Church in Stafford to celebrate 200th anniversary in October

Aug 16, 2017

The Morganville United Church of Christ in Stafford is celebrating its 200th anniversary this fall, inviting members of the community to take part in the festivities.

On Oct. 14, there will be a spaghetti dinner for the community and the 200th anniversary service will be on Oct. 22. The church is located at 8466 Morganville Road. 

“The service will go back 200 years,” Pastor James Morasco said. “We’re going to dress the part. We want to capture the time period.”

According to a history compiled by Grace Woodworth in 2003, on Oct. 20, 1817, Elders Levi Hathaway and Joseph Badger, traveling ministers, organized “The Church of God in Stafford, New York.” The church started off with 11 members, but grew to 50 in a couple months.

The church has around 70 members now. Morasco said the church is slowly growing.

“It’s a nice place to be,” Morasco said. “It’s very welcoming. People say when they come here that it’s a warm church. They feel the warmth from everybody.”

Marianne Garigen was baptized in 1952 at Morganville UCC and became a member 13 years later. Her mother was a member of the church.

“When I first started, [the church] was very active,” Garigen said. “Sunday School had 80 children. Back then, the church was your social network.”

She currently serves as the financial secretary, but has held many other positions with the church.

“I moved away for seven years and then moved back to the area,” Garigen said. “I’ve been here ever since. It’s a part of me.”

Her husband, Barry Garigen, has been a friend of the church for 45 years and recently became a member, but currently is the church moderator. He runs the quarterly and annual meetings, and serves as an ambassador for the church, speaking on behalf of the congregation.

“We got married in this church,” Barry said. “All our kids were baptized here, so it’s been a part of their lives since the beginning.”

Marianne said the future is looking better for the church, but she would like to see younger families join the church to keep it going.

“We would like to continue being a part of the community and reaching out,” Marianne said. “We want to let them know we are here and that anyone is welcome.”

The church organizes a food link once a month, serving hundreds of people. Barry said it is a way to reach out to the community.

“Anybody that needs it, gets it,” Barry said. “The volunteers from the church set up. People come through, sign in and they can help themselves to the provided food.”

Barry said people line up hours ahead of time and they are very thankful.

In celebration of 200 years, the congregation is attempting to perform 200 random acts of kindness by the end of the year. A member can do anything from welcoming a new neighbor, cook a meal for someone, or leave notes of encouragement on cars.

“It’s an opportunity to show the community that we’re here,” Morasco said.

The Morganville UCC has a Facebook page located here and Morasco said they’re currently working on a website.

After the 200th service, there will be a hymn sing at 2 p.m. with the organist, Carin Wade.  

“We have an outstanding organist who will be very entertaining for the hymn sing,” Barry said. “Music is a big part of our service here and she’s added to it.” 

By Maria Pericozzi, The Batavian

Category: Community