We have had eleven settled male ministers and one settled female minister. (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 Storer (1838-1844)
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 1844.
Rev. Samuel Joseph May (1845-1868)
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.
Rev. 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 Applebee (1911-1929)
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 Romig (1941-1946)
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 Canfield (1946-1952)
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 Zoerheide (1952-1961)
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. He became 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. He died in Baltimore in 2003.
Rev. John Channing Fuller (1961-1973)
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 death in 2002.
Rev. Dr. Elizabeth May Strong (1988-2001) See the section devoted to Rev. Strong shown just below the information on Rev. Taylor.
Rev. Scott E. Tayler (1997-2004)
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 and his wife, Kaaren, also a UU minister, now have a co-ministry at First Unitarian Church of Rochester (New York). They are parents to three children, Nils, Solveig, and Neva.
Rev. Dr. Elizabeth May Strong
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 Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Bingham, NY. Read one of her MMUUS sermons entitled MMUUS History and Legends.
Rev. Elizabeth Padgham – An MMUUS Favorite Daughter
One of our own became a well beloved 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. Professionally he was a County Supervisor in Onondaga County. 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. While there she overcame a life threatening Problem involving a cherry seed and her appendix. 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. Besides occasional sermons, she was a lay delegate 1928-1930 and became a trustee in 1933. She retired from the Board of Trustees in 1946. She died on December 4, 1952. In her will she bequeathed much of the furniture now residing in the memorial room from her own home and also left significant funds to May Memorial. Read her very interesting sermon delivered at May Memorial in December, 1929, entitled When Half-Gods Go.
Roger Hiemstra, MMUUS Archivist
March 26, 2006