Niagara Gazette

Opinion

January 6, 2014

HIGGS: St. Paul's Methodist continues to grow

Niagara Gazette — It may be 2014 and a new year, but we are learning about Methodism on the Niagara Frontier, with excerpts from its historical documents.

During the period 1872 to 1919, St. Paul’s Church formed many internal clubs and societies such as the Ladies’ Aid and Home and Foreign Missionary Societies, a Men’s Club, another women’s group, The Pierson Class organized in 1892 as a teaching aid which continued after the teacher, Mr. A. W. Pierson passed away in 1910 as the Cui Bono Class as a women’s class. It later became a mixed class and excelled in assisting the church with its financial needs. The class also provided entertainment of an outstanding character, enjoyed by the entire church.

In 1916, the Rev. George Hares encouraged the church to begin the “new St. Paul’s” on Seventh Street. Many of the church elders were ready to begin construction and Bishop William Burt felt that Niagara Falls warranted a great convention church with modern equipment for community service and it should serve as a model to others. He assured the board he would try to secure the funding for doing a first-class structure from the Board of Missions and Church Extension. Architects were selected, plans were submitted and approval was obtained for $60,000. The Board of Missions urged the members to raise the $100,000 remaining and not to build an inadequate structure for less.

It was a struggle as some of the promised funds did not materialize and finally St. Paul’s held two local financial campaigns in April 1920 and 1922 and secured $96,232 in cash and pledges to cover a period of seven years. Other problems were overcome and the building was completed by Wright and Kremers after a construction time of two and a half years. The Community House or Education Wing was completed first and chairs were set up in the second floor gymnasium in order to conduct worship. Pews, stained glass and the pulpit from the “old Saint Paul’s’ were used in the new construction. The new St. Paul’s was dedicated in August of 1923. The entire cost, including the parsonage at Seventh Street and Augustus Place was $276,746 and encumbered a debt of $170,000. The trustees were obligated personally under the terms of the mortgage for responsibility of the entire debt over the 25 years; they were hailed as “good and faithful servants.”

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