Fayetteville: UCF celebrates 75 years of unity

For months, congregants at the United Church of Fayetteville enthusiastically prepared for the celebration of its 75th anniversary. This weekend, the festivities concluded with a pageant, dinner, guest speakers and reception.

UCF's unique history highlights how two denominations -- the Baptists and the Presbyterians -- came together in 1933: through a coal shortage. The deficit forced the pioneers to re-think how they could continue their worship services. Their solution? To share with each other the current building located on East Genesee Street, which was the Presbyterians' church. The Baptists' site was directly across the street where the old Solutions store used to operate -- literally a hop, skip and a jump away.

Today, Marjorie Devoy is the only UCF member who was there for the initial union. She was three years old at the time. Her family is eight generations tied to the church, which began with the Collins family in the late 1700s, and then the Wells family, for whom Wellwood School was named. The line continues to her grandchildren who are part of the Abbott family residing in Fayetteville.

"It's just been a part of my life, always," Devoy said about the church and its meaning to her.

Devoy said she never remembers there being a division among the members, even though there were two distinct faith groups.

"I never knew growing up who was a Presbyterian and who was a Baptist," she said. "It was never an issue."

Rev. Linda Even, who came to UCF last year as pastor, said she believes the church has thrived over the years due to its people and their commitment.

"They're excited about this congregation, its possibilities and the vision of a unity of Christ which that early union -- the two denominations -- brought together," Even said. "I think that lives on in this congregation."

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