The Cortland County Council of Churches was first established as the Cortland City Council of Churches in 1935 and reorganized in 1947 to welcome member churches from all of Cortland County. The Council was formed “to express in all possible ways the essential unity of the Christian Church; to provide an interdenominational agency for cooperation of the churches . . .; and to study the religious needs of the county and devise plans through which these needs can be met.” While the expression of the Council’s purpose through programs, services, and activities has evolved over time to meet changing needs and interests, the Council’s purpose has remained essentially the same.
In the early days, the Council of Churches provided opportunities for the churches to collaborate on Christian education, evangelism, and social action. Originally a Protestant organization, the Council later expanded to include the Roman Catholic community. Beyond ecumenical cooperation among the County’s churches, the Council has always been committed to promoting interfaith activities. That remains true today. Each year, the Council sponsors several interfaith events to promote understanding and respect for the faith of others.
Soon after the Council’s reorganization in 1947, the need for a Protestant Campus Minister to serve the students, faculty, and staff at SUNY Cortland emerged as a priority. Since that time, the Council of Churches has continuously invested its resources to this endeavor, and in 2009, the 60th Anniversary of Protestant Campus Ministry at SUNY Cortland will be celebrated.
The Cortland County Council of Churches has a long and proud tradition of bringing together local congregations to reach beyond themselves in joint ministry to the community and the campus. The Council has played a unique role in ecumenical and interfaith relations for more than 70 years and will continue to do so as it moves into the future.