Waterloo’s First Presbyterian Church receives donation

For nearly 200 years, the twin-spired brick church at 42 East Main Street has been a community gathering place and a sanctuary for those seeking fellowship, counseling and support.Now the First Presbyterian Church congregation is conducting a capital campaign to restore and preserve the church for future generations. Launched in 2013, “Preserving our Past, Embracing Our Future” aims to raise $75,000 by 2016 and $150,000 by 2019.That will secure the historic church’s future in the heart of the village. And it will insure that the Friday free lunches, Harmony food pantry, Boy Scout meetings, Alcoholic Anonymous counseling sessions, Phi Beta Psi cancer society gatherings, TOPS weight loss program and other programs will continue at the church. It will provide support for Betsy’s Playroom, a program started by the women of the church for children whose families visit inmates at Five Points Prison. An average of 150 people a week, not affiliated with the church, use the building for meetings or programs. said Rev. Sarah West.Rev. Sarah West with sign used by the church prior to 1910.Rev. West is the church’s 19th pastor, serving the 93-member congregation since 2007. First Presbyterian Church was founded in 1817. By 1821, the first minister, Aaron Lane was called to pastor the growing congregation that was meeting in a white wooden church. He served for 14 years. The current brick building was erected in 1850, a chapel was joined to the main sanctuary on the east side in 1880, and memorial windows by Tiffany were installed in 1909. Under Rev. Marcy Punnett, who served from 1944-1964, the church grew both physically and in membership, reaching an average congregation of 675 with vibrant Sunday school and youth programs. .An Austin organ was installed in 1950 for the church’s centennial.Rev. West said the current capital campaign has raised $69,520 in pledges and donations, and is ahead of schedule. That includes a $1,500 matching grant from the New York Landmarks Conservancy’s Sacred Sites Program to help fund a scope-of-work study by Crawford-Stearns of Syracuse. The study has been completed and masonry repair is under way by Heritage Masonry of Syracuse.In April, the church received a second Sacred Sites matching grant for $10,000. And Rev. West was delighted and surprised when members of the Sessler family stepped forward during a Seneca County Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours gathering to present the church a check for $5,000 from the Sessler companies and family.

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