Niagara Gazette — Eyes were misty and some tears fell as leaders of the 91st Street Church of the Nazarene gathered recently to talk about the last service they will hold in their church on Sunday.
Sharing coffee and memories in the church basement, five people who spent so many of their Sundays inside the red brick building at the corner of 91st Street at Pasadena Avenue, imagined locking the doors on the 72-year-old congregation. The building, owned by the Upstate New York Church of the Nazarene, will be put up for sale.
Tears slipped down the cheeks of church secretary Betty Brant as she considered attending church elsewhere. "We know we can go anyplace to serve our Lord," Brant said. "But there's a warm and loving feeling in this building."
Betty and her husband, George, the head trustee, have helped to lead the church for most of their 43-year marriage. Betty is church secretary and George sits on the board. "We found the Lord here, together," Betty said.
Efforts to save the church proved fruitless despite neighborhood outreach that included Easter egg hunts, family movies and knocking on doors, members said. The church has been without a full-time pastor since last year.
"We just can't get people in the doors," said the Rev. Linda Aaserud, who has been filling in on Sunday's and whose husband, David Aaserud, was the pastor for two terms since 1973.
"I've spent a lot of time thinking about how this church could have been turned around," noted David, who blames the decline in membership on Love Canal, the environmental disaster which forced the destruction of Griffon Manor, an apartment complex where many of the church members lived. He has been given the challenging duty of finding words of comfort when he gives the sermon on the closing Sunday. He plans to quote the Ecclesiastes about there being "a time to live and a time to die."