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  Covert Baptist Church



The Covert Baptist Church began with Minor Thomas. He was an ear1y settler, preacher and pioneer pastor extraordinary. He was born in Connecticut, moved to Albany County at an early age and immigrated to the Covert area in 1798. The site of his home and farm is believed to be the Henry Stannard farm. The place now called Covert took his name and was first called Thomas Settlement. After the Covert Church was organized in 1803 he became the first pastor.

 Minor Thomas, was a Pauline apostle. He earned most of his living from farming. One who knew him well says of him: “He was a great worker. There was not a lazy bone in his body. When not at work for himse1f he would assist his brother farmers. In the harvest field at lunch time, none could tell a story better than he. He was noted for his skill at breaking oxen (how many oxen have you broken today, Reverend?); and always owned a nice yoke of steers. During his pastorate the old church at Covert was often filled in summer while a congregation of several hundred gathered about the open doors and windows outside the Church.”



As Virginia is the mother of Presidents, Covert is the mother of Churches. Among those belonging to the Seneca Association, she has at least six daughters and two grand-daughters. She was not boastful when she said to the Churches at their annual assembly in 1859 “As a mother welcomes home her returning daughters, so would this mother-church welcome you.”



The Covert Baptist Church was constituted February 16, 1803 being known at first as the Baptist Church of Ovid and Hector. It had twenty-eight constituent members. In June, 1803 the church was represented at the session of the Cayuga Association held in Bailey Town. (Willard)


Thomas Campbell was appointed the first clerk of the church and Asaph King and Joseph Thomas were elected deacons. March 9, 1805, the name of the church was changed to the Second Baptist Church of Ovid. In 1809 meetings were held one-half of the time at the home church in Thomas' settlement, one-fourth of the time at Samuel Hanley’s in Hector; one fourth of the time at Peach Orchard or other stations. This year the first colony was dismissed, calling itself the First Church in Hector, now, Bennettsburg.

In 1815, according to the historical sketch of Elder Marshall, fifty-one united with the church by baptism on New Year’s Day and they were but the first fruits of the harvest; for, during the year, the church received two hundred and twenty two members by baptism. That year the Church reported to the Cayuga Association, four hundred and eighty members, the largest number which had ever been reported to that body by any one church. The revival spread in every direction where the Covert pastor had preached, and the seed then sown soon sprang up to bear fruit in numerous new churches. Elder Thomas’ field of labor was so broad that it seems to have included the territory in which (1879) there were at least nine Baptist Churches. He resigned his pastorate in 1818 and removed, with a number of the members of this church, to Fayette county, Indiana, where he entered again upon his labors as a Gospel pioneer.      
In 1816 a number of members in the Town of Ulysses were dismissed to form another church. In 1817 the Second Hector Church (now Mecklenburg) was organized by members dismissed from Covert for that purpose. The Church of Enfield was another colony sent out the same year. In 1818 other brethren were given letters that they might establish the Third Church in Hector, which was afterward dismissed to join the Chemung River Association. The Churches in Trumansburg and Farmerville were constituted in 1819. The Fourth Church in Hector, afterward known as the Peach Orchard Church, was constituted in 1820. The same year another request was granted to brethren in Ulysses that. they might form a new church. A colony of the Covert Church also went to Rushford, Allegany County, and were constituted as a branch of the old church. That branch has since become a strong and vigorous tree. Thus within two years the old hive sent out six strong swarms.  


In 1821 a number of the members living in the town of Lodi were dismissed to aid in forming another new church, making twelve churches in all; most of them still in existence, which were constituted wholly or chiefly of members taken from this church in Covert. Judge James McCall, one of the founders of the Rushford Church, was an early settler in the town of Covert, Seneca County, residing near Farmer Village, which was once known as “McCall's.” He was converted at thirty-eight uniting with the Covert Church. He was county representative for Seneca County in the Assembly in 1809 and 1813. Moving to Rushford he was elected to the bench, the Assembly and the Senate of this State, but his first thought seemed to be ever for the Church of Christ. He was an early life-member of the Baptist. State Convention and one of its officers. He died in 1856, aged eighty-two years.


In 1822, Elder Obed Warren was engaged as pastor, “his salary to be two hundred dollars and firewood fit for the fire.” At this time Church meetings were held at the school house at Hall's Corners. About 1826, the church passed resolutions in opposition to Free Masonry; and this action appears to have led to Elder Abbott's resignation, he claiming the right to commune with members of that order. Rev. A. C. Mallory began his work as pastor April 1st, 1876, winning at once the esteem of' his people and the community.

The current church building was constructed in the 1850s, as noted below in the discussion of the building. The main portion of the building remains unchanged today from the outside, and inside, the same gospel and is taught and preached and on Sunday and throughout the week.

The photograph at right was taken in 2005.


July 4th, 1876 was a notable day in the history of the Covert Church. Nearly one thousand people assembled to hear the notes of the centennial bell, rung for the first time upon that national holiday.


Pastor Russell Crane and his family served the church from 1915 until 1918. Pastor Crane's daughter, Eleanor, is the young lady in the front row beside the church in the picture at right.

In 1925, Dr. LeRoy became pastor and continued until his death in 1942. He was well liked and is still remembered.

Pastor Leiby was pastor of the Church in 1942. Merton Fitzgerald was pastor from 1943 to 1949. Curtiss Powers came to the Covert Church in 1949 taking over Churches in Ovid Center and the Covert Church. Pastor Powers was the first to take both Churches and he lived at Covert.


Elizabeth Schmidt and her Sunday School

class outside the church in 1919.


Shown below are a number of young ladies in the same location at the 205th Anniversary

Celebration, February 2008


Irwin Towner in 1951, Donald Buckley in 1954, David Winslow in 1956, and Paul Dean in 1957 were all Pastors of both Churches. In 1967 Covert once more was on its own trying to locate a Pastor of its own. Student Pastors were used from 1967 to 1970; different Pastors were at the Church but none to take it over. In 1970 Dennis O'Brien came to be its Pastor for that year. In 1971 Charles Robinson came to be its Pastor and was Pastor till his death the same year. Student Pastors and Retired Pastor Paul Dean were used from 1972 until Nov. of 1975.




Following a major restoration of the outside of the Covert Church as a Bicentennial project of Interlaken Grange a young Pastor Larry Dean took over the Covert. Church and lived in Covert. Pastor Larry Dean with his wife and three children were very well liked by all who knew him. Larry Dean was pastor until January of 1978, moving to a larger church in Adamsville, NY, Jefferson County.


The Church was blessed with deacons and church members to continue services with guest speakers until May 1979 when Pastor Donald Aber and wife Sheila moved here from Pennsylvania. He pastured here until 1981; then returned to his hometown in Pennsylvania. Again the church was blessed with deacons and members to continue services. Robert Aldrich & wife Janet took over the church in September 1981 until 1990. Pastor William Estes took over in September 1990 and served until his passing in March 2006.


Again the church was blessed with deacons and members to continue services until January 2007 when the 41st Pastor, Pastor Nathan Weidman and wife Holly, took over as Pastor here in Covert.

On Sunday, February 18, 2007 members of the congregation and community gathered to celebrate the 204th anniversary of Covert Baptist Church and installation of Pastor Weidman. Show are members of the Interlaken Historical Society with Pastor & Mrs. Weidman, all in clothing representing earlier eras of the church.  



2008 the 205th Anniversary of


 Covert Baptist Church


Pastor Nate & Holly Weidman


Many of the church members were in the spirit of the day wearing clothing of the various eras.


The Building


The first Baptist Church in Seneca County “Was built by the Covert Church, at Thomas Settlement, three miles north of Trumansburg.” Elder Thomas Sheardown thus speaks of this Church in his autobiography “It was a rare model of architecture for this time. The people went into the gallery from out of doors, going in at the gable end of the building. The first time I saw it I could not but admire the patch work. It was not, I believe plastered all over; only here and there a patch put on; and everything else about it appeared to be in keeping with what is already named.” The meeting house seems to have been rebuilt in 1823. In 1850, during the pastorate of Elder Wardner, the present church edifice was erected, dedicated and consecrated by the conversion of souls. Subsequently however, during the pastorate of Dr. Rees, between 1867 and 1871 it was repaired and in part re-furnished.


Note the horse sheds behind the church.


The Chapel was added to Church building in the early 1900 's, and the Church and Chapel were painted in 1950 or 51. Shown at right is a picture from Easter 1900, dedication of the new chapel.



In June 1975 in getting ready for the Bicentennial Year coming up a major restoration project was undertaken. The outside of the Church and Chapel were painted, shutters were taken down, and all doors were painted green. The Steeple of the Church was contracted out and painted and repaired. The primary coat required 32 gallons and the last coat took 15 gallons. All paint, supplies and help were donated by people interested in the project.


In the Spring of 1976 a major project of the inside was undertaken. Some of the major beams of the Church had separated in the years of service and a contractor was hired to jack the ceiling back up in place and the attic beams were all reinforced. This was the most major project of the Church at a price of $4,700 and paid by donations. Other inside work was done once the stabilization project was completely paid off.


The Church Building is now on the National Register of Historic Places in Washington, DC. The Church is included in the Covert Historic District which was approved in 1980.


In the last few years major interior work has been done with new drop ceiling, new carpeting, painting of the interior, and new baseboard heat so the main church can be used for services.


Also included were new bathrooms, kitchen remodeling and replacement windows in the chapel.

During  September  2007 the chapel  of the church was painted, additionally, the handicap ramp was rebuilt, painted and stained.   
Through the generosity of an anonymous donor, eight new insulated windows were installed in the main church.




April 2, 2008 A new roof was added to the main building. By the end of the summer the church had a new coat of paint.


God's work and word, alive and growing at 

 Covert Baptist Church




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