Bacon Memorial Presbyterian Church (Submitted Photo)
Mon Jul 18, 2022 12:25 PM
Opening of Church on 59th Street/LaSalle Neighborhood Commemorated with 100 Year Celebration Event
Retrospective presented by Pastor Lisa Giacomazza
“Serving Christ and the Community Since 1922” is the theme for the Bacon Memorial Presbyterian Church’s 100th Anniversary Celebration Event to be held on Saturday, July 23 for members and friends of the community. The church opened in 1922 and continues to serve in the same location today. The church grounds were part of a fruit farm and were donated by the family of the late Jonathan Bowen.
In 1910, a Sunday school was started in a tent on James Singer’s property on Evershed Avenue (now 56th Street). Later he moved to the Evershed School basement on Ericsson Place (now 57th Street). When that was no longer available, congregants built a community house on Morris Avenue (now 59th Street). When this became overcrowded, part of the Sunday school moved to a fire station on Stephenson Avenue at 57th Street. The ladies spent Saturday evenings cleaning the spittoons and making the hall presentable for Sunday school.
In 1922, LaSalle was an independent village whose president was George Stone, a member of the congregation. The western boundary of the village of LaSalle was 56th Street. The first church in this area of the village, known as Evershed, began holding services in 1922. Called the Third Presbyterian Church, it was a union of a Presbyterian church organized on March 5, 1906, at the 27th and East Falls Street and the Evershed Union Sunday School. The merged church was located in the basement of the Morris Avenue Community House. By this time the church had outgrown its one-room structure, and Sunday school met in the Evershed fire station.
In its early days, the living seed of faith was planted and struggled to survive under the loving care of dedicated lay people in the Evershed community. It was not the ministers or the presbytery who founded the church, but a group of dedicated Christians, many of whom were inspired by a Billy Sunday Crusade. Services were conducted from 1922 to 1925 by lay leaders. Reverend Robert Parkhill served from 1925 to 1926 and Reverend J. Melvin Keys served from 1927 to 1928. Finally, the church was able to call Reverend John K. Borneman and his wife, Elizabeth, who worked diligently to establish a solid foundation for the church. They received strong support from the First Presbyterian Church under the leadership of Dr. Albert S. Bacon and Reverend Albertus Van Raalte, who designed the college system and provided great financial support to Bacon Memorial Church. With a budget of about $7,000, Bacon Memorial received $5,000 a year from First Church.
In 1929, First Presbyterian was sufficiently interested in the growth of the LaSalle church to sponsor a new building and merge the two congregations. In 1930, after Reverend Bacon’s death and in recognition of his services, Third Presbyterian Church changed its name to Albert S. Bacon Memorial Church.
Bacon Memorial has established itself over the years as a cornerstone of the Lasallian community and remains so today.
I am honored to lead this church in its next 100 years of service and ministry. I have had the privilege of being approached by people in town who tell me about their childhoods hanging out with youth groups, participating in sports teams, and attending Sunday school with their families. They tell how their family came to worship each week, and how their parents and grandparents served the church throughout the years. I thank all those who have taken great care to preserve our history and I am delighted to celebrate all those dedicated disciples who have gone before us.
Today, the church continues to serve the Niagara Falls community with many outreach programs such as “Bacons Blessings,” which provides much-needed products for those struggling to meet the needs of their families. Our membership has grown over the past few years, despite the challenges of gathering in person due to the pandemic. We have grown our ministry through online programs and member participation in programs such as the Niagara Arts and Cultural Centre, Habitat for Humanity, and the Lighthouse Project (formerly the Magdalene Project). We continue to do whatever it takes to love and support each other and our community.
The celebration will take place from 5 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, July 23 at the Volare Lodge, 56th Street in Niagara Falls, where a dinner/dance will take place. Many photographs and historical information related to the rich history of the church will be on display, including the building’s cornerstone time capsule.
Bacon Memorial Presbyterian Church is a member of PCUSA and Western New York Presbytery. We are a small, established church located at 166 59th St. in the city of Niagara Falls. We have a membership of approximately 135 members today, and growing. We provide services to our community, our members and offer Sunday school for children and worship services every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. – in person and live on Facebook, as well as on YouTube. We partner with and support other established community programs such as the Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity and The Lighthouse Project. The church is overseen by its session of 12 seated elders, and a board of deacons provide ministry and outreach.
Lisa Giacomazza is a former mandated leader who has been at Bacon Memorial since 2019.