Niagara Gazette


March 28, 2014

91st Street Church of the Nazarene will hold its last service on Sunday.


Niagara Gazette —

"We're not the first church to die and won't be the last,"  he said. 

At 10:30 a.m. on Sunday,  when members participate in the last service,  it will be exactly 63 years to the day that the first service was held in the church. Upon the church's closing, the congregation has been invited to join their daughter-church, Faith Community Church of the Nazarene, at 3520 Saunders Settlement Road in Sanborn, which was started by former members of the 91st Street church. 

The Nazarene denomination holds similar beliefs to the Methodist church, but members say they distinguish themselves through a belief in a "personal savior" and emphasis on missionary service.

According to district superintendent, the Rev. David Sharpes, who oversees Nazarene churches throughout the state outside of the New York City area, the closing does not mean the end for the church's presence in Niagara Falls.  Once the building and parsonage are sold, much of that money is intended for a new church.  "We have every intention of restarting a church in Niagara Falls," Sharpes said.

Doreen Woods has been a member at the 91st Street church since she was 3-years-old. "I cry a lot," she said of the closing, but added she will be happy to take a break from the church treasurer duties she's handled for 35 years. "It won't change my life," she noted. "I'll just have to go further to church."  

It appears most or all of the 25 members will be joining the 75-member Sanborn church.  The welcome there will be warm, said its pastor, the Rev. Wayne Hokanson. "What we've been telling them is we're disappointed about they're having to close but we're glad they're coming," he said. In an attempt to make the new members feel at home, there will be fellowship gatherings before Sunday services throughout April so old and new members have a chance to meet.

The Falls church leaders are grateful to have a church home, but say they will always have a special place in their hearts for the 91st Street building.

Betty's husband, George, his eyes misting, stoically likened the closing to natural growth cycles, noting "It's time to mow a new field and start harvesting that field. That's how we will grow. That's how the church will grow."



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