Zion History Tidbits
Zion Episcopal Church was incorporated in the State of New York in 1823. The first church building was a wooden “Hobart Box.”
Zion Church was incorporated on June 23, 1823. Our first church building was called a “Hobart Box”. It was built in 1827. It was a square wooden building. The Bishop at the time was Bishop Hobart, thus the “Hobart Box”. It was small, 40’ x 35’ and only seated 50 people so they outgrew it. The windows in the chapel are from the original building. The rest of the windows are the St. John’s Summer Chapel at Sodus Point.
Over the years, slates from our roof have been replaced. Each slate is signed by a worker. Some scratched in with a nail. When the roof was replaced in the 1990’s Zion members signed the new slates. We were able to get slate from the same company, Evergreen Slate in Vermont, and the same colors. There are 20,000 slates on the roof and they weigh a total weight of 40 tons.
Not every mason can build a steeple (bell tower). The foundation for Zion’s steeple was put in when the church building was built in 1872/73. A mason from England, Mr. Jones, came 2 years later and built the steeple. The steeple is 125 feet tall. It was given in memory of Mr. Cuyler’s 3 daughters. Mr. Jones liked Palmyra so much he never left.
The bell in our steeple was in our original church building. Its date is 1831. It is solid brass or bronze. It is 3 feet in diameter and 2 feet high. It is rung every Sunday morning before the 10:00 service.
Our stained-glass windows are unique and rare. The windows at eye level in the nave and narthex tell the story of Jesus’ life. These windows were installed when the church was built in 1873 and cost approximately $3,500 for all of them. Each window consists of 150 to 200 separate pieces of stained glass held together with fine leading. If you look at several of the windows you will notice that the colors are the same in every window: the blues, the reds, etc. This also makes them very unique and rare.
Did you know we have a Rose Window? Do you know where it is? It is over the main doors to the Church. It is called a Rose Window because it resembles the petals of a rose. It contains seven circular components with symbolic images. It was installed in 1873 and leaked 9 years later. The vestry had the janitor make repairs. Now Pike Glass of Rochester takes care of all the stained-glass windows.
The seven symbolic images in the Rose Window are: DOVE: Holy Spirit, CHALICE: Holy Eucharist,
GRAPES: Wine of the Eucharist, ROSE: Promise of the Messiah, LILY: Purity and Innocence, FONT: Baptism, and PHOENIX: Resurrection.
There are 13 stained glass windows that tell the story of Jesus life. They start on the bridge with number 1, then down the east side and west side of the church ending at the bell tower with number 13. Since we are in the Easter season, I will tell about the windows dealing with the Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension. Window number 11 depicts the Crucifixion. It shows Jesus on the cross with his mother, his mother’s sister, and Mary Magdalene. “Woman behold they son” (John 19). This window is in Memory of Martin Butterfield.
Window number 12 depicts the Resurrection. “Peace be unto you but they were terrified”. (Luke 24). This window is in Memory of William Chapman. Window number 13 depicts the Ascension. “And it came to pass while he blessed them he was parted from them and carried up into heaven.” (Luke 24). This window is in Memory of Benjamin and Wealthy Billings.
Continuing down the west side of the church with window 10. This window depicts the Good Shepherd.“I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd giveth his life for his sheep”. (John 11). This window is in Memory of Thomas and Harriet Rogers. Remember what Fr. Dan told us about sheep and shepherds in his homily a couple weeks ago.
Window number 8 is the last window on the west side of the church building. It depicts the healing of the lame man, “And....The lame came to him...and he healed them”. (Matthew 21). It was given in Memory of William and Sarah Tilden. Window number 9 depicts the baptism of Christ by John. “Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized of John of Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens open and the spirit like a dove descending upon him”. (Mark 1). This window was given in Memory of David and Adela Sanford.
Northeast corner window #7. This window depicts the healing of the man sick with palsy. “And they came to him, bringing one sick with palsy. When they could not come nigh unto him, they uncovered the roof where he was and let down the bed where in the sick lay” (Mark 2). This window is in Memory of J. Etha Milligan and Julie Milligan. Window #6 depicts the healing of the blind man “And he cometh to Bethsaida and they besought him to touch him...and after that he put his hand upon his eyes and he was restored” (Mark 8). This window is in Memory of Dr Benjamin Throop.
Some history about a Zion tradition know as “Rose Sunday." It was always held on the third Sunday in June. The custom of flowering the cross was started in 1896 by the Rev. Charles Walkley. He would take the cross to Rev John Webster’s grave after the service. During the service the members of the congregation would come forward, singing hymns, to place the roses on the cross. For many years, the roses were from the bushes at the Garlock Gun Club. In more recent years members would bring flowers from their gardens. The annual presentations of the Sunday School promotion certificates and attendance awards were given out at this service as well.