HARKNESS The congregation of Harkness United Methodist Church will celebrate a momentous event when they host the church's hundredth annual chicken pie supper on Sunday, Oct. 14.
Though the supper will be held next weekend, the Harkness congregations celebration actually began on Sept. 23. It was during the 9:30 a.m. service when, in the tradition of the circuit-riding ministers, the churchs former pastor, the Rev. Henry C. Freuh, arrived at the church on horseback and several worshippers wore period dress. The Rev. Freuh, who is currently the Adirondack District Superintendent for the Troy Conference of the United Methodist Church, recalled the churchs history and spoke about the religious practices of times past.
The history of Methodism in Harkness dates to 1825, when the Rev. Robert York arrived from England and began to preach in West Peru. He held services in a schoolhouse in the vicinity of Kirby Corners. As the congregation grew, it became necessary to increase the size of the worship area. When a decision was made to build a church on Allen Hill Road north of the West Peru cemetery, the Hallock Hill congregants were not pleased the church would be a half-mile further away. They seceded from the congregation and held services in the Hallock Hill Schoolhouse for the next fifty-five years.
Indications are that up to 1872, with a few exceptions, the congregations were served by a minister from the Village of Peru, probably on alternate Sunday afternoons. After 1872 West Peru was supplied, with some exceptions, by the minister from Clintonville while Hallock Hill was supplied from Peru. Finally, in the winter of 1906-07, at a time when the Rev. James M. Cass was pastor, the congregations decided to reunite. The West Peru building was dismantled, moved and rebuilt where it currently stands.
The Harkness church, located today at the corner of Harkness and Hallock Hill roads, has a rich history. Church members always recall prominent Methodist theologian, preacher, writer, poet and philosophy professor Dr. Georgia Harkness was born in Harkness in 1891 and was buried there in August 1974. Dr. Harkness was a major voice in support of women being ordained in the Methodist denomination and as a person who made theology understandable for the common person.