Gary Wolcott and the Rev. Susan Crane.

FARMINGTON — The Rev. Susan Crane and her husband, Gary Wolcott, were recently honored for their service to Henderson Memorial Baptist Church and the community.

Henderson’s congregation and community friends gathered in recognition of her retirement from HMBC on Dec. 15. Crane has served as pastor of the church for more than 17 years, one of only three pastors in the church’s history to serve over a long-term period.
During her tenure as pastor, which started July 1, 2002, Crane was instrumental in starting two large ministries designed to help the local community. An ecumenical heating fund, ECU-HEAT, began in 2005 and the Warming Center in 2009, said John Anderson, church moderator, as he voiced highlights of her service during the luncheon and program.
Crane will continue in her role as coordinator for the ECU HEAT fund, sponsored by the Farmington Area Ecumenical Association, said FAEM member, the Rev. David Smith, pastor of Wilton Congregational Church.
In response to winter heating costs, Crane and members of HMBC created a Warming Center where community members can go to the church for a lunch, heat and fellowship January through March. Other churches liked the idea and wanted to help, Crane said. The Warming Center is now held two days a week with HMBC, Old South and St. Joseph’s Catholic Church opening their doors. The program begins its 12th year in January, with Henderson sponsoring the center on Tuesdays and Old South on Thursdays.
Crane worked with members of other churches and the community to establish a homeless shelter in Farmington.  She wrote grants to establish the Matthew 25 fund, which provides money for security deposits, giving the homeless a second chance at maintaining their own apartment or home.
She came to Henderson during a troubled time for the church and helped members regain community and trust over those first few years, he said. She helped the church celebrate its 200th anniversary in 2010. Under her leadership, many improvements have been made to the church building, many undertaken to bring things up to code and to meet current safety standards, Anderson said.
New heating alternatives replaced large oil bills for the large, downtown church. Numerous upgrades to the sound system helped members hear the service better and, in 2019, an addition to the church provided space for a lift helping those who find stairs difficult reach two floors.
Crane and the congregation invited Summit Faith to share the space and costs for maintaining the building in 2012, an agreement that has worked well for both congregations.
The congregation acknowledged Wolcott for leading a Bible study group for several years and for running the technical sound system in recent years. Both were given gifts and congregation members voiced their appreciation for the couple’s efforts.

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