Chapter 3

Uniting the Churches

In 1964, a significant new venture in interchurch co-operation was taking shape in the St. Lawrence County village of Madrid.  The following agreement was made that “The Congregational and Methodist Churches of Madrid have agreed to share a minister by a resolution passed on May 24th at the Congregational Church and May 28th at the Methodist Church.”[1]  It was agreed, that the first appointment would come from the Methodist Church and subsequent ministers could be from either denomination, pending approval of the other denomination.  The minister would serve both churches and the community.  The churches held their separated worship services and agreed to combine services during the summer.  Each church was responsible for its part of the salary and provided compensation for the minister’s parsonage.  All these components were agreed to by the governing bodies of each church.

The Rev. William A. Masters was named as the first minister to the cooperating Methodist and Congregational churches.  A parish council coordinated and guided the co-operative effort of the two churches and served as a pastoral relations committee.  By this plan, while there was no “union” or “federation” of the two congregations, there was a genuine working unity.[2]  He continued in this position until May of 1967. 

The Rev. John Perl, who was chosen to be pastor of the Protestant churches here, will begin his new duties on Sunday, Feb. 4, 1968.  The Rev. Mr. Perl was previously pastor of the Freiden’s United Church of Christ in Syracuse.[3]  He was the first Congregational minister to service both churches.  He was in Madrid until 1970 when he was called to Greenwich, Ohio.  The church’s youth groups began to meet together during this time.

The Rev. Calvin Zimmer was our next pastor.  He served the church from 1970 to 1972, just prior to the merger of the two churches.  During this time, Rev. Zimmer also worked as an Associate Professor of Sociology at SUNY Canton.  He had much influence in the decision to merge.

According to recruiting information “the unification began in 1964- voting to share a Pastor with two separates services then later uniting to one service.  Since that time the Youth Group, Men’s Club and Women’s Groups of each denomination joined together as one.  The final union of the two denominations came in January 1973.  For the past 2 1/2 years, the Church has carried on with a Sunday morning Pastor.”[4]  In the prospectus, all aspects of the church were mentioned, from the choir to a newly renovated parsonage. 

[1] Articles of Agreement, Madrid, New York, June 12, 1964.

[2] Massena Observer, Massena, NY, Thursday, June 25, 1964, Vol. 73, No. 5302, p. 7.

[3] Courier-Freeman, Potsdam, NY, Thursday, February 8, 1968,Vol. 117, No. 42,  p. 7.

[4] Prospectus United Protestant Church, Madrid, NY