This accelerating rhythm continued until 1961. On Sunday, August 6, 1961, the usual worship service was held in the First Methodist Church sanctuary. It was the last service held in the 1894 church. On the night of August 10, 1961, the church building was entirely destroyed by fire. Yet faith was not dead. Phoenix-like, it stirred even that day.
Members organized searches of the ashes and debris. They discovered the safe, which had fallen into the basement. The records inside the safe were scorched around the edges, but essentially intact.
Homer Ludington searched through the debris until he unearthed a pair of bronze urns and Paul Driscoll, the custodian, found the 1877 church bell, cleaned it, and after nearly 100 years of service, it sits at the front entrance of our present church.
The Ecumenical and surrounding community organizations pitched in as well. Immaculate Conception offered to print our bulletins the next Sunday. Many churches offered facilities, as did the Chamber of Commerce and the Polish Home. The Polish Home facilities were used for our worship services for the next three years, while weekday activities were held in other churches.
The church office was set up in the former Singer Sewing Machine Store at 72 South First Street. A new parsonage was purchased at 91 Baldwin Road. Wesley Choir rehearsed at the Baptist Church, as did the Cherub Choir. The Women's Society met in the Minetto Methodist Church. The Adult Choir rehearsed at the State Street Church. Senior Youth Fellowship met in private homes, and congregational meetings to plan the Building Fund Canvass were held at the Presbyterian Church.
The Building and Site Committee recommended the ground south on Route 48 overlooking the Oswego River and in 1962 the site was approved. The following guidelines were paramount in considering the style and design of the new church:
1. The church must be functional in every respect.
2. First consideration shall be given to the youth of the church in considering overall requirements.
3. The church plan must look like a church in order to provide the proper religious atmosphere and feeling of reverence from both outside the church and within.
Groundbreaking ceremonies were held June 16, 1963, the cornerstone laying service followed on November 3, and the final step came on October 25, 1964, with a Service of Consecration held in the newly completed First Methodist Church of Fulton.
First United Methodist Church and the Christian Missionary Alliance made a historic exchange of buildings, and on September 14, 1986, this congregation moved to its present home on Curtis Street in Fulton. A Service of Dedication was held on November 23, 1986.
Throughout the years, for most of those attending, the corporate fellowship was probably more important than the changes in architecture and location of the places of worship. Certainly Rev. James B. Burwell, pastor from 1964-68 expressed this succinctly in his sermon of the day on “What is the Church?” by saying that, despite the changes in site, location, type of architecture, the church itself lives on, and will live on and outlast even those who believe in the vital pace of the church in the changing storms of life, and that are privileged to play a part in the ongoing mission of the church.
Our Present Day Church