Much of the background of the United Church of Painted Post arrangement comes from the 1972 Hurricane Agnes flood that devastated our valley. Prior to the flood, the Presbyterian Church faced North Hamilton Street while around the corner, the Methodist Church faced Chemung Street. The two education buildings were adjacent to the respective churches. Shortly after the flood, the two Christian Education groups merged into one common program with teachers from both congregations serving the various classes.
The '72 flood damaged both Sanctuary buildings to such an extent that they had to be replaced. With the Christian Ed experience in mind, the question was posed, "Why two buildings? Can't we build just one new sanctuary to serve both congregations?" After much prayer and discussion, the idea was accepted. As part of the new arrangement, a third organization, the Painted Post Church Facilities Corporation, was formed to be the landlord of the buildings and grounds.
Each church had its own pastor and worship hour with the hours alternating year to year, i.e., Presbyterians at 10 AM and Methodists at 11:15 AM. this year; and Methodists at 10 AM with Presbyterians at 11:15 AM next year. The arrangement worked very well for many years (~30). With many joint activities: special worship services, dinners, work bees, etc., members of the two congregations came closer together.
Over time, a financial challenge faced each congregation in their ability to support a full-time Pastor. When the Presbyterian pastor left in 2005, the Presbyterian congregation formed a Presbyterian Information Committee to consider all the options for continuing as a viable congregation. The solution became obvious. People in both congregations liked Reverend Hubbard, the Methodist Pastor we had known for years. He was only part-time for the Methodists. After much discussion, it was agreed Rev. Hubbard would become the ½-time pastor for each congregation. He would conduct one Sunday Service of Worship including both congregations, but the two would stay independent.
In September 2008, Rev. Hubbard left and after a search of several months, we selected Rev. Kennedy as our Temporary Supply Pastor. In 2010 a desire to unite the two congregations resulted in forming the GEMS (God's Ecumenical Ministry Shared) committee, to investigate the options for merging the two congregations. After recommending federation, the GEMS committee wrote a new constitution and by-laws for the federated church. Both congregations accepted the new constitution and by-laws in May 2011. With the Federation of the two congregations into one, at our first combined Annual Meeting in January 2012, the congregation voted to approve Pastor Kennedy as our permanent pastor.