Our Church History

Some interesting historical notes on Calcium Community Church adopted from a 1989 work titled, ‘Jefferson County’ by Edgar Emerson.

“The Union Church at Sanford’s Corners (now called Calcium) was built in 1853 at the joint expense of the Methodist Episcopal, Christian and Universalist denominations in the vicinity. Each had an organized society of fair membership, though neither at any time a resident pastor. M. E. preaching is supplied from Felts Mills, and Universalist from Watertown, while the Christian sect is so small that their services are rarely held.”

Older records of the same source (Jefferson County, 1878), note that the Methodist congregation was in existance prior to 1828, and the Christian Church was organized March 12, 1823. Though old records are scant, it is interesting to notice the ability of very theologically disparate groups to cooperate in order to accomplish the work of the Kingdom of God. And although the groups were small at the time of the initial building endeavor of 1852-3, by 1878, the record indicates the Christian Church had grown strong and the work of the Methodists was growing.

Today, we no longer identify as separate groups, but choose to call ourselves the Calcium Community Church. We welcome people of different backgrounds to worship with us and work with us, proclaiming "His Kingdom is more important than our kingdoms." We are truly a united church, with a strong desire to bless our community, each other, and especially our Lord.

Additional historical excerpts and notes for Calcium Community Church from various sources:
The following accounts, some taken from local history books, tell the earliest history of the church.

Excerpts From ‘History of Jefferson County’ (L. H. Everts & C., 1878)
regarding t
he M. E. Church at Sanford’s Corners

“A Methodist class has existed at this place for more than half a century; Sanford’s Corners having been one of the oldest preaching places on LeRay circuit and the location of its first parsonage. In 1847 and 1849 efforts were made to remove the location of the parsonage to Black River Village; that place having given name to the circuit and become its geographical center, but several years elapsed before this object was accomplished. The removal took place in 1876.”

“The church at Sanford’s now numbers 49 full members and 30 probationers. The present minister in charge is Rev. W. M. Holbrook. Their place of worship is the Union Church edifice at the Corners. In the early days, before this was erected, the worshippers met in the Jewett school-house. This church has a flourishing Sabbath-school, under the superintendency of Charles Ryder. Its numbers are given in the history of the Black River circuit, with the town of Rutland.”

“The Union Church edifice at Sanford’s Corners was erected by a union composed of the Universalist, Methodist, and Christian societies, each owing a quarter interest, and certain liberal-spirited citizens of the vicinity, who furnished the remainder of the necessary funds, and held the other one-fourth interest. The edifice was dedicated in 1853, jointly by the three denominations, in order as follows: First, at 10 A.M., sermon by Rev. Austin, of the Universalists; second, at 1 P.M., sermon by Rev. I. Bingham, for the Methodists; and at 4 P.M., by Rev. Mr. Tucker, of the Christian church. The house has since been used by the above-named congregations as a place of worship.”

“The Christian church in LeRay was organized March 12, 1823. Among its earliest members are found the names of Elder Eli Denio, Edmund Allen, Elisha Allen, Ebenezer Dunten, Fayette Herrick, James Rogers, and others, well known in this part of the county. The church is now in a prosperous condition. Its place of worship is the Union church at Sanford’s Corners, and the present pastor is Rev. H. Pierce.”

From ‘Jefferson County’ – Edgar Emerson – 1989
“The Union Church at Sanford’s Corners was built in 1853 at the joint expense of the Methodist Episcopal, Christian and Universalist denominations in the vicinity. Each had an organized society of fair membership, though neither at any time a resident pastor. M. E. preaching is supplied from Felts Mills, and Universalist from Watertown, while the Christian sect is so small that their services are rarely held.”

Transcript of Meeting LeRay February 28th 1852

    At an adjourned meeting this day (were) called:
    On motion of the meeting Ebeneazre Woodard was appointed chairman and J. F. Fuller secretary.
    On motion of the meeting that we raise four hundred dollars in addition to the amount now raised by the subscription if it can be raised.
    On motion of the meeting that we organize and choose a committee to superintend the building of said church.
    On motion of the meeting that George R. Earl, Edward Winslow and Thomas Dunten were duly appointed as the building committee and that the building committee have the power to purchase the land to build the meeting house and sheds and use the money already subscribed and what is to be raised to the best of their ability.
    On motion of the meeting that the trustees have the power to call a meeting at any time by giving written notices at the three most conspicuous places to report progress.
    On motion of the meeting that the trustees of this church shall have five per cent for collecting all moneys that is not paid to them without the trouble of traveling for it.

Transcript of Meeting Dated LeRay May 10th 1853
    Notice being duly given to the inhabitants of Sanfords Corners in the Town of LeRay to meet at said corners to elect trustees to hold church property, the church to be deeded to the trustees and their successors in office, the Church to be a Union Church held by three societies namely Universalist, Episcopal Methodist and Christian, each society to occupy it one fourth of the time.
    Meeting called to order. Winchester Jewett was chosen chairman, Charles G. Rider secretary. Resolved that George R. Earl, Edward Winslow, Thomas Dunten be the trustees for said church. George R. Earl – for one year; Edward Winslow – for two years; Thomas Dunten – for three years. Resolved that this meeting be adjourned for one year from date.

Transcript of Warranty Deed For Calcium Community Church

(Recorded on the Fifth day of December 1855 Jefferson County Clerk’s Office)

        First Page: State of New York, Jefferson County, -- on this ninth day of May in the year 1854 before me the subscriber, personally appeared Charles G. Rider and Mariette his wife to me known to be the same persons described in, and who executed the within instrument, who severally acknowledged that they executed the same; and the said Mariette Rider on a private examination by me, apart from her said husband, acknowledged that she executed the same freely, and without any fear or compulsion of her said husband.
Signed by Samuel L. Mott Justice of the Peace

        Second Page: This indenture, made this tenth day of May in the year of our Lord 1853 between Charles G. Rider and Mariette his wife of LeRay in the County of Jefferson and State of New York, parties of the first part, and George R. Earll, Edward Winslow and Thomas Duntent of the same place, parties of the second part.

    Witnesseth, that the said parties of the first part, in consideration of the sum of fifty dollars and other good and valuable considerations to them duly paid have sold, and by these presents, do grant and convey to the said parties of the second part, all that tract or parcel of land, situate in the town of LeRay aforesaid bounded as follows vis, beginning at a red cedar stake in the southwest corner of the burying ground lot, in the center of the corner of the highway leading from the Jewett schoolhouse to Watertown and runs thence along the center of the road south 31 ½ west three chains thirteen links to John Blades northwest corner, thence south 43 east one chain seventy-one links along said Blades noth (sic) line to a red cedar stake, thence north 40 ½ east three chains sixty-two links to the center of the road leading from Chalres Riders to the Jewett Schoolhouse, thence along the center of said road north 44 west one chain sixty-four links to the south line of the burying ground lot to a hub in said line in the road, thence north 88 west eighty-two links to the place of beginning containing 67/100 of an acre of land, as surveyed May 8, 1852 by W. E. E—her, with the appurtenances and all and singular all the estate, title and interest therein of the said parties of the first part, upon the express trust for the uses nevertheless hereinafter limited, described and declared as follows to with, to be held for the joint use and occupation of the three religious societes (sic) or denominations called the Universalist, Methodist, and Christian as a meeting house lot which said societies have upon the Union principle erected a church edifice upon such lot of land, and said church or lot is to be used possessed and enjoyed by said respective societies each one fourth part of the time as a house of public and religious worship, the particular portion of time or days which each is to occupy said house is to be designated and appointed at the commencement of each and every year for the then current year and the other fourth part of the time said house is to be used by any other Christian denomination of religious worship, and is to be free for use on all occasions for funeral services.

    And the said parties of the first part for themselves their heirs, executors and administrators do hereby covenant and agree to and with the said parties of the second part that at the time of the ensealing and delivery of these presents they are the lawful owners and are well seized of the premises above conveyed free and clear from all incumbrance, except the interest in said house of worship constructed the same and that the premises thus conveyed, in the quiet and peaceable possession of the said parties of the second part, they will forever warrant and defend against any person whomsoever, lawfully claiming the same of any party thereof.
In witness whereof, the parties of the first part have hereunto set their hands and seals the day and year first above written.


1920 – 1922 Rev. C. N. Thomas
1923 – 1927 Rev. R. G. English
1927 – 1930 Rev. L. A. Duvall
1937 – 1940 Rev. E. E. Eaton
(the church was closed from 1940-1955)
1955 - Aug. 1960 Rev. Edward VanWicklin
Oct. 1960 – June 1971 Rev. Richard Prue
Aug. 1971 – April 1972 Rev. Gary Gourley (Village Missions)
June 1972 – May 1979 Rev. Gerald Sever, Jr. (Village Missions)
Aug. 1979 – Aug. 1986 Rev. Jeffrey E. Durham
Nov. 1986 – Jan. 1990 Rev. Chris A. Lonneville
May 1990 – May 1991 Rev. Edwin W. Coddington (MAL/ABC)
May 1991 – July 1991 Rev. Dorothy Darneille (MAL/ABC)
July 1991 – October 1998 Rev. John A. Henry, Jr.
Nov. 1998 – October 2004 Rev. James Mulligan III
Oct. 2004 – April 2006 Rev. Cathy Hamilton (MAL/ABC)
May 2006 – October 2007 Rev. Linda Foody (Interim/ABC)
Oct. 2007 – May 2013 Rev. Mark White
Feb. 2018 - present Rev. Milton M. LaSalle

A couple of interesting items found in doing research
From Watertown Daily Times 'Years Ago' Columns:

    11/19/1877 – “The organ in the Sanford’s Corners Church, which has so long been quiet by order of 'committee', was opened yesterday by Mr. Chas. Ryder, who caused it to send forth glad notes of harmonized melody, and awakened the echoes of the old church in such a manner that it would have made that 'committee' if he had been there, stand up and howl.”
    10/3/1937 – Copper ball and standard made for steeple: 12 # copper - $4.20, 2 # solder - $1.20, labor - $8.15.
    When Rev. Van Wicklin came in 1955 the church had been closed for a number of years. During his tenure the church became quite active with a well attended morning service and Sunday School, and an active youth group. To the best of memory, there was no official church membership at that time. Rev. Richard Prue was pastor from October 1960 through June 1971. We were his second church, his main church being the Black River Baptist Church. During this time the church discussed incorporating, adopted Ten Articles of Faith, and 17 people joined the church as charter members. The largest attendance for the first quarter of 1965 was 52.
    In 1966 the outside of the church was painted and the steeple lit, the vestibule was painted and a rug was installed in the sanctuary. In October 1967 a check was received from the Indian River Central School District for $2,579 from the sale of the school house. The church purchased Modern English Bibles for each voter in the school district.
    By a special meeting February 17, 1969 with 51% of membership present, a unanimous vote was put forth to incorporate the group and call it Calcium Community Church with existing constitution and by-laws to continue. Officers were elected for the corporation.
    At Rev. Prue’s leaving in 1971, it was decided that we should have a full-time pastor. Because our financial condition was not adequate to support a full-time pastor, a decision was made to go with Stonecroft’s Village Missions program.
    Their requirements were that a parsonage be available; that we pay what we were able toward a salary; and they would supplement the salary until we could be self-supporting. A trailer was purchased in July of 1971 for a parsonage and in August 1971 Rev. Gourley arrived.

During the years with Village Missions:
    November 4, 1973 an ordination service was held for Rev. Gerald Sever, Jr.; in July 1974 new sidewalks were put in. A new side entry way was added; the day of February 1, 1976 was the first service in the newly remodeled sanctuary of the church. Service of dedication was February 15, 1976 with 38 people present.
    October 1976 the church steeple was taken down due to unsafe conditions; May 27, 1977 the new steeple was put on the church, August 1977 the church was painted outside; in December 1978 the church was given three properties by an anonymous donor – these three properties formed the beginning of the investment fund and committee that we had for several years.
    The church was served by Village Missions until May 1979. When the pastor left in 1979, we had been a self-supporting church for a few years and a decision was made that we could independently find and support a full-time pastor. On February 5, 1980 the original church deed was set aside and the incorporated Calcium Community Church gained clear title to the property. As an independent church our first seven years went along without too many problems, although we knew when it came to medical insurance and pension plans we were lacking.
    During the pastorate of Jeffrey Durham the church grew spiritually, and the following items are of note: new parsonage purchased in 1980; fellowship hall basement built with dedication on November 1, 1982; Pastor Durham’s ordination; church building sided; new organ purchased, baptistry purchased; a very vital youth group was organized.
    When Pastor Durham left in 1986, Chris Lonneville was hired. Physical improvements continued with the installation of the baptistry; the addition of a garage; and the paving of the parking area. During this time some of the drawbacks of independency began to become evident. This experience led us to really assess our situation and in that assessment we found ourselves lacking.
    To better carry on the Lord’s work, to give people a sense of continuity, to give future pastors an adequate, structured benefits package, and a support group, the decision was made to affiliate with American Baptist Churches if they would consider having us. In November 1990 we became affiliated with ABC/USA.
    We had two pastors through the MAL program, and on July 15, 1991, Rev. John A. Henry, Jr. became our full-time pastor.
We had other pastors through our ABC affiliation. In 2007 Mark White became pastor and his goal was to prepare us to be an ‘elder-led church’. When he left in May 2013 the pastoral duties were taken over by the laity.  In 2017 it became evident that this form of leadership was not sufficient to meet the needs of the membership or to provide the outreach that we needed in the community.  We continued this form of leadership until February 4, 2018, when we hired Milton M. LaSalle as an interim pastor.  A Pastoral Search Committee was formed about that time and will work with ABC/NYS to find a permanent Pastor.
    On February 4, 2007 the roof on the rear addition to the building collapsed from snow weight.  That portion of the building was demolished and a new section was constructed. Some mishaps turn out to be blessings in disguise and we gained a much more usable space and more room without having to change the foundation footprint of the building.
    During our ‘elder-led years’ we tried to use our resources to improve the physical facility.  We disposed of the parsonage, paved and expanded the parking lot; the municipal water line went through and we no longer have to maintain our own well; we have updated technology; and improved the kitchen.

----end of History as available April 2018----

Calcium Community Church, 26816 NYS Route 342, Calcium NY 13616 - - Phone (315) 788-3823