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Church celebrates 170-year anniversary

This is what the Charlotte Center Church building looked like at the turn of the 20th Century.

Special to the OBSERVER

On Oct. 11, 1851, an assemblage of people gathered from the surrounding countryside to Charlotte Center to attend the dedicatory service of the new Methodist Episcopal Church. It was a wonderful occasion for it was the first Methodist Church built in this locality. Enthusiasm ran high! The edifice was packed, balcony and all! What singing they had! Such songs of rejoicing over the work accomplished! Oh, they had good reason to be glad that day, for they were now seeing the result of many months of unremitting toll. One hundred seventy years ago Methodist churches were few and far between, served by heroic men who lived mostly on horseback, riding from one point to another, wherever a handful of souls came together for religious services.

Charlotte Center had but a small part of the pastor’s time, for there were 10 “Preaching Places” on the Gerry circuit, as it was then called. Almy’s, Pickard’s Corners, Gerry, West Ellery, Stilson, West’s Corners, Sinclairville, Ellery Center, Fluvanna and Charlotte Center were all served by one pastor. In 1854 the circuit was divided and one man looked after the needs of four communities.

In 1863 we find the apportionment on Pastor’s salary for Sinclairville $196, Charlotte Center $176, and Gerry $72. Obviously the pastor never lived in luxury, nor preached for the money that was in it.

Over the years, many dollars and many hours of labor (only God knows for sure how many) have been donated by church members and non-members to maintain and make many improvements to the church to get it to its present state. Today the church is eternally grateful for the loyalty of the congregation along with friends and past members of the church for all their dedication.

In 1959, the church services were moved to the Grange Hall and the building was jacked “sky-high” during the lengthy process of putting a basement under it, this was a major undertaking. What a dramatic improvement for the ladies of the church to serve dinners with a complete kitchen and dining room, instead of using the “upper room” balcony, with no conveniences. For five long years the Ladies Aid faithfully met the monthly payments on the loan by having 10 cent suppers, bazaars and unceasing toil. Those dinners continued into the 21st century, when unfortunately they had to stop due to working schedules of the women.

On Sunday, Oct. 10, the Charlotte Center United Methodist Church celebrated its 170th anniversary with a dinner following the 10 a.m. service. For more information about the church call or text 716-969-7759.

“May God bless you and continue to bless our church at Charlotte Center and the people who have kept it alive for over 170 years. You’re never a stranger, not even once at the Charlotte Center United Methodist Church. The church that is small enough to know you and large enough to serve you,” said Bonnie Larkin, with Charlotte Center United Methodist.

Dan Pavlock, who is co-pastor of the church, along with his wife Olivia, is thankful for the church and its people.

“As I stand in front of this church, I feel passion and love for our Lord Jesus. I feel a community that has been built for years — 170 years exactly. My wife and I have led this church for a few months. The Lord has guided us, supported us, and equipped us to be leaders. I can only imagine what this church has been through for 170 years. How many prayers have been prayed, how many blessings have been blessed. This church has endured and ever so changing world through the years. Through all of this, God has provided to the people of Charlotte Center United Methodist Church. He has instilled in them a sense to fear none, have hope, be courageous, be strong in faith, and to love your neighbor. We give thanks to the Lord, may we all be blessed for many more years to come.

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