Summerville Presbyterian Church

4845 St. Paul Blvd.

Rochester, NY 14617


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Chronological History of Summerville Presbyterian Church

1875    David Copeland, a summer resident of Bietry Beach, started a Sunday School in his home.  It grew so large that he was forced to move it “under the elms” and each brought his own chair.  Today, this same location is #5224 and #5230 on the bluff, at the curve of St. Paul Boulevard.

1885    The Sunday School was formally incorporated as “The Elm Beach Union Sabbath School”.

1890    Mr. Charles Salmon gave a fifty year land lease to construct a permanent at the corner of Wabash Street and St. Paul Boulevard. The structure became known as the Elm Beach Lyceum as many contributors insisted that the building be used during the week for entertainment purposes as well as religious services on Sundays.

1915    Until this date, the Sunday School operated only during the summer months. The building was then “winterized” for year-round use at a cost of $700.00.

1916    The ladies of Summerville organized the “Summerville Community Auxiliary”. The name was eventually changed to the “Ladies Community Association of White City, Windsor Beach, and Summerville”. It was this group that raised the money to purchase land for the church.

1918    The ladies group raised $900.00 and the Lyceum building was renovated. During colder weather, it became necessary for the congregation to get up and exercise during the service to keep warm when the oil burning stove couldn’t produce enough heat.

1921    On July 24th, the church was formally incorporated as the Summerville Presbyterian     Church. By November 2, there were 57 members.

1922    The cornerstone of the Sanctuary building was laid on October 1 when $4,000.00 had     been raised. The pledges reached $6,000.00 and the Presbytery promised an additional $7,000.00 for the new building.

1923    The Sanctuary building was completed and dedicated on April 8 and on April 15, the     Peiffer Memorial Window was dedicated. The Reverend Mr. David Moody was installed as the first pastor on June 21. The Ladies Ladies Aid had been active for several months, having been organized from the Ladies Community Association, and a Men’s     Club was also formed in June of this year. Volunteer Adult and Junior Choirs now had an     active role in Sunday Services.

1927    In the fall, Rev. Moody was called to another church and was replaced by the Rev. Oscar Brownback, who had previously been serving a church in Honeoye Falls.

1928    In May, a group of young women formed the “Monday Night Club”, which became the “Church Guild” in November. In December, the Brownback Class was organized as an adult Bible class to hold monthly study sessions and social meetings for both men and women.

1931    This was a banner year for the growing church. The Ladies Aid raised enough money to donate a carpet and organ to the Sanctuary. It was at the dedication of the Kohl Triumphal Organ that the Choir and Minister first appeared in vestments!

1932    The lighting fixtures were installed and formally dedicated on Good Friday.

1935    The first Board of Deaconess’s was organized.

1942    Purchased Ontario View Street lot from the Salmon Estate.

1945    After seventeen years of faithful service, Rev. Brownback retired on June 1. Rev. Roy Albany was installed on June 17, only to resign one year later.

1946    In our 25th year as a Presbyterian Church, the Rev. Norma McNairn was called and installed on September 22.

1949     World War II had halted plans to expand the building to house the ever increasing Sunday School Classes.

1951    The Cornerstone for the Fellowship Hall addition was laid.

1952    The new addition was completed and dedicated on April 27. The growing congregation taxed the capacity of the Sanctuary making it necessary to hold two Sunday morning services. The Junior Choir sang at one service, while the Adult Choir sang at the other.

1953    Rev. McNairn left in May to do an historical study in Philadelphia. He was replaced in October when Rev. David Cull was installed as Pastor.  It was during this time that the church gained wide recognition for its excellent choirs and choral music.

1955    Property at the north side of the church was purchased from the Weller family.

1958    Church School membership was growing and a new Children’s Center was built.

1959    Rev. Allen Wollenberg arrived to assist in the ministry of the church.

1962    Membership in the church was rising. By 1962, it was necessary to hold four Easter     morning services (8:00, 9:00, 10:00, and 11:00 A.M.) to accommodate everyone. Rev.     Wollenberg left and was replaced by Rev. William Doster.

1964    Rev. William Klerekoper replaced Rev. Doster, who had left a year earlier. Dr. Ernesto Merlanti joined the pastoral staff also. “The Trumpet” was first published    to consolidate and replace the “Chancel News”, “The Messenger” and “News and     Notes.”

1967    Rev. Cull left to go to Louisville, Kentucky. During the time he was pastor, (1953-1967), church membership increased from 448 to 1,128. Rev. Converse Hunter was called to replace Rev. Cull.

1968    Dr. Merlanti retired, as did Rev. Klerekoper the following year.

1970    Rev. Richard Wereley joined the staff as Assistant Pastor.

1971    50th Anniversary celebrated.

1975    On March 23, Palm Sunday, there was a ground breaking ceremony for an addition to connect the Children’s Center and the Church building, including renovation of the Sanctuary and Fellowship Hall, and the addition of a kitchen wing.

1976    On May 16, the new addition was completed and dedicated. The Pfieffer Memorial stained glass window was relocated to the narthex, near the new front entrance to     he Sanctuary.

1979    With the newly refurbished Sanctuary and considering the age of the Kohl organ, a decision was made to purchase a new organ. A Holtkamp organ was installed and the music program prospered. The Ladies Aid and the Summerville Senior Group combined to become the Summerville Community Association.

1980    The decade of the 80’s saw a drastic decline in church membership everywhere.  Summerville was no exception. We went from two services to one service at 10:00 A.M.  Rev. Wereley left for a post in Baltimore and Rev. Steven Michie joined the staff as Associate Pastor and Rev. Walter Hobkirk became Pastoral Assistant.

1987    Rev. Hunter retired, having led the church for nineteen years.

1988    Rev. Dorthea Yoder was called as our present pastor.  Rev. Michie was called to the Presbyterian Church in Bryn Mar, PA.

1990    Rev. Hobkirk retired and Rev. David Pepper became Associate Minister.

1996    A new bell tower cross was dedicated.

2003    Rev. David Pepper left to become the Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in LeRoy, NY.