A BRIEF HISTORY OF FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, MARCELLUS
Shortly after the settlement of the Village of Marcellus in 1794, settlers began worshiping together in Deacon Samuel Rice’s Tavern. On October 13, 1801, eighteen early Marcellus pioneers formally established our church.
In 1801 Thomas Jefferson was president of the United States, the population of the young country was just five million, and the village of Marcellus had less than nine dwellings!
Our early worshipers held services in Deacon Rice’s Tavern (on the site of the present St. Francis Church). Since most of the founders were of Congregational or Presbyterian stock, the Church was organized along those lines.
WE MADE IT FORMAL
In 1807, the Congregation adopted fifteen Articles of Faith and a Covenant, became affiliated with the Synod of Albany of the Presbyterian Church and was accepted by General Assembly the following year. From that time to this, the Church has been Presbyterian. Our church was incorporated as the Eastern Religious Society, a name which lasted until 1951 when it was officially changed to the First Presbyterian Church of Marcellus.
In 1803, a house of worship was erected which was the first church edifice built in Onondaga County. At that time, it was said to be the only church edifice between New Hartford and the Pacific Ocean! The present building was constructed in 1851 and dedicated on the 50th Anniversary of the Congregation. An addition, which was dedicated in 1961, provided 14 more classrooms, a Fellowship Hall and new kitchen facilities. Our present building was dedicated on October 13, 1851, 50 years after our founding.
Reverend Levi Parsons served the congregation for the better part of thirty years during its formative period. Early mission interest reached a high point when the Reverend Doctor Daniel Bradley, a member and son of one of the founders, went to Siam (Thailand) where he served as a medical missionary and introduced the Christian faith to that country.
It was in 1956 that a young telephone engineer and active layman named Keith Shinaman was called by the congregation to serve as its minister. Following a three year stint at Colgate Rochester Divinity School, during which he maintained his service to the Marcellus church, Reverend Shinaman was formally ordained on May 24, 1959. There can be no understanding of the vigor and vitality of our congregation without an acknowledgment and appreciation of the tremendous influence and leadership of Keith Shinaman during his thirty plus years of service.
A HISTORY OF OUR PROGRAMS
The Marcellus Presbyterian Church constantly seeks to serve the Lord by following the examples of His son, Jesus Christ. To that end the church is involved in a wide range of mission projects and special activities.
- Our church consistently ranks high in giving to mission projects sponsored by the larger church.
- Our church’s members were instrumental in establishing a child care center to serve area families. Marcellus Child Care Center (MCCC) is housed in the lower level of our building and is now independent of the church.
- In response to the real problems of hunger in our community, an ecumenical year round food pantry was established in the lower level of our church with active participation by all of the churches in Marcellus.
- In addition, we currently provide meals several times a year to homeless persons at the Samaritan Center in downtown Syracuse.
The church sponsors a dynamic music ministry, a church school program for all ages, study groups, mission circles, and an assortment of youth activities.
Our members are involved in all levels of Presbyterian government through service on various Presbytery, Synod, and General Assembly committees.
Mission activities are more likely than not initiated by our members who have an uncanny knack for stimulating interest, gathering support, and following through to the successful completion of the project.
And what of the years ahead? What once seemed so distant is now so close. Traditional “mainline” churches face challenges from every sector.
Our church has endured and met the challenges of each generation. Since 1801 our church has provided an opportunity to worship and serve God to all who seek the strength and comfort of His Word. We have strived to meet the needs of our members, the community and the world beyond. Our rich heritage inspires us to continue with renewed energy the ministry and mission which we have inherited.