First Universalist Church of Rochester
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member sagefemme
N 43° 09.235 W 077° 36.290
18T E 288210 N 4781201
Quick Description: Certainly not among the oldest church, but a celebrated one, and in continuous use by its original congregation. With no denominational category, I'm glad it qualifies under "This Old Church"!
Location: New York, United States
Date Posted: 12/24/2011 10:28:33 AM
Waymark Code: WMDCE0
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Marine Biologist
Views: 2

Long Description:
From the Church's homepage:

"Love is the doctrine of this church.
The quest for truth is its sacrament
and service is its prayer.
To dwell together in peace;
to seek knowledge in freedom;
to serve humanity in fellowship;
to the end that all souls shall grow into harmony
with the source and meaning of life;
thus do we covenant with each other and with All.

"Everyone is welcome at First Universalist Church of Rochester. Please join us for our Sunday Services and Drop-In Discussions." (visit link)

The Church's description of its congregational history:

"The gospel of Universalism had been proclaimed in the scruffy mill village of Rochesterville as early as 1819, but it took over a quarter-century and a small but determined succession of devoted leaders and followers to establish a permanent organization.

"A wave of religious revivals in upstate New York during the bleak 1830’s—which in 1950 would give rise to the designation “the Burned Over District—generated so much local opposition to Universalism that the Utica, NY editor of a denominational paper wrote in 1833, “How many times more, we would ask, is this unfortunate village destined to be scared over with the wildfires of … fanaticism? What have the citizens of Rochester done, that they should be singled out above all people on the face of the earth?”

"By the next decade those “wildfires” began to subside, and a phenomenal tenfold population growth resulting from commerce and traffic on the new Erie Canal quickly transformed Rochester from mud-hole to metropolis.

"In late 1845 the Universalist faithful, determined to establish a permanent presence in their thriving city, learned that a highly popular clergyman was to pass through Rochester on the train. They posted two of their leaders at the station to intercept him and successfully persuaded him to return and serve as their minister. In May of 1846, fifty-six believers joyfully signed a charter of incorporation, and the church they began building was dedicated, debt-free, the following year.

"By all accounts, the life of First Universalist to the end of the nineteenth century was highlighted by modest prosperity and increased tolerance in the larger community. In 1874 a Union Thanksgiving Service was established with Temple B’rith Kodesh and First Unitarian Church which has been observed continuously, with a constantly expanding interfaith outreach, to the present day...

In 1966 the shrinking congregation voted to sell their property and relocate. But four years later the plan fell through, leaving a number of remaining members financially and spiritually devastated. “Landmark Church on Death Row,” reported the Rochester Times-Union in 1971, as members—many with sorrow and a few with relief—began soliciting bids for its demolition." (visit link)

But the church did not die. A massive capital campaign was launched in 1979, raising $750,000 and the church lives on.

The Church's own description of its building and history:

"Our history in this location, at the corner of South Clinton Avenue and Court Street in Rochester, NY, started in January 1907, when First Universalist’s Board of Trustees received a stunning offer from a real estate developer who wanted to build a hotel where our then-church stood.

"The membership voted to accept this offer and move to our current location at the corner of South Clinton Avenue and Court Street.

"The church board hired Claude Bragdon, one of Rochester’s most respected architects, to design a new church. He used the nearly 1500 year-old Hagia Sophia Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, pictured in a drawing at right, as inspiration for his design.

"Bragdon incorporated several stained glass windows, including our beloved Sargent window, from our soon-to-be-demolished church. The Sargent window, named for its donor, is based on “The Good Shepherd” by Doré.

"The cornerstone of the new church – and our current building – was laid on September 15, 1907. Bragdon’s design included a second-floor gymnasium.

"The board contracted to purchase an organ from the Hope-Jones Organ Company in December 1907. The innovative design used electrical current combined with air to activate the pipes. This type of organ was quickly becoming popular in movie theaters in a time during the silent era.

"The dedication ceremony was a week-long event in October 1908, starting with a sermon by Rev. Grose titled “Our Inheritance.” Mark Twain, as a director of the Hope-Jones Organ Company, came to our church for a demonstration of the organ used to accompany a singer, which at that time was generally considered to be an unsuitable use of an organ.

"Even then, we liked to “push the envelope.”

"In 1937, the organ underwent a restoration. Murray Memorial Chimes, which allowed 25 cathedral chimes to be played from the keyboard, were added.

"The long-unused second floor gymnasium was renovated to create classrooms in 1959. A third floor was added." (visit link)

In 2002, the education wing was refinished, the Clara Barton Room remodeled, and a handicap accessibility ramp and lift elevator were installed.
Date the Church was built, dedicated or cornerstone laid: 9/15/1907

Age of Church building determined by?: Historical Society

If denomination of Church is not part of the name, please provide it here: Unitarian Universalist

If Church holds a weekly worship service and "all are welcome", please give the day of the week: Sunday

Indicate the time that the primary worship service is held. List only one: 8:00 AM

Street address of Church:
150 South Clinton Ave
Rochester, NY USA

Primary website for Church or Historic Church Building: [Web Link]

If Church is open to the public, please indicate hours: Not listed

Secondary Website for Church or Historic Church Building: Not listed

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