What is known as the South End or Nineteenth Ward of Syracuse, with a population of 10,000 and a church of almost every denomination known within its precincts, was twenty-five years ago called Brighton or the Eleventh Ward.
Sunday, December 22, 1889, under the leadings of God's Holy Spirit, was the beginning of what is now known as the Lafayette Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church. On that date was organized in Good Templar's Hall on West Brighton Avenue, Brighton Mission, under the fostering care of Furman Street Church, with the Rev. W. H. York preacher in charge, and the Rev. W. H. Annable, presiding elder of Syracuse District.
This movement was the outcome of a deep need of the work. At the first service the Rev. W. H. York preached to a congregation which crowded the seating capacity of the hall. Services were held regularly thereafter on Sabbath afternoons. On Thursday evening, November 6, 1890, the first prayer meeting was held, which was continued from that time. On Sunday, September 28, 1890, the first Sunday School was organized, with six classes and forty-eight scholars. Mr. C. W. C. Howe (who was and is still one of the efficient laymen of Furman Street) was the first superintendent, and Mr. W. E. Barker assistant.
In 1891 the Mission was adopted by the Methodist Union of Syracuse. The Rev. W. H. Annable was placed in charge of this new Mission in October, 1891, and it became a part of the City Misison Churches.
In November, 1891, the Union purchased the property on Lafayette Avenue, having a sixty-six-foot front on Lafayette Avenue and extending back with a thirty-three-foot front on Corning Avenue. On this was located a small structure, which is our present beginners' room. The price paid was $1,200.00. It had been occupied as a mission by the Fourth Baptist Church.
During the winter of 1891, under the efficient leadership of Harlow B. Andrews, a gracious revival broke out which resulted in the conversion of nearly eighty people, the majority of whom united with the Church. In May, 1892, our present Epworth League room was dedicated to the worship of God and served as our auditorium for six years. Soon after this services were changed from afternoon to 10:30 A. M., with Sunday School at 12 M. and evening service at 7:30. We then felt that traveling days without sidewalks to Furman Street were over. How happy and proud were the faithful few who had labored and prayed so unitedly and untiringly to bring it to pass! God did wonderfully pour out His blessing upon us and made us to feel that surely it was a vine of His own planting.
At the following October session of the Central New York Conference the Mission was organized into a charge with seventy members, including probationers. The Rev. W. H. Annable was appointed preacher in charge.
At a meeting held on March 8, 1893, the society was incorporated and the following were elected trustees: D. A. Young, W. E. Seymour, W. A. Fulmer, for three years; M. L. Young, Isaac VanVleck, for two years; J. J. Young, Hugh Harper, for one year. The incorporate name was "Lafayette Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church." The first class leader appointed was J. J. Young, and the first Sunday School superintendent W. W. Young. The first board of stewards was composed of L. R. Button, G. W. Button, G. Saxety, G. B. Wright, Willis Wadsworth, W. E. Seymour and W. W. Young. W. E. Seymour and L. R. Button have served continuously since.
During the pastorate of the Rev. W. H. Annable in 1893 the first Epworth League was organized with seven members, M. L. Young being elected president. The first Ladies' Aid Society was organized in 1895 when Rev. W. S. Wright was pastor. Mrs. Jennie Button (now deceased) was president.
Union revival services were held during the winter of 1896 under the leadership of the Rev. M. S. Reese and wife, which resulted in a large ingathering of souls and additions to the church.
In 1898, with the Rev. A. E. Hall as pastor, our parsonage on Corning Avenue was built at a cost of $2,300.00, and in the same year the present auditorium was built at a cost of $7,000.00. The cornerstone was laid July 4, 1898, by the Rev. B. I. Ives. The dedicatory sermon was preached by Rev. C. N. Sims, D. D., in the spring of 1899.
So rapid was the growth that in 1911, Rev. F. M. Williams, pastor, the seating capacity for the Sunday School being so overtaxed it was decided to excavate under the edifice and provide more room by the addition of a basement. This affords a Sunday School room for the Juniors seating 200, is also used as a dining-room and for social gatherings, a well equipped kitchen, toilets, and a steam heating plant at an expenditure of $3,000.00, making our church very comfortable and complete. Also about this time the vacant lot to the west was purchased, adding sixty-six feet to our frontage, making a total of 132 feet, thus providing plenty of room for additions as the work demands.
The pastors in their order are as follows: Revs. W. H. Annable, W. S. Wright, A. E. Hall, J. R. Drake, F. Hamilton, W. H. Latimer, F. M. Williams and R. DeWitt Stanley.
God has watched over this field for "Surely goodness and mercy have followed us all these days," and the sacrifices and arduous labors have surely been blessed to our good and we are looking forward to even greater things in the future—that we may continue to grow and increase until the great and glorious apeparing [sic] of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,
Mrs. Gilbert B. Wright,
One of the Charter Members
1. "Historical", La Fayette Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church Directory, Syracuse, N. Y., July 1914, pages 2-5.
See AlsoLaFayette Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church 1914 Directory