Special to The Chronicle-Express

St. Mark's Episcopal

At St. Mark’s, we are on our way to a new chapter. Sooner or later, and we hope sooner, we will have a new rector, and there will be different ways of doing things, perhaps tweaks, perhaps sea changes. There will be challenges – and joys, as well. It is often helpful to look back before going forward – to see what has happened in the past that can help us in the future. And do we have a past!

It all started in the late 1820s when according to an 1826 newspaper, “The Episcopalians met pursuant to notice on …January 3, 1826 and organized the church of St. Marks…” (from Linda Jackson’s Aspiring Christians: Histories of Yates County Churches).

For the next dozen years, members met at private houses and later, at the Masonic Hall on Court Street in Penn Yan. In 1837, St. Mark’s was incorporated as a parish and two years later, in 1839, a church was built at what is now 319 Main St.

A side note tells you something about this village back then: No churches were built here until 30 years after Penn Yan was first settled.  It was said that “Penn Yan was at one time one of the no God towns of the west.”  And I must add that despite the dearth of churches, there was no shortage of taverns … However, during the 1820s and '30s churches were built, including Presbyterian, Methodist, and Baptists - and St. Mark’s.

St. Mark’s is mentioned occasionally in the local newspapers, quite often to announce the departure of a rector and not as often, the arrival of a new one.

What happened in the late 1860s and early 1870s though, was much more dramatic. A hint of what was to come was printed in the Penn Yan Express in February of 1868: “We understand that the rector of St. Mark’s church in the village will deliver a free lecture at that Church on Sunday evening next... The subject of the lecture will be ‘Is there any danger of a division of the Episcopal Church?’ This will be, no doubt, a very interesting subject to discuss and the church will probably be well filled on that occasion.”

St. Mark's Episcopal's current church edifice was begun at the corner of Main and Clinton streets in Penn Yan after a schism over slavery split the congregation at the time of the Civil War.

Due to what was apparently a difference of opinion on the subject of slavery, a large number of St. Mark’s members withdrew from the church and established a new church called Grace Church. It lasted long enough to purchase land on the corner of Main and Clinton streets and start building the foundation of a church – but that congregation sputtered out. The original St. Mark’s wasn’t doing well either, but by 1875, members of both churches were again attending the same service and there was, praise the Lord, a reorganization.

The newspaper accounts do not tell us exactly what the issues were that split the church, nor which side was which, nor exactly what happened to bring them together. But soon they were all busy raising money to demolish the old church and sell the lot it had stood on, and then build the new church on the foundation of the building that Grace Church had started.

The new St. Mark’s was consecrated on Thursday, Oct. 30, 1879 at 11 a.m.

Here’s a description from the Yates County Chronicle: “The day was bright and auspicious. Long before that hour, the little Church was filled to overflowing by the faithful flock, and their friends, who had labored for many weary, anxious days in various ways and by honorable and heroic endeavors to rear a temple of worship to the Living God, and whose happy faces attested the fact that their prayers had been answered; that the achievement of the glorious work was accomplished, and that their religious house was completed, paid for, and the solemn act of consecration was at hand.”

Imagine the time and work it took to heal our parish and to build our church! Think of the changes they had to absorb and live with. At St. Mark’s, we remember and honor the memory of all the individuals who made St. Mark’s what it is today: reMARKable. Please join us any Sunday at 9 a.m. to see what our future will bring.

Milo Center Methodist

Jesus promised us that after He died, rose again and ascended to Heaven that God would send the Holy Spirit to live inside His people. This is said to be Pentecost Sunday, the 50th day after Easter. Pastor Kim reminded us through her children's time and our message that the Holy Spirit is all around us. It is in the wind, the water even the birds and fire too. Jesus encourages us to feel the Holy Spirit to better hear one another and untangle the differences we have allowed to divide us. Pentecost is to be thankful for the bounties in our lives and the togetherness that we have in our church family, in worship with each other around the Living Word and the winds of the Spirit. Each of us with a soul filled with His word.

Prayers of healing for Landon Travis, Darla Conklin, all suffering from the allergies of the season, and hurting from the gun violence throughout the country. Please hear the silent prayers held on our hearts and lift those up who we hold dear.

Congratulations to Evelyn Little, great job at solo fest. Happy Birthday to Wilma Freeman and Cheryl Kerrick. Happy anniversary to Damon & Kerry Brennan, Judson & Paulina Reid, and David & Susan Andersen. 

Bluff Point Methodist

They’re back! We welcome the last of our returning snowbirds from Florida, Dick and Leah Dibble, back to our flock at BPUMC!

Pentecost Sunday — the descent of the Holy Spirit seven Sundays after Easter, in the rush of the wind and tongues of flame of fire.  We celebrate this as the time the Holy Spirit indwells within us.  We mark this by wearing red to remember the day.

Our scripture lesson was based on Acts 12: 1-17. This was read by Meridith Nielsen.  This passage looked at the Last Supper which may have been held at the home of Mary, the mother of Mark. This Mark was said to have been a good friend of Peter’s. This Mary was said to be a wealthy widow in Jerusalem. According to Pastor Sandi, Jesus felt honored for it to be held there.  A servant named Rhoda answered the door.  In this home there was prayer, comfort, hospitality and discipleship.  Pastor Sandi asked us if our home was inviting with the love of Jesus. Mary prayed for Jesus in this home, and had kind words.  Do we show grace in doing things with love?

Over 20 people attended the celebration of life for Ed Head this past Saturday.  It was good to see Sally and all the family members, many who have worshiped with us in the past. 

Summer is upon us, and we are planning to return to some outdoor social events. Who does not like an ice cream social, especially if the ice cream is put over a tasty brownie?Also remember, kids will be out of school soon.  Be careful of them out on their bikes and playing near the roads. 

Penn Yan First Baptist

Our Board of Trustees will offer a chicken barbecue on Saturday, June 18 beginning at 11 a.m. at Lyons National Bank. Cost: $12 for 1/2 chicken, potatoes, salad and roll.

To close out the month of June our pulpit supply will be Dale Wakley on June 19, and Rev. Don Lawrence on June 26. Vacation Bible School begins the week of June 27 and closes on July 1. Register your children online at

The women of FBC had a "sweet" time last Tuesday at a gathering. It was very relaxing and a special time to just visit without having to do business. About 16 ladies came and enjoyed cookies and other sweets. Thank you to Judi Scheel for hosting this special evening.

Make plans to come to the Summer Concerts in the park early this year and purchase fresh grilled hot dogs and hamburgers as your dinner before the concerts. Cold drinks and chips will be available for purchase also. 

First Presbyterian 

With Father’s Day approaching, it was nice to hear that the FPC Men’s Group reconvened on June 4, at 8 a.m., for breakfast at the Wagner. They are resuming their monthly Saturday Breakfast Group after a long absence. The Breakfast Group provides an opportunity for the guys to catch up and share information about church needs and discuss ways to help within FPC or the surrounding community. It is a time of friendship and sometimes a chance to make new friends, when guests join them. In most churches, men come from very diverse work backgrounds and with a rich variety of life experiences. There is always something new to learn and many points of view to consider at this gathering. FPC’s Men’s Breakfast Group begins with a prayer of thanks. Some months, they choose to conduct a Bible Study session after breakfast. Other months, their discussion topics may include; world/community events, movie reviews, sports, hobbies or outdoor activities. Personal joys or concerns are always shared and they end breakfast with a joke or two. Here was one of this month’s jokes: “If I dress like a cowboy, does that mean I am Ranch Dressing?

In many churches the men don’t tend to get as much press as the women because their main activities often occur behind the scenes. Outside of the weekly church service, some are involved on various committees and attend monthly meetings or they are called into action to set-up for an event or work party. At FPC, our guys have scheduled “Saturday Work Days” usually following their monthly breakfasts. These work days are meant to handle repairs or take on major maintenance projects. It generally involves some type of heavy equipment, power tools or ladders. There is also lifting, lugging, trimming FPC’s back lot and gully, or occasionally eradicating critters too close to the building. There is no time for socialization on the agenda! Recently they installed the new banners on the front columns of FPC and prepared our parking lot for the enormous chalk drawing event that took place in late May. For that event, FPC extends a special shout out to Bob Gillespie for his vision/guidance of the artwork and Eric Baxter for taking drone photos, one is included today. Currently the Trustees are working on replacing all the overhead fluorescent light fixtures within the church and resolving a drainage issue behind FPC’s back driveway.

FPC would be remiss if we did not also acknowledge another very special Dad in our midst. Chuck Georgia has been our long time Custodian, who is rarely seen or heard during normal open-door hours. However evidence of his hard work can be seen throughout our building each week, as it is always spotless on Sunday mornings and before every church event. Thanks for all you do Chuck!

So this coming Sunday FPC wants to take a moment to honor and pay homage to the fathers and/or those dedicated men who help make our church run smoothly and our events be so successful. As Deniece Williams sang in 1984, “Let’s Hear It For The Boy(s).”