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This month, I would like to recognize the matriarch of our family: Margaret Hutchinson. She recently celebrated her 96th birthday!

Aunt Marg is my father’s sister, the third child born to William Charles and Lillian Viola Halcrow Pilgrim. She was born in The Pas, Manitoba. My sisters and cousins were privileged to visit our Canadian family and met many "new" cousins. I reshared those photos with Aunt Marg recently, and she shared her memories of her visit some 30 years ago and all she remembers of her time there as a child. (The family moved back to Ottawa when she was three years old.) Many in her family call her “Kukum.” "Kukum" is Cree for "grandmother," the name she and her brothers and sister called Grandmother Halcrow (Margaret McLeod Halcrow). We called our Grandmother Pilgrim "Kukum" and, for a bit, it did seem odd to have a “new” Kukum. However, it is wonderful that the name has persisted. One of the restaurants we visited while in northern Manitoba had "kukuum cakes" (pancakes) on the menu. We were concerned that we had been spelling our grandma’s “name” wrong for decades, but our waitress just smiled and said, “Cree is very much a spoken language; the spelling is up to who is writing it down!” She also mentioned that many Cree children enjoy having pancakes with their grandmother, hence kukuum cakes.

Last Sunday, I shared some thoughts about baptism at our Amazing Grace combined service in South Butler. Historically, the Methodist Church has recognized sprinkling, pouring and immersion of infants, children and adults. Researching the local baptism ceremonies was fun. Through local newspapers and stories, we can track some of our customs.

The Auburn Daily Bulletin in June 1887: "The Methodists of the North Summerhill Church will hold a grove meeting in Brigdon Grove and will baptize by immersion in G.W. Spafford’s trout pond at 3 P.M. Rev. W.H. Gidon of Moravia will conduct the ceremonies." In that paper on Monday, Aug. 15, 1887, it was reported that “there were two public baptisms by immersion in Graham Park, Weedsport, yesterday."

Our own Roy Thompson joined Spring Lake Methodist Protestant Church on Feb. 20, 1898, and was baptized by immersion in Duck Lake the following July by the Rev. Becker.

South Butler: "The Rev. D. Shorts performed the ordination of baptism to 28 candidates Sunday at Duck Lake. The Rev. A.J. Allen of Spring Lake also held baptism services the same day, baptizing 17." That article was from The Wolcott Lake Shore News, 1904-06. The Savannah Times reported, “The ordinance of baptism was administered at Duck Lake last Sunday. Candidates from Conquest, Spring Lake and South Butler were present." The Cato Citizen in 1914 told of a “ride to Vorhees Grove where they witnessed the baptism of three young men. All report a fine time.” And as late as August 22, 1946, 10 from the Gospel Center in Fair Haven were immersed in Spring Lake.

I was baptized as an infant in Cortland First Methodist Church in January 1945. Many in the congregation shared their baptism stories and recollections, several having been baptized in the South Butler Church.

Another word about our combined services: For the winter months, the Amazing Grace Parish is combining worship services. During the month of January, we will be meeting at the South Butler United Methodist Church in Butler on Route 89 in Butler; for the month of February at Countryside United Methodist Church on Duck Lake Road in Port Byron (Spring Lake); and in March at Victory United Methodist Church on Old State Road in Cato. All services will begin at 10:30 a.m. On Feb. 3, there will be a fellowship pancake breakfast beginning at 9:30 a.m. All are invited, but we would urge you to stay for the worship service!

We have recently learned that Zimbabwe, Africa, where we spent our 2015 and 2017 mission time, is in new unrest. The price of gasoline has been raised to $12 a gallon, leading to riots, fires and general disruption. While most people do not have cars, gasoline is still essential for generators and general deliveries. The people and the missions there continue to be in our prayers. These are wonderfully resilient people who have suffered greatly under extreme leadership.

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Joni Lincoln is the historian of the town of Conquest. She can be reached at (315) 776-4726.

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