News of Otsego County

Serving Otsego County, NY, through the combined reporting of Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and the Hometown Oneonta newspapers.

Pastor Sylvia Barrett

2 Years, 2 Months, 28 Days After Inferno, A New Church

Joy & Relief

2 Years, 2 Months, 28 Days

After Inferno, A New Church

An standing-room-only crowd filled the “starkly beautiful” new Milford Methodist Church Sunday, June 9, replacing one razed by an arsonist on March 12, 2017. (Ian Austin/HOMETOWN ONEONTA & The Freeman’s Journal)

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Annabel Wu, Erica Eggleston and Savyn Mazzarella were confirmed at the church dedication by Pastor Sylvia
Barrett and
District Superintendent Everett Bassett


Where once stood a towering, Romanesque-in-miniature brick sanctuary, now resides a little white country church, its interior “starkly beautiful,” as John Wesley would want it.

“When I met with the committees, they were insistent that they wanted a little country church,” said Jim Hundt, the architect who designed the new Milford United Methodist Building. “They wanted it to have an Adirondack style, very comfortable, very open.”

The first service, which was standing-room only, was Sunday, June 9 – Pentecost.

“On the night of March 12, 2017, who would have predicted that we would be sitting here in this beautiful, starkly beautiful space, ready to begin a brand new chapter in this community,” said Pastor Sylvia Barrett in her sermon, “Emboldened and Empowered.” “On the night of Pentecost, the disciples came to an end of one chapter in their lives, and started a brand new chapter for themselves,”

Following the fire, the trustees formed several different committees to task with rebuilding. “It was never an option not to rebuild,” said Bob Moore, chairman of the church’s Board of Trustees and former Milford town justice.

The big thing in the design, all committees agreed, was to incorporate the three stained-glass windows that miraculously survived the fire.

It was a day of dedications, and not just the church itself.

The organ was dedicated to Dot Weir, who played music for the church for 67 years. “May every piece we play find its way up to you,” said Pastor Sylvia.

The main stained-glass window was dedicated to David Thorn’s parents; the two side ones to the Eggleston and Martin families.

“Those were a big feature and they were expensive,” said Hundt. “So we had to make compromises.”

Compromises included delaying on air conditioning, but no matter: though the temperatures were in the mid-70s by noon, a cool breeze blew through ranks of windows open on both sides of the sanctuary.

“We put in a lot of cottage-style windows that create a good cross-breeze,” said Hundt. “With so many modern buildings, you can’t open the windows, but these provide good lighting and great ventilation.”

Even the candelabras have a country touch, with bulbs styled to look like wide white candles set in simple, round metal frames.

And just because it’s old-fashioned doesn’t mean it doesn’t have modern touches, including two 83-inch TV screens, where lyrics and Biblical quotes are displayed so people can read and sing along. The church does not have pews, but chairs – brought over from the former Milford Manor Farms building that served as the church for the last year; attached, it will now be the social hall, where punch and cake were served after the service.

The new church was built entirely from donations and insurance, with no debt to the church itself. “Before we even started fundraising, we had $50,000,” said Barrett. “So many people stepped forward to help. We prayed a way forward and here we are.”

The first service included remarks from the Methodist Church’s district superintendent, Rev. Everett Bassett of Oneonta. “No other church has quite as marvelous a story as this one,” he said. “It’s been an amazing journey, and the level of leadership, vision and determination has been inspiring. That’s what shows up today. As a congregation, we will never forget the help we received.”

Longtime congregant state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, gave the closing prayer.

“We are back, stronger than ever and looking forward to a new chapter of faith in this community,” said Barrett.

REJOICE! Milford United Methodist Celebrates Pentecost Service In New Church


As Milford United Methodist Opens

‘All The People’ – SRO – ‘Say Amen’

Sounds of song, inspiration and prayer filled the brand new sanctuary to standing-room-only at the rebuilt Milford Methodist Church during this morning’s service, “two years, two months and twenty-eight days” after the March 12, 2017, arson that destroyed the original building. Above, Pastor Sylvia Barrett on guitar, leads the  congregation in “And All The People Said Amen,” with help from Music Director Ron Johnson on organ and choir members Jerriann Garrillo, Mark Andrews, Anthony Welsh, Ralph Eggleston, Patsy Lyons, Sandy Andrews, Emily Mattison-Welsh, Maureen Johnson and Cindy Campbell. At left, state Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, a member of the church and its Building Committee,  reads the closing prayer for the morning. Following the service, worshippers enjoyed a celebration fellowship.  (Ian Austin/

At Covenant Service, Congregation Opens Door To New Chapter


At Covenant Service,

Congregation Opens

Door On New Chapter

The Milford Methodist Church Building Committee gathers this evening after a Covenant Service, where the congregation recommitted itself to a new chapter in the local church’s 150-year history.   Front row, from left, are Al Dubreuil, Emily Mattison-Welsh, Pastor Sylvia Barrett, Lola Rathbone, committee chair, Tom Rathbone and Sandy Andrews; top row, from left, state Sen. Jim Seward, Bill Triolo, Russell Freer and David Meade.  Inset, Pastor Sylvia, assisted by Meade, gives communion to 80 congregants, including Miranda Cotten.  An open house for the community is 3-6 p.m. Saturday (June 8), with the Dedication and Confirmation Service at 10:45 Sunday (June 9).  The new church on Route 28, just north of Milford, replaces one that burned Sunday, March 12, 2017.  (Jim Kevlin/

Stained-Glass Window Back In Place Of Honor

Stained-Glass Window

Back In Place Of Honor

‘Christ At Gethsemane’ Rescued After

Raging Fire Destroyed Milford Church

Pastor Sylvia Barrett surveys the nearly complete sanctuary – “starkly beautiful,” as Methodism’s founder John Wesley preferred – inside the new Milford Methodist Church this morning as stained-glass restorer Doug Hallberg of Oneonta reinstalls “Christ at Gethsemane,” which was almost destroyed Sunday, March 12, 2017, when the 1929 landmark on Route 28 was destroyed in an arson fire.  Construction began on the new church last September, and it has become a new landmark, much remarked-upon by the thousands of drivers that passed it daily.  Finishing touches are being done on the modern structure, which, pending final code approvals, is due to open soon.  (Ian Austin/


Pastor Sylvia Barrett 2017 Citizen Of Year YEARBOOK PUBLISHED

Pastor Sylvia Barrett

2017 Citizen Of Year

Hometown Oneonta & The Freeman’s Journal announce the 2017 Citizen of the Year in this week’s editions: Pastor Sylvia Barrett, who is energetically leading her congregation into the future after the Milford United Methodist Church burned on March 12. Also this week’s newspapers, the Otsego County Yearbook, with one photo from every week of the just-ending year, is published. Available this afternoon at newsstands through Otsego County.
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