An unpopulated area on Military Lot No. 62, just west of Butternut Creek (near an extensive cedar swamp abounding in game) was chosen for homesteading in 1791 by Revolutionary War veteran John Young. Here, the Young’s built a frame dwelling for their family of six boys and three girls, and a tavern to serve the needs of westward moving pioneers. Very early they gathered together a group known as the “Methodist Episcopal Young’s Society”, which met in their home until a chapel was constructed around 1811. From these humble beginnings, more than 200 years ago, the tradition of DeWitt Community Church was born.
c. 1811 The first religious services organized in the Methodist tradition were held in John Young’s home in the hamlet of Youngsville.
c. 1814 With the establishment of the Orville Post Office, the community ceased to be known as Youngsville. In 1835 when the Town of Manlius was divided, the name was again changed – this time to DeWitt.
c. 1819 Young’s group built their first church on Jamesville Road with the “burying ground” behind it. This cemetery, where John Young is buried, is located behind the DeWitt Fire Department.
1826 It was resolved on March 14, 1826 that this group of worshippers would become the “Methodist Episcopal Young Society”, and on September 22, 1825 they were incorporated as such.
1863 The Orville Presbyterian Society disbanded after six years of existence, and donated its property (fronting Thompson Road and Erie Boulevard) to the Methodist Episcopal Young Society; deed dated February 6, 1863 and recorded March 16, 1863.
1886 The building burned in 1886 – only the bell was salvaged.
1887 One year later a new church was built on the same site. Fragments of the old bell found among the ruins were recast into the bell that still rings in our steeple today.
1930 The church was moved across Thompson Road to the west and remodeled.
1937 The Reverend Alexander C. Carmichel was “called to begin an inter-denominational church” in which “faith is more important than the creed…and church and community must work together”. The church grew rapidly as did the DeWitt area. Eventually Mr. Carmichel held four identical services each Sunday morning and church activities filled each week.
1943 Alex temporarily left the church to serve as chaplain at Wright-Patterson Airfield in Dayton, OH. During his absence, his brother Campbell Carmichel (on leave from Cazenovia College) served as minister until Alex returned in 1946.
1947 In May, construction began on a Memorial Hall at the south-rear of the sanctuary by Conlon-Farnsworth.
1948 The Memorial Hall Consecration Service was held Sunday, January 12, 1948. The hall was home to activities ranging from Sunday School to Christmas, Easter and other special services, as well as many athletic and fellowship events for church and community. The Women’s Association, Men’s Club, Church Forum, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, Couple’s Clubs, and the church/inter-church basketball league all used the building. Rotary Club held its Pancake Breakfasts there and variety shows and plays often occupied the stage. The first Antique Show was held in Memorial Hall and remained an annual event until 1992. The new church planning committee was organized. Planning became the priority as the church family grew and its activities exceeded the available physical space. On Sundays classes were held in the chapel, Memorial Hall, Lincoln Bank, The Birches Restaurant in Shoppingtown and the “basement of the old church in the furnace room”.
1951 Rev. Carmichel visited forty churches that either were going through or had gone through a building program and submitted a report of his findings.
1952 On June 25, an advisory committee was formed to envision the future of church and make recommendations. On December 19, the advisory committee submitted a report to the official board which recommended that a new church seating 650 persons be built on a new site on Erie Boulevard, to be purchased for approximately $17,000.
1953 On March 8, the first meeting of the building fund committee was held. Later that month, a campaign was begun to raise funds for the new church, and a Building Fund Drive was started.
1954 On April 28, the church purchased lots in the Orvilton Park Tract for $16,500. The former parsonage at 107 Wellington Road, DeWitt was sold and the house and lot at 211 Pelham Road was purchased to be used as a parsonage. A service of consecration of the property for the new church building was held on September 11, and on November 7 the ground breaking ceremony was held. A pipe organ was purchased from Wilfred Laballes in NYC.
November 19, the DeWitt Community Church became the new name of the Methodist Episcopal Young Society.
1955 On September 18 the dedication service for the new church was held. The church purchased additional lots for parking lot adjacent to the cemetery. The church assumed responsibility for the maintenance and operation of the cemetery.
1956 Several new choirs (including a new Boy’s Choir established this year) participated in the services during the 1950’s, including the Chancel Choir, Senior Youth Choir, and Junior High Choir.
1961 DeWitt Community Church celebrated its 150th year! The Herald Journal religion editor described it as a congregation “representing 31 different faiths, unified in worship”.
1962 The church built the post office building and leased it to the United States Postal Service.
1963 The education wing was constructed.
1964 The Suburban Thrift Shop was started in Shoppingtown. (It later moved to a location on Burnet Avenue, before moving into the church building in 1968.) A special memorial service for President John F. Kennedy was held on Thanksgiving Sunday.
1965 The first Central New York Art Open was presented by the church in cooperation with the congregation of Beth Shalom-Chevra Sha, an event which was held annually until 1987.
1967 Groundbreaking took place for the construction of a new fellowship hall.
1968 The Fellowship Hall was completed and dedicated. Our church began hosting the congregation of Saint David’s Episcopal, which held services in the old Parrish House for several years. Hebrew prayer books replaced hymnals in our pews on Friday nights as the congregation of Beth Shalom worshiped in our sanctuary.
1970 Rededication of the DeWitt Community Church was celebrated January 20, 1970.
1972 A 35th anniversary celebration was held for The Reverend Alexander Carmichel at three services with five choirs participating. A reception followed in the parlor with an anniversary dinner following at Drumlins Country Club.
1976 The nation’s bi-centennial celebration was recognized with special events at the church.
1980 Assistant Minister Rev. Wayne Archer retired on October 26.
1981 Rev. Alexander C. Carmichel retired after 44 years as Senior Minister. Rev. Edwin F. Taylor was installed as Senior Minister on May 3, 1981.
1982 The DeWitt Community Church and the Central New York Conference of the United Methodist Church reached an agreement in which DCC was recognized as an independent church.
1983 The DeWitt Community Church endowment fund was established and a 9:00am Sunday worship service was added.
1984 Rev. Landrum Wooten was hired as Associate Minister.
1985 DCC celebrated the 50th anniversary of Mr. Carmichel’s ordination. A 5:30 pm Saturday evening service in the Stone Room was added to the weekly worship schedule.
1986 A capital campaign to renovate the sanctuary and purchase a new organ was completed, and its goal of $35,000 was surpassed.
1987 Rev. Taylor began offering he recorded Word of the Day, available to callers on a dedicated phone line. Property at 109 Grenfell Road was purchased by the church.
1988 State of the art hearing aids were installed in the sanctuary.
1989 A new Allen Chapel Organ was installed in the Stone Room.
1990 The United Methodist Korean Hope Church began meeting at DCC, and our church sponsored an Amerasian family.
1991 We celebrated Rev. Taylor’s 10th anniversary as Senior Minister.
1992 A Baldwin grand piano was given for use in the sanctuary.
1993 500 new hymnals were purchased for worship services in the sanctuary.
1994 Campaign 2000 was initiated to retire the church debt and make improvements. The steeple was gilded and illuminated.
1995 The Weekly Radio Worship Service on station WDCW-1390 at 4:00 pm Sunday and Wednesday at 8:00 pm was made available to anyone unable to attend church. The Suburban Shop, begun in 1965, celebrated 30 year of service, and the monthly food collection began its ministry of providing food for the St. Mary’s Food Pantry.
1999 The DCC History Committee met for the first time on January 7 to provide a link to the past and serve as a resource for the future. May is designated as DeWitt Community Church History Month.
2000 Vacation Bible School was held in August. An annual mitten Christmas tree in the narthex was decorated with donations of mittens, hats and scarves for distribution to family centers in the Syracuse area.
2001 The Women’s Association Suburban Shop changes its focus to mission and service to the community through sales of quality used clothing. As of November they stopped taking consignments and accept donations only. The Friendship Ministry invited volunteers to share a small amount of time with someone in our church community who could use a friend. Wednesday Bible Class and Sunday Adult Bible Class began meeting weekly.
2004 The Rev. Edwin F. Taylor preached his last sermon as Senior Minister on January 11, marking his retirement after 22 years at DeWitt Community Church. On January 17, The Rev. Dr. Stephen Nash was installed as Senior Minister. On October 29, Rev. Alexander Carmichel died, having celebrated his 93rd birthday 11 days earlier.
2005 Rev. Dr. Stephen Nash resigned in September to become minister of Christ Community Church in Orlando, FL. Guest ministers filled the pulpit beginning in September while a search was conducted for an interim minister.
2006 The Rev. Dr. William Grossman joined DCC as Interim Senior Minister. He would remain in that position until the search committee found a permanent pastor.
2007 On May 27, the Memorial Courtyard was dedicated. The Suburban Shop closed after more than 40 years, and the area it occupied was revamped for use as a youth center. The Rev. Dr. Melinda LaMontagne joined the pastoral staff as an Associate Minister on November 24.
2008 On July 12 & 13, the Rev. Dr. Mark Sommers conducted services as a prospective Senior Minister. After each service the congregation was balloted and he was overwhelmingly accepted. In July, 9 youth and 5 adults went to Dominican Republic to work with the children at Emilio Tardif Foundation Orphanage. On September 30, Minister of Music Rev. Bob Allen left the church to take a position with the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra. The Rev. Dr. Mark Sommers assumed the position of Senior Minister on November 1.
2009 In July, 37 youth and 8 adults went to Dominican Republic to work with the Orphanage Outreach, visiting orphanages in the communities of Puerto Plata, Monte Christi, and Santiago on their mission of Christian service.