About The Park Church
The Park Church is a place filled with a proud history within Elmira. The following characteristics highlight a portion of the heritage that made the church a strong Christian presence within the community.
Christian Conscience: The Park Church began in 1846. This beginning related directly to the slavery issue. On the Second of January of that year, forty-one members left the First Presbyterian Church to form a religious body fully resolved of Christian conscience to support the abolitionist stance.
Christian Education: The church developed a dynamic Sunday School that flourished, attracting hundreds of children within the community. Under the leadership of the Rev. Thomas K. Beecher and his wife, Julia, the church developed a comprehensive program that was referred to as "educational conversion" and included a great emphasis upon scripture and music, but also various other ideas not usually considered a part of religious education.
Christian Mission & Outreach: Several of the founding members of the congregation assisted with the Elmira "station" of the Underground Railroad. In addition to those who directly served on the "Railroad," all of the members supported the anti-slavery movement by using their various gifts, whether they were in the form of time, talent or finances. After the Civil War, this same energy and commitment continued, but became focused on caring for the town's needy (especially widows), orphans, and the aged.
The people who make up The Park Church today are, in many ways, very similar to the ones who founded and developed it in the past. It sustains its heritage as a strong Christian presence within the community as the following characteristics illustrate.
Christian Conscience: Continuing its 150 plus year tradition of being a church with a Christian social conscience, it voted to become an "Open and Affirming Congregation" at a Congregational Meeting on 29 October, 2000. The "Open & Affirming" program means that the church welcomes all people to worship and participate in its communal life, regardless of ethnic origin, race, class, age, ability, gender, or sexual orientation.
Christian Education: The Christian Education program includes opportunities for all ages. There is an active and growing Sunday School as well as a youth group. Our adult education program is also making a come back with small group discussions and a new committee.
Christian Mission & Outreach: The congregation continues its long tradition of service by participating in and supporting numerous programs and projects. Members currently assist by volunteer work and/or financial support for over eighty different agencies and organizations on a local, national, and international scope. We directly support the Community Kitchen and Second Place East, Habitat for Humanity, and a mission in Guatemala.
The Park Church looks forward to a bright and promising future. Laid upon a strong historical foundation of Christian commitment and service, the congregation seeks to discern a vision of what God calls it to become. As that vision emerges, we also search for ways to manifest that vision in how we live and act as a people of God.
Christian Education: Our "Ministry of Christian Education" seeks new ways to nurture member' life of faith, address current issues, and develop faithful Christian actions to them that respond in love and compassion. This committee looks for ways to provide programs that educate learners and seekers of all ages within our congregation.
Christian Mission & Outreach: Our "Ministry of Public Mission" constantly seeks out new projects or programs that members can support in various ways. Whether it means a gift of time, talent or money, the congregation remains deeply committed to reaching out to the local community and the larger world in the name of Jesus Christ.
Come and Join Us!
We extend the hand of Christian Fellowship to you! We invite you to come and join us as we, the people who are The Park Church, embark on the next leg of our journey!