We have had eleven
settled male ministers and two settled female ministers. (This does not
include our religious education leaders/ministers, assistant ministers, or
interim ministers.) Following is a brief bio on each of the settled ministers.
(The years in parentheses after each person’s names represents their years of
ministry in Syracuse.)
Rev. John Parker Boyd
Rev. Storer was our first minister. He was born in Portland, Maine, in 1794.
He graduated from Bowdoin College in 1812. He next became a theology student
at Bowdoin College that same year. He became a Tutor at Bowdoin College in
1816. He was ordained a minister in the Unitarian Church at Walpole,
Massachusetts, in 1826. He moved to Syracuse in 1839 to become minister of
the Unitarian Congregational Society (our first name). He died in Syracuse in
Rev. Samuel Joseph May
Rev. May was our second minister. He was born in Boston in 1797. He was
educated at Chauncey Hall School and graduated from Harvard College in 1817.
He then taught school while attending Harvard Divinity School, graduating in
1820. He was ordained at King's Chapel in Boston, in 1822. He became minister
of the Unitarian Church, Brooklyn, Connecticut, in 1822. Next he was Minister
of the Unitarian Church, South Scituate, Massachusetts, in 1836. He became
Principal of the Female Normal School, Lexington, Massachusetts, in 1842. He
moved to Syracuse and was minister of the Church of the Messiah (our second
name) in 1845. He retired in 1868 and died in Syracuse in 1871.
Dr. Samuel Robert Calthrop (1868-1911)
Rev. Calthrop, our third minister, was born in Swineshead Abbey,
Lincolnshire, England, in 1829. He was educated at St. Paul's School in
London and at Trinity College in Cambridge. He moved to the U.S. in 1853. He
became minister of the Universalist Church in Southold (Long Island), New
York, for three months. He next ran a school for boys in Bridgeport,
Connecticut, for six years. He was ordained as a Unitarian minister in 1860.
First he was a minister at Unitarian churches in Marblehead and Newburyport,
Massachusetts. He moved to Syracuse and became minister of the Church of the
Messiah in 1868 and then May Memorial when it was built in 1885. He became
Pastor Emeritus in 1911. He received the L.H.D. from Syracuse University in
June, 1900. He was an individual with many interests who contributed much to
May Memorial and the Syracuse community.
Rev. Dr. John Henry
Rev. Applebee, our fourth minister, was born in England in 1867. He moved to
the United States with his parents in 1878. He was educated at the Boston
High School and the Meadville Theological School, graduating in 1894. He
first served the Parkside Unitarian Church in Buffalo for four years. Next he
was in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, until 1905. His next assignment was for
six years at the Pilgrims Church in Attleboro, Massachusetts. He was the
minister at May Memorial from 1911 to 1929. He received an honorary doctorate
from Meadville (1924). He died in Syracuse in 1938.
Rev. Dr. Wendelin
Waldemar Weiland Argow (1930-1941)
Rev. Argow was our fifth minister. He was born in Dayton, Ohio, in 1891. He
was educated at the University of Louisville in Kentucky and the Southern
Baptist Theological Seminary. He received a Doctor of Theology from that
seminary in 1921. He was ordained a Baptist minister in 1913. He served the
Baptist church in Lorain, Ohio, from 1914 to 1919. He then became a pacifist
and resigned his ministry. Next he worked for two years at the 23rd Street
YMCA (New York City) while studying at New York University. He was accepted
for Unitarian Fellowship in 1920. His first Unitarian ministry was the
People's Church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in 1921. He became minister of May
Memorial in 1930. He became minister of the Unitarian Church in Baltimore
from 1941 to 1961. He died in 1961 in Amherst, Massachusetts.
Rev. Robert Eldon
Rev. Romig, our sixth minister, was born in Fort Scott, Kansas, in 1908. He
received the B.A. degree from the University of Denver in 1929. His
theological studies were at the Hoff School of Theology in Denver. He
graduated from Meadville Theological School in 1936. His first minister
position was at the First Unitarian Church, Duluth, Minnesota, in 1936. He
became minister at May Memorial in 1941. He was United War Fund Area field
representative for New York northern counties in 1944 and 1945. He resigned
the ministry in 1946 to become an advocate for the United Nations. He
returned to Syracuse in 1951 as Assistant to the President of the Davis
Distributing Corporation. He died in Syracuse in 1986.
Rev. Glenn Owen
Rev. Canfield was our seventh minister. He was born in Topeka, Kansas, in 1907.
He was educated at Texas Christian University and then at the McCormick
Theological Seminary in Chicago. He became a Presbyterian minister in
Woodstock (IL), Tulsa (OK), and Hobbs (NM). He then sought a more free
religion and became interested in social reform. He became a Unitarian
minister in Clinton and Berlin (MA) in 1945. He became the minister at May
Memorial in 1946. In 1951 he became Minister- at-Large in Atlanta, Georgia.
He started a racially integrated United Liberal Church in Atlanta in 1954. He
was minister of the First Unitarian Church. Miami (FL) in 1956. He was
Executive Secretary for UUA districts in New England and the Southwest from
1959 to 1969. He died in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1973.
Rev. Dr. Robert Lee
Rev. Zoerheide, our eighth minister, was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in
1914. He received an A.B. from Western Michigan College in Kalamazoo,
Michigan. He graduated from Meadville Theological School in 1943. He was
ordained in 1943 by the First Unitarian Church of Chicago. He did graduate
study at Harvard and later received the D.D. from Meadville Lombard. He was
minister of the Universalist church in Hoopestown
(IL). Next he was minister for Unitarian students in greater Boston and
worked with the Unitarian Service Committee. He ran a hostel for
Japanese-Americans in Boston in 1945. He was minister of the Unitarian Church
in Peterborough (NH) in 1946 and minister of May Memorial in 1952. He was
minister of Cedar Lane Unitarian Church in Bethesda (MD) in 1961. He was
minister of First Parish in Lexington (MA) in 1971. He became minister of
First Unitarian Church in Baltimore in 1978. He retired in 1985 in Baltimore
and died there in 2003.
Rev. John Channing
Rev. Fuller, our ninth minister, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in
1921. He graduated from Williams College in 1943. He served in the Navy
during World War II. He graduated from Meadville Theological School in 1949.
He also did graduate studies at the University of Basel in Switzerland and
Cambridge University in England. He became minister of the Unitarian church
in New London, Connecticut, in 1951. He was minister of the Unitarian church
in Orlando, Florida, in 1953. He became minister of May Memorial in 1961.
Finally, he became minister of the Unitarian Church, Scituate, Massachusetts,
in 1973. He died in Scituate in 1974.
Rev. Dr. Nicholas C.
Cardell, Jr. (1974-1995)
Rev. Cardell was our tenth minister. He was born in Smith's Falls, Ontario,
Canada, in 1925. He moved to New York City in 1928. He had Army service in
World War II, including time spent in a German prison camp. He graduated from
Columbia College, New York City, in 1952, and from Meadville Theological
School in 1957. He received a D.O. from Meadville in 1987. He was ordained a
minister at First Unitarian Society, Plainfield, New Jersey, in 1957. He then
was minister of First Unitarian Society, Albany, New York, in 1962. He moved
to Syracuse and was minister of May Memorial in 1974 until his retirement in
1995 He was then Minister Emeritus until his 2002 death in Syracuse.
Rev. Dr. Elizabeth May
Strong (1988-2001) See the section devoted to Rev. Strong shown just below
the information on Rev. Wahlstrom.
Rev. Scott E. Tayler
Rev. Taylor is a Midwesterner whose father was a minister. He often describes
himself as a spiritual non-theist who believes in grace. Scott's ministry
emphasizes the importance of spiritual development and is shaped
significantly by his Christian upbringing which stressed the power of kindness,
humility and service. He because minister of May Memorial (his first church)
in 1997 and served in that role until 2004. Scott also has a family therapy
degree. He is director of Congregational Life, Unitarian Universalist Association,
Rev. Jean L. Wahlstrom (2007-2015)
Rev. “Jean” is a
native of Massachusetts and the daughter of a UU minister. She is a graduate
of Colby College and received the Master’s of
Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School. She served as a minister with
congregations in Burlington (Iowa), Clarklake (Michigan), Flint (Michigan),
Portland (Maine), and Phoenix (Arizona) before coming to Syracuse. Jean’s
ministry emphasizes worship, pastoral care, and membership. She notes, “I
treat the Sunday morning worship hour as absolutely the most important of the
week – sacred time and space; a rich experience for the heart, mind, and
senses.” She loves nature and the out-of-doors and is particularly fond of
hiking. Jean is retired and lives in Massachusetts.
Rev. Dr. Elizabeth May
Minister of Religious Education; 1988-2001 Our First Settled Female Minister
Rev. Strong is a fourth generation active UU. She began teaching religious
education at the Old Stone Universalist church in Schuyler Lake, NY when she
was in the eighth grade. She is now a mother and grandmother. She became
involved professional and was named Director of Religious Education for First
Unitarian of Rochester, NY, in 1978. She was ordained a Minister of Religious
Education there in 1983. She became Minister of Religious Education at MMUUS
in 1988 and served us until 2001. Along the way she earned a doctoral degree.
Currently, she is a UUA Religious Education Program Coordinator for the
Massachusetts Bay District. Her son, Douglas Taylor is a minister at the UU
Congregation of Binghamton, New York.
Rev. Elizabeth Padgham
– An MMUUS Favorite Daughter
One of our own became a well loved and respected Unitarian minister.
Elizabeth Padgham was born on June 10, 1874. Her father, Amos Padgham, was
very active in May Memorial, serving for many years as clerk and treasurer. Elizabeth
grew up in the May Memorial church and later noted that Rev. Calthrop was a
role model. She graduated from Meadville in 1901 and was ordained at May
Memorial on September 17, 1901. Delivering the ordination sermon was Rev.
Marie Jenney, who also grew up in the May Memorial church and who was a
childhood friend of Elizabeth. Rev. Padgham’s first church was in Perry,
Iowa, in that same year. She moved to the Unitarian Church in Rutherford, New
Jersey, in 1905. After her retirement in 1927 she moved back to Syracuse and
once again became active at May Memorial. She died in Syracuse on December 4,
past chair, MMUUS History Committee
February 15, 2017