To show God's love by faithfully worshipping, praying, studying God's word, caring for each other and reaching out to others with the good news of Christ.
The Church of Christ Uniting in Richfield Springs is the result of a merger of the United Methodist Church and the First Presbyterian Church in 1970. After using the buildings alternately for a year, it was voted to keep the Presbyterian building. The Methodist building was sold and now belongs to Trinity Christian Reformed Church.
The present building has an interesting history. In the early 1800’s the community called Richfield was in the western area of what is now the Town of Richfield. Today this area is now called Monticello. The Richfield Springs of today was then known as East Richfield and was the smaller settlement. On September 12, 1803, a meeting was held in Richfield (Monticello) to form a congregational society. According to the records of the Otsego County Clerk, the First Congregational Society was incorporated on June 11, 1813. The first church was built sometime before that, about a half mile east of the present hamlet of Monticello. This building was destroyed by fire in 1822, but it had previously been sold to the Baptists to pay off debts of the Society.
In 1823, the Society was better off financially and called a pastor, Charles Wadsworth. By this time, East Richfield was becoming more settled and the resort era of Richfield Springs was beginning. Spectacular hotels lined Main Street (Route 20) for more than a century. In 1826 the Society built a house for public worship near the Canadarago Spring. This was a white wooden church with a low square tower at the front of the church with miniature steeples on its four corners.
Session records indicate that a bell was donated in 1869 by Robert J. Sherman of Albany. The church tower was inadequate to hold the bell, so it was hung in the steeple of the Universalist Church across the street where it served for a number of years to call both congregations to worship.
On June 11, 1844, the church was received by the Otsego Presbytery on the “accommodation plan.” But, it was not until June 6, 1869, that the denomination officially changed from Congregational to Presbyterian.
With a bequest of $1,500 in 1868 designated for a building, a new “session house” was built and “Church Consecration” held August 3, 1871, during the 16 year pastorate of Frank H. Seeley. This building was on the north side of the church property and was used only until 1877 when the present church was built. The “session house” was bought by Cyrus H. McCormick and was moved to his property at the north edge of town and was used as a caretaker’s house.
The cornerstone of the present building was laid August 16, 1876, and the church was dedicated July 26, 1877. An addition was built and dedicated June 5, 1902, providing much needed rooms for the large Sunday school classes and filling the necessity for a kitchen. A cemetery just east of the church is the burial place for many of the early settlers, Revolutionary and War of 1812 soldiers.
Perhaps the most notable event at the church took place on September 26, 1889 with the wedding of Anita McCormick, daughter of Cyrus McCormick, and Emmons Blaine, son of James G. Blaine, of Maine. Many notables were present. Mr. Blaine died in 1892 and his widow gave an organ to the church as a memorial. Placing the organ involved lengthening the sanctuary of the church 20 feet to the south with much attention to detail. Hand carved wood was installed that frames the memorial window at the front of the sanctuary and the organ pipes. New carpeting and pew cushions were also included. It is an exceptional organ by Farrand & Votery of Detroit, intricately carved by 20 men working six months. Dedication of the organ and new structure took place November 29, 1896 with Walter Damrosch at the organ.
In 1965, the Richfield Springs Presbyterian Church was transferred from the Susquehanna Presbytery to the Utica Presbytery. The Church of Christ Uniting is part of the North Central Conference, Mohawk District of the United Methodist Church and the Utica Presbytery. At the time of the merger in 1970, Leonard Owen was Pastor of the Methodist Church. He became the first pastor of the united church, followed by Gerald Boyer (Methodist) in 1972 and Charles Rudd in 1978. John Godocic served as Interim Pastor until the arrival of John A. Wilde. John Wilde became the first Presbyterian minister of the Church of Christ Uniting in 1988. He was followed by Bill Harkins in 1999. Art Minor and Peg Donaghey served as Co-Interim Pastors until 2010 when Debbie Waldron arrived. Mark Ioset became the church’s Pastor in 2012 until Casey Bradley’s arrival in 2019.
Gratitude is given to the Sesquicentennial Committee of the First Presbytery Church and the history they published in 1953 for most of this material. C. Frederic Frazier was pastor at that time. He was followed by Horace Del Pozzo. At the time of the merger, David Hornbeck was serving as interim pastor. The membership of the Church of Christ Uniting includes many belonging to the two merging churches and, as in 1803, a number of parishioners previously belonging to many different churches. The Church of Christ Uniting has the distinction of being the first church in the nation to take on that name, at a time it looked like a new denomination called by that name might be formed.
Many of those who make up our church family are from different Christian backgrounds. All those who decide to become members of the Church of Christ Uniting are considered to have full membership in both the United Methodist and Presbyterian USA denominations.
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