Montgomery County

Focus on History: Methodists to observe church building’s 40th

Methodists will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the consecration of their church building on Golf

Methodists will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the consecration of their church building on Golf Course Road in the town of Amsterdam this month. The celebration will take place during the 10 a.m. service on Sunday, Sept. 9.

According to church historian Sylvia Zierak, three churches — First Methodist on Division Street, Forest Avenue Methodist and Grace Methodist of Fort Johnson — formed the Amsterdam United Methodist Church in 1967.

The combined congregations began using the imposing First Methodist building, constructed in 1883 at 38 Division St.. A new chapel was added on the first floor. The Dempster Chapel was named in honor of James Dempster, the first Methodist preacher to evangelize in the Mohawk Valley in the 1700s. The local church still has a Bible used by Dempster

Zierak wrote, “The new United Methodist Church was looking forward when suddenly Urban Renewal decided our church was going to be torn down as part of the grand plan for Amsterdam.”

At about the same time, a fourth congregation — Evangelical United Brethren on Elizabeth Street — joined Amsterdam United Methodist.

Zierak wrote, “With nowhere to go it was decided to build a new church. With trustees’ approval a building committee was formed and, spearheaded by Reverend Grover Jay, plans went forward.” The building committee was chaired by Maurice W. Richardson and Ward J. Hinkle.

Land was purchased on Golf Course Road. The building committee chose what Zierak called “a very modern design” for the new building. The architect was Keith S. MacLaughlin of Charles A, Schade Associates. The abstract stained-glass window was designed by Jacques Duval.

Architect MacLaughlin wrote, “The rather steep slope of the site from east to west suggested the upsweep roof form growing out of the hill.”

Ground was broken in June 1971. The congregation began using the new building on June 24, 1972. For the first service, children wrote their names on pieces of paper to be put inside the cornerstone. New York Area Methodist Bishop W. Ralph Ward, Jr. joined Albany District Superintendent Rowland S. Conklin and Pastor Jay for the consecration service that September.

Rev. Jay wrote, “I am proud and happy to be part of this Adventure of Faith.”

The Division Street church building was torn down by December 1972 and ground was broken for a Masonic Temple, completed in 1974.

Also in 1974, a dedication service was held for the church and parsonage on Golf Course Road. According to the program, both buildings cost a total of $649,300. The church had received $302,500 from the urban renewal agency. Pledges, memorials and other fund raising provided most of the rest of the money.

In 1977 an addition was built at the rear of the church. The church roof had to be replaced some years after construction as the roof’s low point toward the rear of the structure led to drainage issues.

My parents, Clarence and Julia Cudmore, met at Amsterdam’s East Main Street Methodist Church at the intersection with Vrooman Avenue. That church closed shortly after World War II, becoming first Kuk’s Furniture House then in the 1980s a mental health facility for St. Mary’s Hospital. Today it is the city’s new arts center.

My parents and my sister Arlene Cudmore were among those who made the transition from Division Street to the Golf Course Road United Methodist Church. They were great fans of Rev. Jay.

Some of my oldest and best friends are Methodists, people I’ve always admired for their commitment to serving others in need.

“The church has taught us at least to try to do one Christian deed a day,” wrote Don and Eileen MacVean of Amsterdam United Methodist.

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