MARCY, NY (UTICA)
The Utica Pilgrim Holiness Church came into being as a result of the vision and efforts of two pastors in the Conference: Rev. Clifton Berg and Rev. 0. L. Fay. These two brethren came to Utica and started preaching on the streets. Four meetings were held nightly, each preaching twice and both singing in the four services. On one occasion the traffic was blocked because of the crowd attending the meeting. The two witnesses were hauled to the city police court and charged with violating a city ordinance requiring a license to conduct street meetings. Bro. Fay and Bro. Berg testified, sang and prayed until the officer in charge, with tears in his eyes, was glad to turn them loose. Shortly after, they were granted a permit to hold street meetings anywhere in the city. One of the fruits of the street meetings was the conversion of Bro. Jess Elmer who became a happy, enthusiastic, sacrificial child of God and a charter member of the church.
During this period, a place was rented on South St. and services were held there for a short time. Though the visible results were minimum, the overall effort was honored by God with souls getting saved.
This same year, 1936, a permanent place of worship was acquired. It was an old dwelling located at 803 John St., a house with many fireplaces and a secret passage which was used at one time to hide runaway slaves en route to Canada.
That same year, Rev. J. N. Jump came to shepherd the little flock. Like St. Paul of old who worked at his trade of tent making to supply his material needs, Bro. Jump plied his trade of upholstering to support himself while he preached the gospel. The old house at 803 John St. housed a chapel for worship, an apartment for Bro. and Sr. Jump and an upholstering shop.
According to the District Superintendent’s report in the 1937 Conference minutes, Utica had been organized into a regular Pilgrim Holiness Church that year. A regular report from Utica appears in the same minutes which states that the church was organized October 12, 1936. In searching the archives of the Utica church, we are impressed with the fact that these people were more interested in making history than recording it. According to their records, their first annual business meeting was held May 22, 1944. The first Church Board meeting was held at the close of this annual meeting. There must be some valid reason why there was no annual church meeting and no board meeting in the eight years between 1936 and 1944.
In 1939 the church moved from 803 John St. to 811 John St. Later, the place next to 811 John St. was purchased and the two buildings made into one. This building was used for over thirty years. Bro. Jump, a man of many abilities, worked long and diligently to make this an attractive and useful place of worship. Most of the work on and in the building was done by the members and friends of the church. Rev. Jump made the beautiful pulpit and altar rail. Bro. Greydon McCulley made the pulpit chairs, Some mortgaged their homes to pay for the building and the materials.
Rev. Jump served the Utica church until 1957, when he resigned to take up home missionary work in the Rochester, NY area.
Rev. William Thurston pastored the church in 1957 and 1958.
William F. McCulley took up the pastorate in 1959.
Like every true Vine of God’s planting, the Utica Church has had its share of opposition from Satan, but has always had that hard core of dedicated people that put the cause of God above everything else. One crisis might be worth mentioning.
At one time during the early days of the church, the work was brought to a virtual standstill because of a group of Pentecostals who were attending the meetings and endeavoring to influence the new converts the church was trying to help. Rev. Alvin Young had been engaged for revival effort who, when he arrived, took in the situation. He decided that the best strategy was to attack at once, which he did with a two-handed, double-edged sword. The field was soon cleared! The group got up and left in a body and never came back.
In the past thirty years, the area surrounding the church at 811 John St. has been deteriorating. Drunken brawls, foul language, sluggings, robberies, etc. are the order of the day. Some were afraid to attend church there and those who might linger after the congregation left were escorted to their cars for fear of attack. To try and work and win souls for the Lord in this neighborhood where sin is subsidized with taxpayers’ money was an almost hopeless task. After due consideration and prayer, it was decided to continue the war from the vantage ground of a more desirable location. A plot of ground consisting of 14 acres was purchased in the town of Marcy. It is ideally located and easily accessible from any direction. The old church at 811 John St. has been sold and we are now in the process of building. The parsonage is nearly completed and work on the church building is to start soon.
The outlook for the Utica Church is bright. We have a great field and a great God. The future is in His hands.
The Utica Pilgrim Holiness Church began as a result of people with a vision and continues because people have a vision.
In 1963 the church had a vision for home missions. A Sunday School family had a summer home in Wheelertown and expressed a desire that their children be in Sunday School. They talked to Rev. William F. McCulley about the possibility of an afternoon Sunday School. Bro. McCulley drove the 30 miles and canvassed the community to assess the amount of interest for a Sunday School. It seemed to be an open door. The first Sunday over 30 people from the area were crowded into a small cottage plus the people who came from the Utica Church. Our teachers got double mileage on their Sunday School lessons.
Interest continued, the cottage was too small so we got permission to use the Wheelertown School House with an old chunk stove for heat. Sunday afternoons would find part of the Utica congregation in Wheelertown for 2:00 Sunday School and at 3:00 we would have a Worship Service. We started Thursday night Prayer Meetings. What precious times we had there.
The second summer we held a tent meeting. The tent was pitched in Postol’s meadow. Satan tried to upset the meeting by blowing down the tent in a storm during a service, causing a bit of excitement. Next evening the tent was up and ready for
service. Rev. 0. L. Fay was the evangelist. We also had a Baptismal Service behind Postol’s in Little Black Creek. Many of the Utica people and the new converts from Wheelertown were baptized. Bro. 0. L. Fay assisted Bro. McCulley in the service.
Souls were saved out of the Wheelertown endeavor which lasted about six years. Sr. Lillian Postol was saved in a Spring Revival service. She was a loyal and dedicated member until her death, December 23, 1987. The community’s interest died out and those who had gotten saved began attending the Utica Church.
Home Mission interest was again shown when a tent was pitched on Rt. 49W in Rome on Grandma Brodock’s property. It was held in 1965 with Bro. Fred McCulley as the evangelist. Bro. Stanley Postol was saved in these meetings and lived a consistent Christian life, faithful to his church until his death, December 16, 1995.
These events took place before we moved from our church at 811 John St. The last service held in the church was a funeral service for Sr. Virginia Vanderpool, better known as “Jane,” or by the young people as “Aunt Virginia.” She lived down the street from the church and it was almost as if God didn't want her to make the move with us, so He took her home to Heaven January 30, 1971. It was the end of an era.
The church at 811 John St. was sold in late 1970. We held Sunday Morning Services at the YWCA and Sunday Evening Services and Wednesday Night Prayer Meetings in Bob and Joan Lake’s basement. When the parsonage was built we held services in the basement. Our church was built between 1972 and 1973. Our corner stone reads, “For the Glory of God 1972.”
Bro. and Sr. William F. McCulley faithfully served and loved us for 19 years, from 1957 to 1978. Those of us who had the privilege of being under their ministry were a blessed people.
Rev. Thomas Plew was our next pastor from 1978 to 1979. Then Rev. Rowan Fay accepted our call and moved the Fay family to Marcy. Bro. Fay came with a great vision for the Marcy Pilgrim Holiness Church. He got out into the community letting people know we were up here on the corner of Kennedy and Cavanaugh Roads.
In 1980, the Fays and families in the church felt a need of giving our children a Christian Education. Because of the sacrificial giving of those who believe in Christian Education, Marcy Pilgrim Academy was born and became a part of the “Pilgrim Ministries” in Marcy. Our first year was blessed with 11 students. We saw so many miracles happen with God providing for our school.
As our school grew we needed more space so an addition was built on the north end of our church to serve as a “Learning Center” and “all purpose room.” We also needed to hire a principal and needed a place to house him. We purchased a nice double-wide home and put it beyond the original parsonage. Mr. Ronald Coleman was our first official principal.
We are now in our 16th year and God is still continuing to bless this ministry. The vision for the lost did not end here. Under Bro. Fay’s leadership we began a bus ministry. We saw God work in wonderful ways to provide buses. The buses were taken into the City of Utica where we loaded them up with boys and girls and brought them to church to tell them about Jesus, a Savior, who loves them.
After our men about froze themselves, working outside in the frigid weather, it was decided to build a bus garage. What a blessing! We also use it for other activities.
The Marcy Church had two associate pastors during Bro. Fay’s tenure, Bro. Wesley Sanford and Bro. Philip Gant. Both were very active in our bus and inner city ministries.
Bro. Rowan Fay resigned in 1993 after fourteen years of fruitful ministry. We appreciate and love Bro. and Sr. Fay.
Rev. James Brewer came in July 1993 and served as pastor for two years.
Rev. Ronald Robison came in July 1995 and served as pastor for one year.
Rev. Wesley Sanford accepted the call to Marcy in 1996. He is presently serving as pastor of our church and Administrator of M. P. A. Bro. Sanford has a loving pastor’s heart. He is also involved in town issues speaking out against evil. He is getting around in the community being a blessing and inviting people to worship with us.
We thank God for Bro. and Sr. Sanford, and that God sent them to us. We feel God has great and wonderful things in store for us at Marcy if we remain faithful and trust Him. The fields are white and ready to harvest.