Niagara Gazette

Opinion

January 13, 2014

HIGGS: Bringing St. Paul's into the present

Niagara Gazette — We continue to find that St. Paul’s Methodist Church was strongly linked with the fortunes of Niagara Falls, but first we need to go a bit to 1948 and the time of the 25th anniversary and the booklet I have been referring to. We find that 97 groups within the church and several outside used its buildings. Some were Seventh Day Adventists, Band Girl Scouts, Commandery, DuPont Chorus and others. Some days there were 10 individual organizations utilizing the church buildings. Worship services were held every Sunday and the Thursday Lenten Services brought men of national and international eminence.

The kitchen was made available for all groups and it was overseen by the Women’s Society of Christian Service and the Boy Scouts had their own quarters in the basement. At the time of this writing, new windows were contemplated in the sanctuary. Plans for a new altar, new lights and other updates in the chapel were also in the works.

The collapse of the Schoellkopf power plant into the Niagara Gorge in 1956 was an economic disaster for local industry. When the Niagara Power project was built in Lewiston from 1958 to 1962 it was only a temporary reprieve for the area. Population continued to decline over the next 30 years as children left in search of employment and residents started to move to the suburbs.

St. Paul’s decided to follow suit and began a satellite ministry in the Lewiston area, called “St. Paul’s by the Meadows.” They first held meetings at Stella Niagara and then a social hall and office/classroom complex was completed at River Road and Pletcher Road in 1972. The planned sanctuary was never started.

I called friend and fellow volunteer with the Niagara Beautification Commission, Cal Babcock, who joined St. Paul’s in 1967, when he was appointed assistant pastor to the Rev. Donald Peck. Cal gave me some thoughts which I shall pass along.

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