. Rev. Nick Cardell led the service and the choir sang the musical setting of Robert Frost's poem, "The Road Not Taken."

 

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OPEN CHANNELS

 

The fortunes of May Memorial Unitarian Society were at a low point that summer of 1973, but a nucleus of dedicated members hoped the congregation would grow again and worked to make it happen. They called interim minister Rev. Robert Holmes to the pulpit for the 1973-1974 church year and, with the help of the UUA, organized a search committee to find a successor to John Fuller. Late in April 1974 the committee recommended a man "very nearly fitting the ideal candidate for our new minister." The Reverend Nicholas C. Cardell, Jr. from the Albany Unitarian- Universalist Society visited Syracuse for a week in May, delivering sermons on two successive Sundays. On 5 May 1974 an enthusiastic congregation voted to call Nick Cardell.

 

The theme of Mr. Cardell's ministry appears in the first line of a hymn often sung at his Sunday morning services. Written by Richard C. Trench in 1838 and set to a seventeenth century hymn tune, the verse begins "Make channels for the streams of love..." First priority for both Nick Cardell and his wife Cathy was, and still is, to nurture a feeling of caring and community at May Memorial. Taking on the job of church secretary, Cathy Cardell soon became a welcoming, empathic presence in the office. On Sunday the opening words welcome us to our temple, our church, our kiva, whatever place evokes feelings of religious community and home. We welcome people from every heritage of faith with the words, "Come as you are, with your doubts as well as your convictions, with your hopes and your fears, with your failures and your aspirations. Here may no one be a stranger..."

 

Nick Cardell has provided many symbolic celebrations of community for the society. The first Sunday service in September traditionally opens with a gathering in the social hall where everyone joins hands to form a long, circling spiral that leads into the sanctuary. On family Sundays we light a large community candle that is molded from many candles burned at individual family celebrations. On All Souls' Day following Halloween we hang brightly colored leaves on a memorial tree, each one inscribed with the name of someone loved who has died. Dedication of infants and young children is accompanied by recognition of our oldest members.

 

When he first came, Nick Cardell organized minifellowships, a series of neighborhood meetings in homes with the minister. He started a monthly lunch meeting among all the U-U ministers of the central New York area, which continues as a valuable source of fellowship and support for them. We still hold the annual friendship dinners he started to honor those new members of May Memorial who have "signed the book" in the past year. During Cardell's first year at MMUS there was no drastic change in congregational activities, although emphasis shifted

 

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toward meeting the needs of present members rather than concentrating on new ones. There were fewer interest groups with greater depth in each activity. The canvass was still bringing in less than $50,000 a year, but the congregation managed to plan a balanced budget for 1975.

 

That was the year the denomination celebrated the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the American Unitarian Association. A continental committee for the anniversary celebration was chaired by Bob Zoerheide, then living in Lexington, Massachusetts. A committee at May Memorial planned and mounted a historical exhibit in the social hall and held an open house and reception for the sesquicentennial celebration. Mary Margaret (Moc) Kuhlen, a long-time active member, created three colorful banners designed by artist George VanderSluis to hang on the front wall of the sanctuary, symbolizing the AUA, the UUA, and the U-U Service Committee.

 

The growing sense of community began to work toward new solutions of old problems. In September 1975 the board of trustees started the tradition of an annual overnight retreat where the board members could get acquainted with each other and with the most urgent items to come before them in the next few months. The board adopted an organized committee structure with assigned liaison responsibilities for each trustee. In the spring of 1976 the society made a greater commitment to religious education by electing a religious education council and hiring Pat Hoertdoerfer as part-time RE coordinator. "The Growing Up Year" curriculum began to raise the interest of young teen-agers leading to their presentation of a Sunday service every June. A series of New-U discussion workshops was started and is offered several times a year for new members and friends who want to learn about Unitarian-Universalism and May Memorial.

 

Energy and enthusiasm grew in the congregation. Members put on holiday parties, served gourmet dinners, and organized money-raising activities that produced fun as well as funds. The Christmas tree sale organized by forestry professor Gerry Lanier became a popular annual event that involves a majority of members and still brings in several thousand dollars every December. Rummage and plant sales, service auctions, and many smaller events helped meet expenses. Gradually membership and pledging began to increase again. The canvass total was close to $60,000 in 1978 and $64,000 in 1979. Average attendance on Sundays was 145 in the fall of 1978, 171 in the fall of 1979.

 

Besides the membership and money shortages, the board needed to deal with problems concerning the building. In response to the energy crisis of the 1970s they closed the building several nights a week during the winter and started a plan to put clear insulating plastic inside the glass windows. Adjustments to the drainage and plumbing, replacement of

 

[page 53]

the deteriorated concrete wall along the front walk, addition of a ramp for handicapped access, and extensive roof repairs were all accomplished by 1985, with the help of a special fund drive. Enlargement of the parking lot, a new driveway, and refinishing the outside walls were completed by the end of 1987.

 

The long tradition of closing the church during July and August was modified about 1970 to allow a popular social event, the Friday night Pub, to continue throughout the summer. During the mid-1970s members began to take responsibility for access to the building so it could be open all year round on a flexible, informal basis. Since 1977 a committee has been appointed every spring to plan special summer Sunday services led by members or invited speakers. Attendance ranges from 40 to 70. Through an active worship committee, lay-led services have also become part of the regular church year, celebrating events like the winter solstice and the Christmas Eve candlelight tradition. A large and active choir presents two or more Sunday morning concerts every year.

 

A new experience for the society began in 1979 when Nick Cardell formally requested the grant of six months sabbatical leave. Study and discussion in board and congregation led to a consensus, with some dissent, that a sabbatical leave would be a challenging and renewing experience for both the minister and the congregation and that it was within our financial means. The society voted 92 to 8 in favor of granting the minister a six-month sabbatical leave starting in January 1980. The worship committee planned and scheduled Sunday services with the help of Paula Murray who worked part-time to coordinate the arrangements. The society functioned well during the sabbatical, and the trustees noted that income for the period was greater than expected. Besides giving the minister a needed rest, the sabbatical was an exercise in self-confidence for the congregation. It was also a demonstration of Nick Cardell's purpose as minister, which he defines as empowering people to minister to each other in a climate of community.

 

In the autumn of 1980 May Memorial cooperated with the UUA in a membership experiment. Advertisements about the U-U religion were placed in the local media in Syracuse and several other cities around the continent, and people attending Sunday services in the U-U churches of those cities were asked to fill out short questionnaires that were collected as they left the .sanctuary. At a May Memorial board meeting the following March, Nick Cardell reported that the advertising had drawn new members nationwide, and that May Memorial showed the largest increase of any society participating in the experiment. In 1984 an anonymous gift of $18,000 from a member of the Society enabled the minister to run a new advertising campaign resulting in more members.

 

At about this time a new arrangement was made for the university

 

[page 54]

chaplain program the two U-U Societies in Syracuse were supporting with the Hendricks Chapel of Syracuse University. It became a full-time parish program with a ministerial student appointed to work as an intern at the church and at the university chapel program. May Memorial and First Universalist support the program financially with a generous subsidy from the New York State Universalist Convention. An intern minister is appointed to each society on alternate years. To date May Memorial has had two interns, Mark Allstrom and Alida DeCoster, and First Universalist has had one, Beth Banks. This was the first intern ministry of its kind in the denomination. Nick Cardell also encourages student ministers to help out in the church program while taking courses at Syracuse University.

 

After thirty years as a Unitarian parsonage, the old house at 913 Comstock had become a drain on the manpower and resources of the society. A committee studied the question of ministers' housing in 1974 and recommended the parsonage be sold and the proceeds used to set up a housing fund for the minister. This was not done until 1981 when another study committee developed a detailed plan for setting up a housing fund. In the fall of 1981 Nick and Cathy Cardell bought a smaller house for themselves and the parsonage was sold. The plan to use the proceeds for a housing fund is working out well for both the society and the minister.

 

While the society's financial difficulties during the 1970s and early 1980s resulted in inadequate support of the UUA's Annual Fund, the congregation supported the UUA in other ways. Nick Cardell spent two months in Kennewick, Washington, helping the congregation there grow strong enough to call a minister. The society shared Cardell's energies with other congregations of the St. Lawrence District for many years while he served as UUA Settlement Representative, helping neighbor churches choose their ministers. Members of MMUS have been pleased and proud that their minister was a member and for several years the chair of the UUA's Ministerial Fellowship Committee, working on standards for ministerial education and assisting dedicated people to enter the U-U ministry. He also chaired the UUA committee that set up the Minister of Religious Education program for the UUA.

 

Congregational differences on social and political issues that had developed during the 1960s were resolved during the 1970s, but the members did not stop taking sides on controversial community activities. A group of volunteers kept on with the traditional U-U support of Planned Parenthood in the face of increasingly strident opposition from organized groups in the area. Several members of the society, including Mr. Cardell, served as Chairpersons of the Planned Parenthood board during the 1970s. In 1976 the state Division for Youth bought a large old

 

[page 55]

house at 3737 East Genesee Street for a youth home. Because of growing opposition from neighbors in the area, the trustees of May Memorial called for informational meetings and authorized sending the facts of the issue to the newspaper. Members of the congregation formed a neighborhood committee, invited speakers to discuss the group home project and calmed the fears of the homeowners who were opposing it. Some members said the project could never succeed in that particular place, but twelve years later the youth home is still there and its residents have caused no special problems in the neighborhood. When the movement for homosexual rights sought support from liberal religion during the seventies and eighties, May Memorial furnished space for gay/lesbian gatherings and welcomed homosexual singles and couples into membership. The society still carries on its long tradition of providing meeting space for other controversial groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Organization for Women, Amnesty International, and the Nuclear Freeze.

 

Organized social action in the congregation started again in 1980 with a Sunday morning exercise in goals building. The whole congregation broke into small discussion groups to articulate their hopes for the future. One of the strongly expressed goals was to become more active in the social problems of the Syracuse community. The board set up a Social Responsibilities Committee as the channel for this congregational concern. Early in the 1980s changes in government and social policy in the United States resulted in numbers of homeless people living on the streets of our cities. The Social Responsibilities Committee formed a Homeless and Hungry subcommittee whose members cooperate with the Food Consortium set up by the Syracuse Area Interreligious Council to collect money and donations of food for distribution to the poor. The Committee takes turns with other congregations recruiting volunteers to cook and serve lunch at the Samaritan Center in St. Paul's Episcopal Church on Montgomery Street.

 

The year 1981 also marked the beginning of the society's interest in refugees from El Salvador. It began with a joint meeting of the Syracuse U-U churches sponsored by the U-U Service Committee, which sent a representative to speak about events in Central America. This was followed with the idea of holding "coffeeless coffee hours." The money that would have been spent on coffee would instead be donated to a fund for refugees. The board questioned the wisdom of requiring Unitarians to give up their coffee and finally recommended several ways the congregation might drink its coffee and donate, too.

 

A Sunday morning forum in March 1981 on the causes of the refugee problem started the long involvement of a group of members that eventually resulted in May Memorial's commitment to the Sanctuary

 

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nickbook

 

movement. Civil wars in El Salvador and Guatemala displaced hundreds of thousands of families who fled to neighboring countries. An estimated 200,000 of these people made their way to the United States, most as illegal immigrants who were deported to their homeland if caught by immigration authorities. Sanctuary is an interfaith movement, loosely organized to provide shelter and material aid to these refugees while exerting political pressure to legalize their temporary residence in the United States until it is safe for them to return home. People in the Sanctuary movement point out the historical parallel with the underground railroad during slavery times, and Unitarians in Syracuse make the obvious connection with Samuel May and his antislavery activism. A Sanctuary committee formed at May Memorial in the summer of 1983 after hearing a representative of the movement speak at a summer service.

 

Ann Tiffany and Agnes Lane, with the help of the Cardells and several others, and with the approval of the board of trustees, organized an educational program. It included informational forums, group discussions, speakers, films and debates, all of which led the congregation in December 1983 to vote an offer of temporary sanctuary to a refugee as a test of the congregation's interest in the movement. Most of the congregation agreed that Central Americans should have refugee

 

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status as victims of political persecution. However, a strong minority opposed having the congregation, as a whole, take a stand on a political issue -- an act that, so far as anyone knows, would be only the second such instance in its history. The minority's concerns were not theoretical ones. The Immigration and Naturalization Service was threatening prosecution of people in the Sanctuary movement. (In early 1986 the INS did successfully prosecute several members of Sanctuary in the Southwest, although the convictions were appealed.) Some members at May Memorial felt very strongly that they could not belong to a society taking part in a "conspiracy" to shelter illegal aliens.

 

The vote in December 1983 was a real test of the congregation's sense of community. Could a small group of activists, supported by a large majority of sympathizers, get the society to commit itself to controversial action without alienating the minority who disagreed? The answer was both "yes" and "no." The Sanctuary resolution passed by an 80.5% majority with 145 for, 29 against, 7 abstaining. The Sanctuary Committee was overjoyed that they had strong support for practical measures to help suffering people. The majority of members felt good supporting what they perceived to be an act of both justice and humanity. The minority hoped it would not divide the congregation and a few felt disappointed and betrayed by the society. Six members resigned. One of them had grown up in the society, three had belonged for decades, and all were active and valued members. They are still missed.

 

In October 1984 a young couple who were refugees from El Salvador lived for two weeks at May Memorial, sharing their experiences of war and political persecution as well as their "overground railroad" travels representing the Sanctuary movement. While in Syracuse they also spoke before audiences at many other churches and religious organizations. Following their departure, the Sanctuary Committee continued its educational activities and in the spring of 1985 the congregation voted to join with other Sanctuary congregations in a lawsuit filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York City. The suit requests legal refugee status for Central Americans who have fled persecution. It also seeks legal justification for religious organizations aiding them. As of this writing the suit is still being contested.

 

In the meantime other groups in Syracuse had become interested in the Sanctuary movement and, encouraged by May Memorial, had begun their own educational programs. In May 1986 the congregation once again took up the issue and this time voted 145 to 18, an 89% majority, to form a Covenant Sanctuary with other congregations and groups in Syracuse to offer long-term sanctuary to a Guatemalan or Salvadoran family. The Sanctuary Committee together with committees from the Plymouth Congregational Church, the Society of Friends, Pax Christi,

 

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lizbook

 

Rev. Elizabeth M. Strong, Minister

of Religious Education, 1988

 

New Jewish Agenda, and individuals from other local congregations organized the Covenant Sanctuary Committee of Syracuse. Together they prepared for the shelter and support of a refugee family. A budget was planned and pledges were solicited to cover a family's living expenses, and in May 1987 a family of three adults and three children from EI Salvador moved into an apartment prepared by the committee. Growing out of the nucleus at May Memorial, the Syracuse Covenant Sanctuary is truly a community effort. Hoping that peace and stability will come in Central America, refugees are beginning to return home. Sanctuary workers are accompanying them, helping to assess the safety of returning families and testifying to them and to their governments that they are neither friendless nor forgotten. Committee members hope that the civil wars will end and Accompaniment will replace Sanctuary as the work of their movement.

 

The congregation seemed to grow stronger after the Sanctuary vote. In 1987 membership was more than 400, with 170 children registered in the RE program under part-time director Don MacKay. For two years in a row the canvass had surpassed its goal, and the final 1987 budget was more than $150,000. After a year-long study of religious education and adult programming, the congregation voted to search for a second minister to work in those areas. In April 1988 the search committee presented their chosen candidate, Elizabeth May Strong from Rochester, New York. She was called by an enthusiastic congregational vote on 24 April and accepted immediately. The society looks forward to the ministry of Liz Strong beginning in September.

 

As this is being written in 1988, a committee is planning our one hundred fiftieth anniversary celebration. On the schedule are recognition of lay leadership, a sermon by Bill Schultz, president of the UUA, an exhibit at the Onondaga Historical Museum, choir presentations and gallery shows. In addition to these special events, we can say our religious society itself is a celebration, one that has been going on with all its historic changes for more than 150 years.

 

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CONCLUSION

 

The Unitarian heresy swept out of New England 150 years ago bringing to Syracuse the novel idea that people should apply reason to their religion. Unitarians considered themselves pure Christians. They rejected the dogmas and creeds devised by organized religion and encouraged individual responsibility for religious belief. Their Christianity called for caring concern for people of all faiths or no faith, and their reason led them to call for freedom for all men and also for women, long before mainstream society rejected slavery or accepted women's rights.

 

This religion teaches neither hope of heaven nor fear of hell; it motivates people to give their personal strength and financial support for a society that meets their needs here and now. Each generation of Unitarians in Syracuse has coped with the problems of maintaining an institution with voluntary contributions of time and money from busy people who were also actively involved in many other worthy endeavors. For a time in the early 1900s a few very wealthy members often covered gaps in the church budget. Our congregation today is financed by a large number of modest pledges.

 

Throughout our history the symbiotic relationship between the professionals, ministers and RE directors, and the congregation has been demonstrated again and again. Effective professionals attract an active, generous membership. Committed, responsible members improve the property and provide constructive programs and leadership. A feeling of warmth and personal acceptance among both professional and lay members empowers them to reach out to the larger community. The pure Christianity of our founders has evolved into liberal religion, but the essence is still the same: loving concern for all people combined with freedom of belief based on reason. In the historical records we see how members of our society practiced those ideals. Choosing from 150 years of history is extremely difficult. We did our best to include interesting and significant information. We hope it will give readers a sense of what our society has stood for in the past and where it stands today.

 

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BIOGRAPHICAL BRIEFS

 

Applebee, Rev. Dr. John Henry, fourth minister. Born England in 1867. Moved to United States with parents 1878. Educated Boston High School and Meadville Theological School, graduated 1894. Served Parkside Unitarian Church, Buffalo, four years; West Roxbury, Massachusetts until 1905; Pilgrims Church, Attleboro, Massachusetts, six years. Associate minister and minister, May Memorial 1911 to 1929. Honorary doctorate, Meadville 1924. Died in Syracuse 1938.

 

Argow, Rev. Dr. Wendelin Waldemar Weiland, fifth minister. Born Dayton, Ohio 1891. Educated University of Louisville, Kentucky; Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Th.D., Southwestern Theological Seminary 1921. Ordained Baptist minister 1913. Served Baptist church, Lorain, Ohio 1914 to 1919. Became pacifist, resigned ministry. Worked two years 23rd Street YMCA, New York City; studied at New York University. Accepted Unitarian Fellowship 1920. Minister People's Church, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 1921. Minister May Memorial 1930. Minister Unitarian Church, Baltimore 1941. Retired 1961. Died 1961, Amherst, Massachusetts.

 

Calthrop, Rev. Dr. Samuel Robert third minister. Born Swineshead Abbey, Lincolnshire, England 1829. Educated St. Paul's School, London and Trinity College, Cambridge. Moved to United States 1853. Minister Universalist Church, Southold, Long Island, New York three months. Ran school for boys, Bridgeport, Connecticut, six years. Ordained Unitarian minister 1860. Minister Unitarian churches Marblehead and Newburyport, Massachusetts. Minister Church of the Messiah 1868 and May Memorial when it was built in 1885. Pastor Emeritus 1911. LH.D. Syracuse University, June 1900. Died in Syracuse 1917.

 

Canfield, Rev. Glenn Owen, seventh minister. Born Topeka, Kansas 1907. Educated Texas Christian University, McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago, Illinois. Presbyterian minister Woodstock, Illinois; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Hobbs, New Mexico. Sought free religion, social reform. Unitarian minister Clinton and Berlin, Massachusetts 1945. Minister May Memorial 1946. Minister-at-Large Atlanta, Georgia 1951. Started racially integrated United Liberal Church, Atlanta, 1954. Minister First Unitarian Church, Miami, Florida 1956. Vice-president American Unitarian Association 1956. Executive secretary UUA districts in New England and the Southwest 1959 to 1969. Died in Tulsa, Oklahoma 1973.

 

Cardell, Rev. Dr. Nicholas C, Jr., tenth minister. Born Smith's Falls, Ontario, Canada 1925. Moved to New York City 1928. Army service World War II. Graduated Columbia College, New York City 1952; Meadville Theological School 1957. Ordained minister First Unitarian Society, Plainfield, New Jersey 1957. Minister First Unitarian Society, Albany, New York 1962. Minister May Memorial 1974 to present. D.D. Meadville 1987.

 

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Fuller, Rev. John Channing, ninth minister. Born Cambridge, Massachusetts 1921. Graduated Williams College 1943. Navy service World War II. Graduated Meadville Theological School 1949. Graduate studies University of Basel Switzerland; Cambridge University, England Minister Unitarian church, New London, Connecticut 1951. Minister Unitarian church, Orlando, Florida 1953. Minister May Memorial 1961. Minister Unitarian Church, Scituate, Massachusetts 1973. Died in Scituate 1974.

 

May, Rev. Samuel Joseph, second minister. Born Boston, Massachusetts 1797. Educated Chauncey Hall School and Harvard College, 1817. Taught school while attending Harvard Divinity School, graduated 1820. Ordained King's Chapel, Boston 1822. Minister Unitarian Church, Brooklyn, Connecticut 1822. Minister, Unitarian Church, South Scituate, Massachusetts 1836. Principal Female Normal School, Lexington, Massachusetts 1842. Minister Church of the Messiah, Syracuse 1845. Retired 1868. Died in Syracuse 1871.

 

Romig, Rev. Robert Eldon, sixth minister. Born Fort Scott, Kansas 1908. B. A Degree University of Denver 1929. Theological studies Hoff School of Theology, Denver, graduated Meadville Theological School, University of Chicago 1936. Automobile accessories business, Denver, Omaha, Des Moines. Minister First Unitarian Church, Duluth, Minnesota 1936. Minister May Memorial 1941. World War II Chairman of War Price and Rationing Board, Onondaga County, two years. Area field representative northern counties New York State United War Fund 1944 and 1945. Resigned ministry 1946 to become advocate for United Nations. Returned to Syracuse 1951, Assistant to President Davis Distributing Corp. Died in Syracuse 1986.

 

Storer, Rev. John Parker Boyd, first minister. Born Portland, Maine 1794. Graduated Bowdoin College 1812. Theology student Bowdoin College 1812. Tutor Bowdoin College 1816. Ordained minister Unitarian Church, Walpole, Massachusetts 1826. Minister Unitarian Congregational Society, Syracuse, New York 1839. Died in Syracuse 1844.

 

Strong, Rev. Elizabeth May, first minister of religious education Born Cooperstown, New York 1940. B.A Syracuse University 1962. M.S. Nazareth College 1978. Graduate study Colgate Rochester Divinity School 1979 to 1983. MRE diploma Independent Study Program, Unitarian Universalist Association 1983. Ordained First Unitarian Church, Rochester, New York 1983. DRE Rochester Unitarian church 1978, MRE 1983. MRE May Memorial 1988.

 

Zoerheide, Rev. Robert Lee, eighth minister. Born Grand Rapids, Michigan 1914. Educated Western Michigan College, Meadville Theological School 1943. Graduate study Harvard Minister Universalist church, Hoopestown, Illinois. Minister Unitarian students greater Boston Unitarian Service. Committee. Ran hostel for Japanese-Americans, Boston 1945. Minister Unitarian Church, Peterborough, New Hampshire 1946. Minister May Memorial 1952. Minister Cedar Lane Unitarian Church, Bethesda, Maryland 1961. Minister First Parish, Lexington, Massachusetts 1971. Minister First Unitarian Church, Baltimore 1978. Retired 1985, in Baltimore, Maryland.

 

[page 62]

INDEX

[actual page numbers from the original hard copy are shown at the top of each page, left justified]

Abbott. George, 46; Stephen, 3

Abortion, 48, 49

Advertising, 34, 53

AME Zion Church, 13, 27

American Unitarian Association, AUA, 29, 30, 34, 36, 52

Annual award, 27

Anthony; Susan B., 14

Anti-Slavery Society, 7, 13; convention riot, 14

Applebee, Alice, 25, 26, 29; Rev. John H, 24-27

Architect, 5, 11, 39, 40, 46

Argow, Rev. W. Waldemar W., 28-30

Army Club, 26-27

Attendance, Sunday services, 30, 52

Auchincloss, Sarah, 30, 38

Bagg, James L, 15, 45; Mary Redfield, 19

Ball Joyce Deline, 27

Barnes, George, 13; Mrs. James, 22

Bassett. Parley, 4

Bates, Sanford, 29

Belluschi, Dean Pietro, 40, 46

Bethany Fellowship, 33

Betts, Rev. Frederick, 25

Bigelow, Cornelia 1, 22

Black, 7, 17, 27, 33, 41; caucus, 49; integration, 15, 42

Board Retreat, 52

Brown, Rev. Antoinette, 14

Burdick, Bob, 41

Burlingame, Kitty, 27

Burt, Oliver T., 13

Bust, May, 17; and Calthrop, 24, 40.

Caldwell Lyndon, 27

Calthrop, Elizabeth Primrose, 18; Rev. Samuel R, 4, 16-25

Campus Club, 28, 30, 33, 39

Canal boys, 9

Canfield, Rev. Glenn O., 31-34

Canvass, see pledges

Cardell Cathy, 51; Rev. Nick, 50-58

Carter, Mrs. W.H, 27

Catholic, 9; Interracial Council, 42

Chamberlin. John. 36, 39

Channing, William Ellery, 7, 13, 40

Chapel, 3

Chase, Anna Agan, 30

Cheney, George, 27

Child care, 40, 41; babyfold, 41

Choir, 21, 22, 26, 29, 39, 50, 53, 58; loft, 24, 44

Christian. 4, 29, 35

Christianity, 7, 9, 35, 59

Christian Register, 3, 4, 5, 6, 38

Church of the Messiah, 5, 8, 12, 14, 15; destroyed, 10; rededicated, 11; sold, 20

Church school, 6, 19, 21, 24, 25, 27, 41, 49; renovate, 29, 30; overcrowded, 38, 39, 41, 46

Church-state, 36

City Hall, 9, 11, 14, 15, 42, 50

Civil War, 14

Civil rights, 48

Clark, Rev. Albert W., 23-24; Rev. Ronald, 47, 49

Clary, Dr. Lyman, 13

Cogswell, David, 5

Communion, 9, 25, 27

Congregational church, 9, 10, 18; Plymouth, 57

Conscientious objector, 49

Conservative, 30, 34

Cooper, Mary, 45

Council of Churches, 29, 33, 35-36, 42

Crandall, Prudence, portrait, 16

Dedication, Church of the Messiah, 6, 11; May Memorial Church, 21;      3800 East Genesee, 46

DeWitt, Rev. Dale, 34

Divinity School Address, 9, 19

Dunbar Center, 27

Dupee, James, 21

 

[page 63]

East Genesee site, 39, 40

Education, 15-16; for retarded, 38

Eliot, Frederick May, 29; Rev. Samuel A, 25

Evangelist, Finney, 12; Sunday, 27; Graham, 35

Evolution, 19

Fair, 4, 41, 49; Department Store, 24

Forum, 42

Frank C McCarthy School, 38

Friedman, Rabbi Benjamin, 29

Fuller, Betsy, 40, 50; Rev. John C, 40, 50

Gage, Matilda Joslyn, 17

Gallery committee, 49

Galpin, W. Freeman, 3, 6

General Assembly, 49

Gifford, Isabella Graham, 17

God, 12, 17, 18, 21, 25, 46

Goodrich, Mrs. L. L, 19

Gould, Josephine T., 33, 38, 46, 47, 49

Grace Episcopal Church, 42

Guttman, Rabbi Adolph, 25

Hazard, Mrs. F. R (Dora Sedgwick), 27

Hendricks Chapel, 28, 39, 50, 54

Hiscock, Judge Frank and Mrs., 29

Hoertdoerfer, Pat, 52

Holtkamp, Walter, 46

Homosexual, 55

Hospital, St. Joseph's, 9

Housing, 35, 50; committee, 33, 42; minister's fund, 54

Hovey, Alfred H, 13

Howe, Rev. Marie Jenny, 22

Howlett, Rev. Dr. Duncan, 50

Hoyt, Dr. Hiram, 3, 13

Hyde, Salem, 25

Interim minister, 14, 26, 27, 51

Internship, 50

James St. Church, see May Memorial

Jenney, Maria Saul, 19; see Howe

Jerry Rescue, 13-14

Jesus Christ, 9, 13, 18, 21, 35, 36, 37

Johnson, Verah, 46

Jordan, Alice, 46

Judeo-Christian, 37

Judson, Edward B., 19

Kapp, Rev. Max, 37

Kelley, Abbey, 7

Kharas, Ralph, 37

Knapp, Elder, 4; Sarah Hazard, 30

Kosoff Construction Company, 41

Kuhlen, Mary Margaret (Moc), 42

Lanier, Gerry, 52

Laymen's League, 28, 38

League of Women Voters, 42

Liberal, 29, 30, 34, 35, 36, 41, 44, 49

Lee, Rev. Luther, 12

Lewis, Elizabeth, 27

Lexington, Mass., 7, 8, 52

Loguen, Rev. Jermain, 13

Malcolm William 4

Manwell, Dr. Elizabeth, 29-30, 31, 33, 35, 42, 43, 45; Dr. Reginald, 30

May, Joseph, 7; Rev. Joseph, 21; Lucretia, 7, 8, 9, 13; Rev. Samuel J., 7-18, 44; bust, 17; Citation, 48; medallion, 22; 100th anniversary, 22; school, 16; Samuel, Jr., 21

May Meetings, 36

May Memorial Church, 17, 20-23, 32, 39; name, 20, 45; Unitarian Society, 45 McLennan, Bill, 46

Membership, 33, 34, 39, 46, 49, 50, 52, 58; newcomers, 19, 28, 51, 52; experiment, 53

Men's Club, 25, 26, 28; see Laymen's League

Merger, Unitarian-Universalist, 36-37

Mertens, Henry, 40, 46

Methodist, church, 4; Episcopal, 11; Wesleyan, 4, 12

Mills, C. DeB., 15; Harriet May, 9, 24; Harriet Smith, 9

Mott, Lucretia, 14

Murray, Paula, 53

Music, 21, 22, 24, 26, 29, 39

NAACP, 33, 35

National Conference of Unitarians, 15, 36; see May Meetings, General Assembly

Negro, see Black

 

[page 64]

Newsboys' Evening Home, 22

Northrup, 11

O'Hara, Father James, 9

One Hundredth Anniversary, 29

Onondaga Indians, 9

Organ, 21, 24, 41, 44, 46

Orphans, 8, 26

Pacificism, 10, 28, 31

Padgham, Amos, 24; Rev. Elizabeth, 22, 29, 34, 38, 44

Parish House, 30, 33

Parsonage, 30, 34, 54

Pew auction, 5, 11, 19, 26

Planned Parenthood, 30, 54

Pledges, 19, 26, 41, 43, 50, 52; Sanctuary, 58

Poister, Arthur, 46

Presbyterian, 4, 11

Protestant, 35

Pub, 53

Public affairs committee, 42

Putnam, Hiram, 4, 13

Reading room, 28

Reamon, Rev. Ellsworth, 29, 36

Register Book, 23, 51

Released time, 36

Religious education, 20, 52, 58; coordinator, 52; Council, 28, 38, 52; Director, 29, 38, 47, 54; Minister, 54, 58

Riester, Dorothy, 44

Romig, Rev. Robert E., 30-31

Rosebrugh, Eleanor, 48

Rumsey, W. D., 48

Saddington, Helen, 29

St. Lawrence District, 49

Sanctuary movement, 55-58

Schmitz, Henry, 43

Sedgwick, Charles B., 13

Slagle, May, 45

Social concerns, 6, 8-9, 22, 24-25, 27, 28, 34, 35, 41, 55

Southwick, Alice, 31

Stanton, Elizabeth Cady, 15

Stone, Lucy, 15

Storer, Rev. John P. B., 3-7, 21

Strong, Rev. Elizabeth M., 58

Summer services, 53

Sunday school, see church school

Syracuse Botany Club, 19

Syracuse Boys' Club, see Newsboys' Evening Home

Syracuse Committee on Racial Equality, CORE, 42

Syracuse House, 4, 5

Syracuse Memorial Society, 43

Temperance, 13, 15

Temple, Adath Yeshurun, 31; Concord, 17, 25, 26, 29, 42

Townsend, John, 4

Tracy, James G., 29

Trustees, first, 3; first women, 22

Unitarian Universalist Association, UUA, 37, 43, 47, 49, 51, 52, 53, 54; Service Committee, UUSC, 31, 52, 55

United Nations Association, 31

Universalist, 3, 25, 26, 29, 36, 37, 49, 54; First Universalist Society, 47, 50

VanderSluis, George, 52

Vietnam War, 49

Wallace, Elisha, 3; Lydia, 3, 8

Walsh, Elizabeth, 29; Warren, 36, 43

Ware, Rev. Henry, 3

Wertheimer, Dorothy, 31, 36

White, Dr. Andrew O., 16, 25; Horatio N, 5, 11, 20

Whitfield, Charles, 27

Wilkinson, Charlotte May, 16; John, 4

Willie, Dr. Charles V., 42

Williston, C. F., 4

Windows, memorial, 21

Woman suffrage, 15, 27

Women's Alliance, 19, 22, 24, 25, 26, 28, 29, 31, 38, 41, 50; children's lunch project, 31

Women's rights, 14

World War, I, 26; II, 30-31

Worship committee, 49

Yerington, Prof William, 42

Youth, 19, 28, 31, 33, 39, 47; home, 55

Zoerheide, Jean, 38; Rev. Robert L, 34-39, 52

 

 

Each reader of this document who is familiar with the current history of May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Society is encouraged to help write the church history during the past two decades. What would you like to see included as additional information is added to May No One Be A Stranger. Submit your ideas, stories, anecdotes, photos, etc. to Roger Hiemstra. Use email for any initial contacts. Let’s make this a living history document.

 

November 8, 2006