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Spiritual Connections

By Press Release

Arbor House, 350 Bank St., Batavia. We are a community of believers and disciples of Jesus Christ. Arbor House was founded to be a place of safety, refreshment, and renewal for all. Each week we gather to hear the spoken Word, eat from the Lord’s Table, and enjoy fellowship with all who come. If you have been hurt by a church before we want to be the place where you can find healing and hope. All are welcome! Service will be in person on Sunday morning at 10 a.m. and available live stream on Facebook. For more information about Arbor House visit

Alabama-Basom Methodist Church, 1392 Lewiston Road, Alabama. Join us for worship at 10:30 a.m. This week our sermon title is "3 in 1", led by Eric Phelps (CLM). 

Ascension Parish - Roman Catholic Church, 135 Swan St., Batavia. We are open for Mass in the Church on Saturdays at 4 p.m. and Sundays at 10:30 a.m. We hope to see you there! 

Assemblies of God-New Covenant Chapel, 6690 Oak Orchard Rd., Elba.14058. We welcome all seeking a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ through His finished work on The Cross with The Power of The Holy Spirit. John 3:16. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you want a small, close-knit church family and a place to make a difference, please join us. Worship Service is Sunday at 10:30 a.m. Bible Study Sunday at 9:30 a.m. and Thursday at 7 p.m. Contact us at (585)-757-6651 (585)-969-1528 or visit us on Youtube.

Batavia Assembly of God, 24 North Spruce St, Batavia. Join us for coffee in our café before our Sunday morning service that begins at 10:30 a.m. We offer "Movement Kids" (age 4 - grade 5) at 10:30 a.m. and "MVMT YTH" (grades 6-12) meet on Sunday nights at 7 p.m.

Batavia First Baptist Church, 306 E. Main St., Pastor David Weidman, where "Christ the Center, Love for All" is very evident to all who enter. We invite you to our Full Gospel Sunday services at 10 a.m.; The Thrift Shoppe is open Monday-Friday from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m., come and browse in our beautifully renovated space. Donations are accepted during business hours. You can also enjoy a light lunch at Lydia's Kitchen while you shop. Questions? Email: Call us at (585)343-9002.

Batavia First Presbyterian Church, 300 E. Main St., Batavia, invites you to join us for in-person worship on Sundays at 9 a.m. (Arise-relaxed with band music) or 10:45 a.m. (Sanctuary -liturgical and organ) or on Livestream via Facebook Live for both times at:  or

Batavia First United Methodist Church, 8221 Lewiston Road, Batavia. Our mission & vision statement:  “To be disciples, we must listen, learn, lead, and love our way to God.” Reverend Wayne Mort leads our worship service every Sunday morning at 10 a.m. in the church sanctuary. Childcare is offered for children birth-3 years old and Sunday school is offered for children ages 4-14 years old. You can also find the service on Facebook. We invite you to learn more about Batavia First UMC by visiting our website at

Byron Presbyterian Church, 6293 W. Main St., Byron. Pastor: Rev. Michael Fry. Musical Director: Laurence Tallman. Service and Sunday School at 9:45 a.m. Scripture Reading: Romans 8:14-17 and Isaiah 6:1-8. Message: “You Are Called”. We will celebrate the sacrament of Baptism for Meredith Margaret Beckwith, and Communion. All are welcome.

Calvary Baptist Church of Le Roy, 8703 Lake Street Road, Le Roy.  If you do not already have a church that you attend regularly, we would like to invite you to give Calvary Baptist Church a try.  It would be a pleasure to have you join us for worship and fellowship on a Sunday morning or at one of our other mid-week events. As a multi-generational congregation that enjoys our time together, our Sunday worship service typically includes singing a mix of both traditional and contemporary songs and hymns, a children’s message, and a sermon from the Word of God. Our Sunday worship service begins at 10:15 a.m.

City Church, 210 E. Main St., Batavia, invites you for our Sunday morning services at 8:30 and 10 a.m. with Kids ministry at 10 a.m. and Thursday evenings at 7 p.m.  Everyone is welcome to join us for worship and a message. We believe in doing life together and would love to do life with YOU!  You can also connect with us online at, through our Facebook page, The City Church, or our YouTube channel.  We do life together.

Corfu United Presbyterian Church 63 Alleghany Road, Corfu. Corfu United Presbyterian Church welcomes all visitors to come to worship with us on Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m. in person or via our Facebook livestream led by Pastor Evan Wildhack. Our mission at CUPC is to connect with Christ, connect with others, and connect others with Christ. Weekly Bible study is held on Monday evenings at 6:30 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall. CUPC's food pantry is open on the third Saturday of the month from 9 - 10 a.m. Contact the church office by phone at (585) 599-6414 or via email at Office hours are Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Cornerstone Church of East Pembroke, part of American Baptist Churches USA, 2583 Main Road, East Pembroke. Our Sunday service is at 10:30 a.m. with Pastor Glenn Bloom preaching. Bible Study is every Wednesday at 10 a.m. We are a small church and welcome new members. (585) 762-8721

Darien Disciples Church, 1951 Broadway (Route 20), worship at 9 a.m. on Sundays. Prayer requests to Jerry at:

Discovery Chapel, 315 West Main Street, Batavia. Pastor Ingrim Green's services are on Sundays at 10 a.m. "Let's Talk Real Talk the Gospel For Real Life." Visit our website for more information.

East Bethany Presbyterian Church, 5735 Ellicott Street Road, East Bethany. Our Sunday morning worship service is held at 10:30 a.m. and is led by Rev. Dr. Shiela McCullough. Visitors are always welcome. You can find out more information on our Facebook page or by emailing us at

Elba First Baptist Church, 31 S. Main St., Elba, is open for the main service in person at 10:45 a.m. on Sundays. For more information about our church go to The pastor is Michael Davis. Email: / Phone (585) 757-2722

Emmanuel Baptist Church, 190 Oak St., Batavia. We would love to have you join us for our regular Sunday worship at 11 a.m. this weekend! We are trekking through the book of Acts and learning Don't Lie to God. There is also a bible study at 9:45 a.m. with free coffee and cookies. Unfortunately, if you still wanted a spot in the Community Garden and didn't call or email the church, they are all taken!  

EverPresent Church, 4 Batavia City Centre, Batavia(off of Bank Street). We welcome you to come to experience the Holy Spirit in a fresh way. Jesus wants to set you free from your bondages. Wednesday Service at 6 p.m. & Sunday Service at 10:30 a.m., Toddlers dismissed at 10:15 a.m., Children's Church dismissed after 2nd Worship Song. For more info visit 

Grace Baptist Church, 238 Vine St., Batavia. Sunday Morning Worship begins at 9:30 a.m. Grace Kids for ages nursery – 5th grade meets during the 9:30 hour. The service is live-streamed at or view it on our Facebook page: Grace Baptist. Kid Zone & Grace Student Ministries meet on Sunday evenings from 6-7:30 p.m. Visit our website or our Facebook page for other events happening throughout the year. 

Indian Falls Methodist Church, 7908 Alleghany Road, Corfu. We have our worship service at 10 a.m. on Sunday mornings, led by Rev. Karen L. McCaffery.  This week's message is "The Faithful". To view our services online please go to our website for a link for Live Streaming. We offer Sunday School for all ages after the Worship Service at 11:30 a.m. Our Youth Group meets on the 1st & 3rd Sundays of the month from 6:30 - 8 p.m.  We offer a FREE Community Dinner on Thursday, May 23 at 6 p.m.

Le Roy First Presbyterian Church, 7 Clay St., Le Roy. Sunday morning in-person worship at 10 a.m. followed by coffee fellowship. We are an open and accepting church of all people.

Morganville United Church of Christ, 8466 Morganville Rd, Stafford. Are you looking to experience a traditional church service, visit us Sunday at 10 a.m. We are a “God is still speaking” church. Our own Maria Dentino will share her sermon “For God So Loved the World” based on John 3:16. Friend us on Facebook! 

North Darien Bible Church, 9768 Simonds Road, Corfu. We are open! Sunday worship service begins at 10 a.m. Children's Church classes are available for children ages birth through sixth grade, including a classroom for children with special needs. For more information, visit our website. You can also watch LIVE on our Facebook or YouTube channel. Join us from 9 a.m. to noon on the first Saturday of every month for our free community closet, full of clothing, coats, and shoes for all. (585) 547-9646.

Northgate Free Methodist Church, 8160 Bank Street Road (North Campus), Batavia. Would you like to hear some good news? We're going to hear a lot about the good news that God has for us in our next series based on the books of 1st and 2nd Timothy. We hope you'll join us for a series we're calling "No matter what: remaining true to the Gospel." Join us on Saturdays at 6 p.m. and Sunday mornings at 9:30 and 11 a.m. For more information about Northgate Free Methodist Church and to watch our services online go to or

Oakfield-Alabama Baptist Church, 2210 Judge Road., Oakfield. Join us for Sunday School for all ages at 9:45 a.m., followed by our worship service at 11 a.m. every Sunday! Visit our website ( for additional information about our church, our beliefs, upcoming activities, and past messages. Men’s and Ladies’ Bible studies also meet on Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. on the church grounds. We look forward to worshiping and fellowshipping with you! Questions? Email Pastor Matt Ervin at

Oakfield Community Bible Church, 82 North Main St. Oakfield. This Weeks (May 26) “Oakfield Community Bible Church” Memorial Day Weekend, Sunday Worship Service is at 11:15 a.m., with Praise & Worship Music by Keith Burroughs & Andrew Lacey. The morning message by Pastor, Timothy Young; entitled: “God's Armor: Part 5”.  With Scripture:  Ephesians 6:10-20 (NKJV). Our Adult Sunday School is at 10 a.m., along with “Sunday School through Age-16”.  There will be a Time of “Fellowship Together” following our Worship Service!  Bible Study is held on Thursday Morning at 10 a.m. Come out and Join Us. ALL ARE WELCOME!

Our Lady of Mercy (44 Lake St. LeRoy) & St. Brigid (18 Gibson St. Bergen) parishes; Parish Office - 44 Lake Street, Le Roy. Weekend Masses Saturday at 4:30 p.m. (livestreamed); Sunday at 7:15 a.m., 10:45 a.m. (livestreamed), and 5:30 p.m. at Our Lady of Mercy. Also, Sunday at 9 a.m. at St. Brigid. Daily Masses Monday-Friday at 7:30 a.m. (livestreamed) and Saturday at 9 a.m. at Our Lady of Mercy and Tuesday and Thursday at 8:30 a.m. at St. Brigid. View on YouTube and Facebook. Please visit the parish website (

Resurrection Parish (St. Mary and St. Joseph churches in Batavia). St. Joseph’s Church masses are on Saturdays at 4 p.m. and Sundays at noon. Confessions are held at St. Joe's on Saturdays from 3 - 3:30 p.m. St. Mary's Church mass is on Sundays at 7:30 a.m. Vigil & Holy Days to be announced.

St. James Episcopal Church, 405 E. Main St., Batavia. Join us on Sundays at 9 a.m. on zoom, 10 a.m. in the church building, and on Facebook Live. Links and the bulletin can be found on our website:

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 1 E. Main St., Le Roy, is open for in-person services at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays. Communion will be offered to people in their seats and will only include bread. We welcome you to join us -- either in person or online. For more information, visit our website.

St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish, 18 W. Main St., Corfu. Weekend Masses are celebrated: Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at the Corfu Church Site; and at 9 a.m. Sunday at the East Pembroke Church site, 8656 Church St., East Pembroke. Weekday Masses are celebrated on: Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. in East Pembroke and Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Corfu followed by Adoration. Corfu Masses are also available for viewing on our YouTube channel. All information is on the church website and on Facebook. Email: (585)-599-4833.

St. Padre Pio Parish, St. Cecilia, 56 Maple Ave., Oakfield Mass is celebrated on Sundays at 10 a.m. and Wednesdays at 7 p.m. OR Our Lady of Fatima Church, 65 S. Main St., Elba, Mass is celebrated on Saturdays at 5:45 p.m. and Tuesdays at 7 p.m.

St Paul’s Episcopal Church, 6188 Main Road, Stafford. In-person service, including Holy Communion, is at 9 a.m. Sunday mornings. All  Are Welcome. 

St. Paul Lutheran Church, Batavia, 31 Washington Ave, Batavia. This coming Sunday (May 26) we will celebrate Holy Trinity/Pentecost 2 Sunday. The sermon theme: “Born Of The Spirit” is based on the scripture from John 3:3-8.   Adult Bible Class meets at 8:30 a.m. Our service begins at 10 a.m. or can be viewed 'live' on Facebook. Our Youth class meets at 9:30 a.m. Sunday School children will attend the service through the children's sermon and will then go to their Sunday school rooms for their studies. Communion is part of the service on the 2nd and 4th Sundays. Our Quilters group meets on Tuesdays from 9 - 11 a.m. God continues to bless us richly as we focus on Him and His plans for our congregation and community.

The Church In Alexander, 10540 Main St., Alexander. Join us for Sunday Worship at 10 a.m. weekly. For more information please visit our website at We offer a Free Food Pantry for people in our community, please call ahead if you need items from our pantry. For more information on Programs and services please contact us at (585)591-1765 or by email at Church office hours are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8:15 - 11:15 a.m.

Trinity United Methodist Church, 75 Main St. in Attica, worships together at 10:45 a.m. on Sundays. All are welcome! Contact Frank White at for a ZOOM link or for prayer requests.


"Spiritual Connections" -- The Batavian will post updates to connect people with their places of worship, religious services, fellowship opportunities, and/or spiritual advisors, etc. There is no charge for this service.

If you have information to announce, please email:

Jason Upton brings ministry of music to EverPresent Church on April 26

By Press Release
jason upton

Press release:

Jason Upton is a singer/songwriter with the heart of a pastor. 

Whether Jason is leading people in worship through singing or speaking, Jason does his best to carry the Father’s heart. 

His songs and his messages reflect a life fully lived in a relationship with God, family and friends. Jason and Key of David Ministries have several recordings available that document Jason and his band expressing the heart of God for His people through song, instrumental spontaneity and spoken word. 

Jason currently lives in Wisconsin with his wife Rachel and their children Samuel, Emma, Lucy and Oliver. 

Upton performs at 7 p.m. on April 26 at EverPresent Church, 4 Batavia City Centre, Batavia.

For more information about Jason Upton and Key of David Ministries, please visit

Seating is very limited, so secure your ticket today.

To purchase tickets, follow this link:

Retired minister, author discusses the appeal and tenacity of Methodist circuit riders

By Joanne Beck
Greg Van Dussen
Author D. Gregory Van Dussen with his latest book, Circuit Rider Devotions.
Photo by Joanne Beck.

People began to nudge Greg Van Dussen in the direction of penning a book while he was writing book reviews and articles, but it wasn’t until he retired as a Methodist minister that he began to take them up on it.

“The minute I retired, in 2011, I started writing my first book — Richard Beatty saw me writing notes furiously on napkins — at (the former Coffee Culture) in Batavia,” Van Dussen said during an interview with The Batavian at his town of Batavia home. “One of the results of these books is the parishioners have said they feel like it’s helped them get in touch with their spiritual roots. That feels very fulfilling. My editor has said no one else is doing this kind of writing.”

His third in a trilogy series of “Circuit Rider Devotions,” has just come out, and they are part of several books on the same topic authored by D. Gregory Van Dussen, the long version, though his friends call him Greg. 

So what drove him to write not one but three voluminous tomes, each approaching 800 pages, about assorted characters from Methodist upbringings traveling to initiate the denomination’s movement across North America?

“I’ve been really fanatically interested in the subject, it was about early Methodist preachers. For my whole adult life, I've been collecting books. So I've got antique books all over the house, biographies, autobiographies, that sort of thing, hymn books. But what really got me into this was, a few years ago, I was asked to teach a workshop in Buffalo on this subject, and it was very well received. And as I was going home, I wondered if anybody would be interested in a book of devotions based on the lives of these people,” he said. “So I contacted four publishers, and they all turned the idea down. And the final one was accepted enthusiastically. And they've been printing all my books since.”

A native of the Rochester area with roots in the suburbs, including Brighton and Spencerport, Van Dussen has had to pick up and move many times as a minister of 39 years, landing in Batavia three separate times, currently living in the east part of town with wife Jackie. He has also been district superintendent for the 54 regional churches and has been an adjunct professor of worship and Celtic spirituality at Roberts Wesleyan and Irish and American history at Brockport State College.

A rather prolific writer, the 76-year-old has completed seven books with plans for more, even if it means obtaining help through Parkinson’s, a diagnosis he received in 2021.

Any outsider paying attention to the trials of circuit riders — bands of preachers traveling around in the crudest of conditions in the early pioneer days braving the elements of weather, poverty, their fellow man, wild animals and disease — can’t help but see a hint of similarity in the author’s own struggle with an illness that he admits has tested his spirits.

He was assisted with Volume 3 of “Circuit Rider Devotions” by a friend and editor, Duane W. Priset. He is receiving physical, occupational, and voice therapies, enduring time spent at home versus going out into the community in his usual affable way and traveling right now. But as any true circuit rider would have testified, Van Dussen is carrying forth his mission.

“I felt there was a message to get out,” he said. “It’s fulfilling a purpose in my life.”

In the foreword, Priset says that Van Dussen brings the reader “head-to-head and heart-to-heart” with widely-known and lesser-known evangelists, pioneer preachers and their spouses, local pastors, lifelong learners, founders, journalists, editors, bishops, university presidents, theologians, hymnists, and missionaries who, in diverse ways and settings, “refreshed the lives of the people throughout the vast and developing countryside of early North America.”

There are 366 entries, many of them about women — a fact that Van Dussen thought may surprise people, especially given the rough and tumble existence of a circuit rider. But women braved the adversities for Jesus Christ just as much as men did, he said. 

There was Julia A.J. Foote, for example, who was not only a woman but an African American, which added another layer of danger and complexity to her task. As with each entry, this one begins with a piece of scripture: "In peace, I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8.

Van Dussen explains that some people encouraged Foote “on the road of discovery and growth,” as others who often unknowingly sought to block her journey. One group seemed to hold her back, yet, ultimately made her stronger while the other pulled her forward, supplying her with a vision of what God could accomplish through her, he said. 

At one point, she shared her first attempts.

“To the glory of God, some did believe and were saved, but many were too wise to be taught by a child — too good to be made better. From this time, many, who had been my warmest friends, and seemed to think me a Christian, turned against me, saying I didn’t know what I was talking about — that there was no such thing as sanctification and holiness in this life — and that the devil had deluded me into self-righteousness. Many of them fought holiness with more zeal and vigor than they did sin.”

Anyone who has enjoyed a “mountain top” encounter with God knows how difficult it can be to relate to someone who has not experienced that, Van Dussen writes. Add to that the understandable incredulity so many have regarding a radical transformation of character, and the skepticism that surfaces when someone young speaks words of wisdom, and you can see what this young woman was up against.”

“Yet when we look at relevant scriptures and read the faith and wisdom in her words, we also can feel the power of her testimony, and rejoice with her,” he writes. 

That passage ends with a small prayer in a soothing, formulaic set-up for each entry. 

Lord, take away from me both undue skepticism and gullibility as I hear people use words to convey that which is beyond words. Keep before me the truth in scripture and the teaching of your spirit, and grant me your life-giving wisdom as I seek to understand and teach in your church and anywhere else you lead me. Let me read in you, and bring peace wherever I go.

And one by one, stories are told, messages shared, prayers recited and scriptures put to practical use through the real lives of people like Julia Foote.  Van Dussen set it up that way to be “manageable chunks" of about a page or page and a half long.

“So that makes it easy for people to get into,” he said. “And I could dig out some of the most interesting parts of what they wrote or what they did, without trying to write full-scale biographies. This book is between the different groups of Methodists. So you might have a Free Methodist, Wesleyan and African Methodist, Episcopal, Canadian residents, whatever, and in the big Methodist church here, and might think they’re all separate and distinct, but they’re also very similar. So this tends to bring the family together, so to speak.”

Those riders would travel 20 miles per day for six to eight weeks at a time in one-year blocks across Canada and the United States, spreading a message, recruiting folks, and opening up Methodist churches. The system was “painfully difficult at times, and tremendously rewarding at other times, he said, while being “very effective in getting the word out and capturing their purpose.”

They developed ways to have connections with one another during the lonely stints on the road, including hosting camp meetings. The closest ones to this area were in a forest in Bergen, with some 16,000 people attending between the years 1850 and 1870, he said. 

Those meetings were rivaled as one of the biggest events only by a camp in the back woods of Kentucky, with no bathroom or cooking facilities, he said. That one drew from 20,000 to 40,000 people, and evoked “a lot of emotional response to the preaching.”

Why brave the real dangers of predatory animals and a conflict with native Indians and diseases such as the cholera epidemic of the early 1830s in the Wild West? It was a matter of faith and Biblical principles.

“They were very evangelistic. So they really felt that it was important to get the word out to everybody they could,” he said. “There were some others that were the Baptists were similar in that respect. And that's probably why in the 19th century, the Baptists and the Methodists were rivals to be the largest churches of the country.”

He cited examples of people who stick out in his mind for their impact, including Peter Cartwright, a circuit rider who stayed in a tavern one night when nothing else was available. A woman asked him to dance, and he agreed as long she would pray with him. On their knees, they prayed, and he was “so effective in marshaling the attention of that crowd, that the next day they formed the first Methodist church of that town of 31 people,” Van Dussen said. 

He obviously has a command of the material, citing the various real-life characters and situations throughout the book. He also has a passion for the craft, as he plans to pursue his next writing project and navigates the hurdles before him.

“We're pretty active, and I'm very active. And I think I've had to give up, at least temporarily. It’s hard. I can't get to church. I can't get to the coffee shop in the morning. I can't go to somebody's house. I haven't been out of this house since I got back from the hospital in the fall, late summer, August,” he said in his gentle whisper of a voice. “However, I'm determined to progress from this in a positive direction. I was actually in hospice care for a short time this fall, and I graduated from there or flunked out of the program. They said, ‘you’re making way too much progress to stay in our program.’”

He is moving onward to his next book about the relationships between the book characters and how they worked to help, teach and inspire one another. Despite their meager lifestyles while on the road, many of these people were brilliant and accomplished later on, having knowledge and insight to share, he said. 

His books are available at the Holland Land Office Museum and

In his review of Van Dussen’s latest book, Elba author Bill Kauffman describes it as “a beautifully written and lovingly conceived daily devotional for ministers — though laypeople will also find it richly rewarding.” 

“I tried to bridge the general reader and the academic reader,” Van Dussen said. “People tell me that I lean more to the academic, and it's really true … but I have found that lots of people are able to grapple with this material and enjoy it.”

Faith Formation program registration is now open

By Press Release

Press Release:

Registration is now open for the 2023-24 Faith Formation Program at Resurrection and Ascension Roman Catholic Parishes in Batavia. The parish families are excited about this joint venture to share our Catholic faith with our families and children.  

All sacramental preparation classes (Reconciliation, First Communion, and Confirmation) will be offered as well as enriching programs for the entire family.

Classes will begin on Sunday, September 10 at 10 a.m. Mass at Ascension Parish, followed by a pancake breakfast, meetings, and of course,  Bingo!  Come and join us!

Please contact Jason Smith from Resurrection Parish at or Ann Pratt from Ascension Parish at for information.

Submitted photos

Photo of Father Matt Zirnheld.
Marty Pratt making the pancake batter.
Photo of Ron Chrzanowksi helping cook.

Parishes open registration for Faith Formation, classes begin Sept. 10

By Press Release

Press Release:

Registration is now open for the 2023-24 Faith Formation Program at Resurrection and Ascension Roman Catholic Parishes in Batavia. The parish families are excited about this joint venture to share our Catholic faith with our families and children.  

All sacramental preparation classes (Reconciliation, First Communion, and Confirmation) will be offered as well as enriching programs for the entire family.

Classes will begin on Sunday, September 10 at 10 a.m. Mass at Ascension Parish, followed by lunch, meetings, and a fun kick-off event!  Come and join us!

Please contact Jason Smith from Resurrection Parish at or Ann Pratt from Ascension Parish at for information.

EverPresent Church in City Centre celebrates 10th anniversary on Sunday

By Jazmyne Boozer
the nortons everpresent church
Jason Norton, Michelle Norton, and their daughter Camilla.
Photo by Howard Owens

When pastors Jason and Michelle Norton began their church at the local YMCA with one other attendee, they had no idea their church would grow. 

“It wasn’t really a church plant,” Jason described. “It was more like a church seedling.”

The church grew slowly. 

Jason recounts some of his stressors were if anyone would show up for that week. Soon one attendee turned into five. From there, the couple moved to the YMCA’s workout room in which they would set up and transform the ordinary gym to a place of worship every Sunday. For three years, the Norton’s called the YMCA their home church. 

Now, some 60 members later and growing, the church is in its permanent home in Batavia. But it wasn’t easy. The Nortons needed to buy the building in order to honor their mortgage plan. The pair decided to launch a building campaign in which locals and others could donate to their cause and help them buy the building. The goal was to raise a whopping $50,000 in two years. 

Through the donations of the local Batavian community and businesses, they were able to raise $20,000 in-house alone. Then, an unexpected donor came up with the balance -- Pastor Greg Locke of Global Vision Bible Church in Mt. Juliette, Tenn.

Locke is known for helping build and donate to Christian churches around the country. He heard about EverPresent’s need for their building and wrote a check for $31,000. 

“At this point now, the church technically has no debt. We own our own space.” Jason said. 

To celebrate the church’s tenure, EverPresent Church is planning on throwing a celebration on Sunday.  All in the community are welcome. Attendees can expect a regular service with guest worship leader Greg Skolaski, a dedication of various ministry leaders followed by hors d'oeuvres. 

“A huge thank you,” the Nortons said to those who would be unable to attend. “The businesses of Batavia over the years, prior to paying off the mortgage, have been very generous. We do basket raffles and fundraisers; they’ve always been super generous with supporting anything that we do. A super huge thank you to every business and all those who live in Batavia and all those who have done what they could to help us be successful.” 

Fourteen Batavia residents accepted into Catholic faith at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Buffalo

By Howard B. Owens

Photos and information submitted by Jason Smith.

Fourteen young people from Ascension and Resurrection parishes in Batavia were confirmed by Bishop Michael Fisher during Mass at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Buffalo. 

Confirmation is one of the seven Sacraments in the Catholic Church.  

The newly confirmed were sealed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to the faith of the Church, signified when the Bishop makes the sign of the cross with chrism oil on their foreheads.  

The sacrament of Confirmation represents full entry into the Catholic Church. Each candidate also chooses a sponsor to support them in their faith journey.


Father Ivan celebrates final mass as a priest at Resurrection Parish

By Howard B. Owens
father ivan Trujillo
Father Ivan Trujillo celebrated his final mass as a Catholic priest on Sunday at Resurrection Parish.
Photos by Steve Ognibene.

After 36 years as a priest in Batavia, Father Ivan Trujillo performed his last mass as an active priest at Resurrection Parish on Sunday.

Father Ivan arrived in Batavia in 1986 at St. Mary's and became parish priest when St. Mary's and St. Joe's merged in 2008.

Over his nearly four decades of service to the community, Father Ivan has led a migrant ministry, a prison ministry, and served at the VA Hospital.

Trujillo was ordained in Jamestown in 1990 and became an assistant at St. Mary's in 1986. 

As a young man in Bolivia, Trujillo was inspired both to the ministry and to serve the poor. While studying philosophy in school, he was mentored by the rector, who was a Jesuit with a passion for caring for poor people.  That example led Trujillo into the ministry, the priest told The Batavian in 2013.

As a result, a good deal of Father Ivan's work in Western New York has been with the poor and less fortunate. He worked with the poor and sick in his own parish, ministered to inmates at Attica and Wyoming correctional facilities, and worked with migrant workers in Genesee, Orleans and Niagara counties.

The church's music director, Mark Hoerbelt, led a brief moment of recognition for Father Ivan and his service to the community.  They worked together for 24 years.

 "I just can't say enough about the kindness of this man, the dedication to our parish, and I think the world of him," Hoerbelt said.

Father Ivan's assistant, Bob Waters, also retired as of Sunday.  He has served at Resurrection Parish for more than 10 years as a parochial vicar.   He was a priest for 54 years.  He spent 14 years at Resurrection and also served at St. Anthony's and in Corfu.

Photos by Steve Ognibene.

father Ivan Trujillo
Father Ivan Trujillo
Father Ivan Trujillo

Batavia man quietly invites people to ask him about Islam

By Howard B. Owens
Batavia resident Muhammad Hamaz sits on a bench Wednesday on Main Street in Batavia waiting to share with anyone willing to stop and talk with him about his belief that Islam is a religion of peace.
Photo by Howard Owens

Muhammad Hamaz has never met another Muslim in Batavia. He worships with a community in Rochester when he can. He said he wanted people in Batavia to know more about Islam, so he sat on a bench Wednesday on Main Street, between the U.S. Post Office and Tim Horton's, holding a sign that read, "I'm A Muslim. Ask Me About Islam."

At the time a reporter spoke with him, nobody up to that point in the day had stopped to ask him about Islam, he said.

"I want to teach others about Islam to the best of my ability and let others know that it is not a violent religion and that it is a religion of peace," Hamaz said.

A soft-spoken man, Hamaz said he converted to Islam on Oct. 14.

"Islam interested me because I never really believed that Jesus was God," Hamaz said. "I never really believed in the Trinity. So when it came down to Islam, well, Jesus was just a very beloved prophet. I was like, 'That makes more sense to me.' I always want to worship just God, not Jesus, because Jesus is just a guy, and, well, a very beloved guy. I just fell in love with Islam as I learned about it."

If anybody did stop and talk with him, he said his message was simple for his fellow Batavia residents: Islam teaches peace.

"I just want people to know that Islam is not a dangerous religion," Hamaz said. "After 911, so many people think that Islam is a religion of terrorism. It's really not. It's about love and peace and submitting to the will of God. And I want people to know that I am out here because I want other people to know exactly what I said and that Islam is not violence."

Fifteen young Catholics celebrate first communion at Resurrection Parish

By Howard B. Owens
first communition

Fifteen young Genesee County residents celebrated their first communion on Sunday at Resurrection Parish in Batavia.

"Communion, also known as the Eucharist in the Catholic Church, is the source and summit of the Catholic Faith," said Jason Smith, director of Faith Formation at the church. "Catholics believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and when students receive their First Eucharist, they have been thoroughly prepared through Faith Formation classes so that they understand and appreciate this concept.  It is a significant event in the Catholic faith, and is one of our seven Sacraments.  Sacraments are designed to draw us closer to God and experience God's love and grace."

Photo by Steve Ognibene.

Batavia parishes hold confirmation classes

By Howard B. Owens


Resurrection and Ascension parishes hosted their annual confirmation retreat on Sunday morning at St. Mary's in Batavia.

The class was led by Jason Smith and Ron Chrzanowski.

Smith said that Father Ivan offered a blessing after the 9:15 mass, and then candidates engaged in several activities, including making a coat of arms, and church collages symbolizing elements of the faith. They also studied the Corporal Works of Mercy, and presented their Saints in an interview style.

Candidates will be confirmed on May 28 at St Joseph’s Cathedral in Buffalo by Bishop Fisher. 

Submitted photos and information.






Buffalo Dioceses marking 175th anniversary, including events in Genesee County

By Howard B. Owens

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo is celebrating its 175th anniversary from May 1 to May 7, marking the occasion with various events, activities, and service projects across the diocese, including events in Genesee County. 

On Sunday, Feb. 19, at 3 p.m., there will be a celebration mass at Ascension Parish, 19 Sumner St., Batavia.

The celebration also involves Our Lady of Mercy and St. Brigid (Le Roy), St. Padre Pio (Oakfield), Our Lady of Fatima (Elba), Mary Immaculate (E. Bethany), and Immaculate Heart of Mary in Darien Center.

The Diocese of Buffalo was founded in April 1847 and has been serving the people of Western New York for 175 years. The anniversary celebration is a recognition of the powerful legacy of faith and service that the diocese has established, and an opportunity for members of the diocese to deepen their own faith, share and witness that faith to others, and serve one another.

According to a statement from the diocese, "We are called to continue and pass on our heritage of faith and service to future generations." The 175th anniversary of the Diocese of Buffalo is a time for celebration and reflection, and an opportunity for members of the diocese to recommit themselves to the legacy of faith and service that has defined the diocese for 175 years."

(Based on a press release from The Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.)

EverPresent Church hosting Mass Deliverance Service

By Press Release

Press release:

Are you or a loved one struggling with anxiety, fear, panic disorders, depression, obsession, sleep disorders, PTSD, schizophrenia, eating disorders, disruptive behavior, bipolar disorder, hearing voices, or seeing hallucinations? While some of these conditions may have scientific explanations, others may not.

Doctors often attribute these symptoms to physical or mental disorders and prescribe drugs to treat them. However, some believe that many of these symptoms are actually spiritual in nature.

As Christians, it is believed that some of these issues can be caused by poor decisions, wrong choices, and engaging in activities that are not in line with biblical teachings. This can include occult practices, sorcery, or witchcraft, even if engaged in unknowingly.

The Bible offers guidance on these matters, and Jesus Christ offers deliverance and healing. If you or a loved one are struggling with afflictions, you are invited to attend a Mass Deliverance Service on Feb. 17 at EverPresent Church, located at 4 Batavia City Centre in Batavia. Parking is available in the former JC Penny lot. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the event begins at 6 p.m.

If you have any questions, please call (585) 297-3155.

St. Paul Lutheran School hosting Christmas show tonight

By Howard B. Owens


St. Paul Lutheran School on Washington Avenue in Batavia will be hostsing a Christmas show at 6:30 p.m. Friday titled "Christmas Hang-Ups," and featuring the school's students.

 The program is directed by Jennifer Dunn, and lead roles will be played by the 5th and 6th-grade class, with other classes, Pre-K through 4th-grade, playing supporting roles.

Following the program, there will be a bake sale put on by FOLKS (Friends of Lutheran Kids) full of homemade donations to support the school.

Submitted information and photos.



Photos: Christmas concert at City Church

By Howard B. Owens


City Church hosted its annual Christmas Concert on Thursday night, featuring Carlton Wilcox, Rufus McGee Jr., and Pastor Trellis Pore.

Singer Kimera Lattimore, originally scheduled for the bill, was unable to perform due to illness.

Top photo: Carlton Wilcox. Photos by Howard Owens.




Patti and Marty Macdonald, who are about to celebrate their 40th anniversary.


Rufus McGee Jr.


Concert at City Church tonight a celebration of Christmas and community

By Howard B. Owens


The set list for tonight's (Dec. 15) Christmas Concert at City Church promises to be as diverse as it is joyful, with more than just gospel and hymns but also hip-hop, R&B, and smooth jazz celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

Pastor Ryan Macdonald also promises concertgoers will enjoy engaging and energetic performers and great musicians.

"We've done (the Christmas Concert) every year now, with the exception of COVID, for about five years," Macdonald said. "It's really been a wonderful night of really coming together and celebrating."

The artists, Macdonald said, are also personal friends.

"They are not just great artists but great people," Macdonald said.

Carlton Wilcox, Rufus McGee Jr, and Trellis Pore have all performed at previous Christmas concerts.  This is the Batavia debut for Kimera Lattimore (top photo).

Macdonald said he's tried to get her on the bill for years, but there was always a scheduling conflict.  He said he met her in Buffalo years ago, where she is the music director and worship leader of Renovation Church.  She is a national recording artist, singer, songwriter, musician, poet, rapper, vocal teacher, theologian and Elder of the gospel."

"She is really a great spirit, a great believer," Macdonald said. "She believes people matter. She believes humanity matters."

Her bio states that she believes, "We were all created, by the creator, to create."

The concert, Macdonald said, is intended to uplift the whole community, and all are invited.

"Our goal the whole Christmas season is the celebration of the birth of Christ, but beyond that, we're celebrating each other," Macdonald said. "The term that has really stuck with me is that we're not independent; we're interdependent. We need each other.  We don't only need each other as believers, but we need the whole community." 

The concert begins at 7 p.m. at City Church, 210 East Main St., Batavia. The concert is also live-streamed.

Submitted photos.


Submitted information:

Pastor Trellis Pore, multi-instrumentalist and Vocalist. A Western NY native. He started singing and playing instruments at the age of 5 with his family gospel group, The Cooper family Gospel singers. Singing traditional quartet Gospel music. Also was apart of the band Perifial Vision,  and The Glorious Sons of Rochester.  Currently, he leads The Trellis Cooper Band. Singing gospel music with a twist. Trellis has his own Signature series guitar with the company Mucho Guitars of Rockwall, Texas. Trellis is currently the Pastor of Shiloh Church Albion. 


Submitted information:

Rufus McGee Jr., son of Bishop & Lady Rufus and Linda McGee is Rochester’s best-kept secret, however, now the secret is out! His parents began molding him at age 2 years old to become a musician. Although he began as the church drummer at 6 years old, at 11, he progressed to becoming one of the most extraordinary organists/keyboardists that anyone has ever heard.

His ability is God-given, but can also be attributed to years of absorbing gospel music passed down through the classic COGIC style of music, and the music of the church that he attended growing up in his hometown, Rochester, New York. His drive and confidence developed from the challenge to rise above mediocrity. 

He is an exemplary musician, producer and the founder of RMJ Productions. He enjoys listening to George Duke, Chick Corea, Kevin Bond, Jason White, Mike Bereal and Eddie Brown. 

He has recorded with: Aaron Lindsey, Kathy Bowman, Ricky Dillard, Jason Wright, Serena Young, Shirley Murdock, Eddie Balltrip, Danell Daymon and Royalty, Malcolm Williams, Amar’rae Hill True Foundation and Jerome Francis and Divine Nature.

Rufus gives every ounce of his being to excelling and finishing well! Rufus has a great passion and love for gospel music and enjoys devoting his life to giving God his all. His greatest inspiration is God. He often says, “Without God, I would be nothing.”


Submitted information:

Carlton Wilcox has been creating a standard of excellence in music that embodies, style, quality, and substance. This singer, songwriter, and accomplished bassist has been entertaining Western NY for over two decades. Resounding melodies accompanied by rich voice make this crooner one of our area’s sought talents. With gospel, smooth jazz and R&B roots, Carlton wants to spread the message of hope through music. Carlton Wilcox is also a Monroe County Deputy Sheriff, event promoter and music instructor for the City of Rochester’s ROC Music Program. Carlton Wilcox wants to make a difference in the world, one day at a time, by giving back the love and support that he has been given.

Resurrection and Ascension hold joint commitment mass

By Press Release


Press release:

Resurrection and Ascension Roman Catholic Parishes had a joint Confirmation Commitment Mass today at 11:30 at St Joseph’s Church for our shared Confirmation candidates, to be confirmed this spring.  Parents and sponsors attended and participated as well.

Prior to Mass, families and students gathered as part of our joint Faith Formation program.

Submitted photos.




Pastor embraces -- and is embraced by -- opportunity at United Methodist Church in Oakfield

By Joanne Beck


CJ Rolle remembers when, as a youngster taking piano lessons, one professor knew he wasn’t living up to his potential.

The Rochester youngster had taught himself how to play by ear, and his mother insisted he'd learn to read music. Little did he know that he'd also learn about perseverance.

“One of the professors, he said that ‘God has given you a gift and you're not gonna waste your gift.’ And if I didn't practice, he would spank me. He actually did spank me,” Rolle said during an interview with The Batavian in Oakfield. “So every week after that, when he spanked me that first time, I said, ‘nope, you won't do it again.’ So I practiced every week until I got it right.”

While such discipline may be frowned upon today, a wiser 43-year-old Rolle believes it served him well. “It inspired me,” he said, reciting his portfolio that began at 12 as church organist for several churches, and going on to study and graduate at Eastman School of Music in Rochester, then becoming a music teacher and assistant principal at the Rochester City School District.

From listening to his life story, it seems apparent that Rolle has known how to take lemons and parlay them into some pretty sweet lemonade. While at the school district, he got injured trying to break up a fight. He took a leave with his newly broken arm and leg, and it was during that recovery that he heard about a vacancy at Renaissance Academy Charter School. He got the job and pretty much “runs the place” now as head administrator for the last six years.

He had served as a part-time pastor for a few other churches before hearing about the United Methodist Church of Oakfield. The church district superintendent recommended him, so Rolle and his wife Danielle decided to drive out and see it. Growing up in Rochester, Rolle had never heard of Oakfield, he said. But when he heard about the opening and was highly recommended, he decided to check it out.


“And so my wife and I Googled the church, we drove out here. And the day that we came out here, I didn't even tell them yet that I was potentially going to be their pastor. I just wanted to get a feel of how they were. And they were very welcoming. They didn't even know us, and they were very welcoming,” he said. “So once I figured that out, I said, I might as well tell them that I'm potentially going to be your pastor. Their eyes all just opened up real wide. So one of the trustees said well, if you're gonna be our pastor, let's give you a tour of the church.”

He loved the “beautiful edifice” and the roomy, three-floor building with classrooms on the floor below a stained-glass enshrouded sanctuary, plus a parish hall, kitchen and office.

After the tour, he was informed that the church at 2 South Main St. would be his new appointment. Rolle sees the job as more than just an employment and religious opportunity, but also a special moment in the church’s history.

Founded in the 1800s, the church has never had an African-American pastor, he said. And from the moment he met with parishioners and members of the Staff Relations Committee, he has felt comfortable in a mostly all-white church.

“They have really embraced us,” he said. “You know, they don't see me as the black pastor. Yeah, they see me as the pastor, and they have much respect, and I appreciate them for that. You're not going to find this every day. You know, a lot of my African-American colleagues, I don't think, would be able to do what I'm doing right now. I'm kind of different. I can fit into any crowd.”


He first had to attend a church camp for a jam-packed week of Bible-based lessons from sunup to sundown, he said. Just three weeks in, and Rolle has a list of goals already, from offering a Bible study and Sunday school to establishing a church website and boosting congregation numbers. He had been a pastor at a couple of Pentecostal churches previously, but left “because I wanted a little more structure,” he said.

“The United Methodist Church also offers retirement. For pastors in the Pentecostal church, you get to preach until you hit the grave. I didn't I didn't want to do that,” he said.

There were about a dozen people attending when he began his new post.

“But now that I'm here, I at least counted maybe 50 people. And there's still more that haven't come yet. They're watching online,” he said. “But they're on the way. I saw that people came the other week that they haven't seen in 10 years. They came and they've been coming, you know, so that's a good thing.”

Committee chairman Jeff Schlagenhauf said it was a good decision based on Rolle’s traits and recommendations. It wasn’t about being black or white, but about the best fit, he said.


“He’s dynamic, and a great speaker,” Schlagenhauf said. “He’s more youthful than our past pastors, and he, his wife and daughter have jumped in. He has a passion, enthusiasm and a vision.”

Jeff has been a member for the last 25 years and attended the church five years before that. He has seen numbers dwindling over the years, maybe due to more activities on Sundays, and then COVID didn’t help.

Church members are on board with growing attendance and hosting a youth event in the near future, he said.

“We’re heading in the right direction,” Schlagenhauf said.

Rolle agreed. He predicted that within the next year, the congregation will grow. He and his family will remain in Rochester until his hours increase, and then he'll consider moving closer to Oakfield. Rolle said there’s a plan to canvass the neighborhood and encourage folks to give church a try.

“And start compelling, as the Bible says, compelling men and women to come. A lot of people don't go to church on Sundays,” Rolle said. “When I walked down the street here on Sunday, sometimes people are outside washing their cars and doing other things, right? But I have a vision to have a program here that will make you not want to wash your car on Sunday, and come into the house of God.”

Sunday service is at 10 a.m. For more information, call 585-948-5550.




Top Photo of Pastor CJ Rolle flanked by vocalists during Sunday service at United Methodist Church in Oakfield, with members of the congregation and his wife Danielle. Photos by Howard Owens. Photo above, CJ Rolle with his youngest daughter Camryn, 5. The Rolle's other children are C'earah, 21; CJ, 15; and Tia, 20. Photo by Joanne Beck. 

Former United Methodist Church in Alexander becomes independent

By Press Release

Press release:

Church members in the Village of Alexander recently voted to become an independent church with the new name being The Church in Alexander.  Formerly the Alexander United Methodist Church (UMC), the status and name change became official on Oct. 6 during the Upper New York UMC Annual Conference.  Alexander UMC was 1 of 8 churches in the region that was approved to establish independent churches.

“We’re excited for this new transition and to see what God will do with His church in Alexander,” said Charlie Miller, Administrative Council Chairman.

As part of the transition process, the church is seeking a full-time pastor to lead the congregation.  Applications are currently being accepted.  If interested in applying, please reach out to the church office at 585-591-1765.

Norb Fuest, Chair of the Church Employee Relations Committee stated, “Our church family continues to be in prayer for the right person to fill the pulpit.  This is a great opportunity for someone who is being called to expand their ministry efforts and to shepherd a newly formed church.”

The Church in Alexander’s mission is to connect with others, lead them to Christ, and prepare God’s people for works of service that the Body of Christ may be built up. 

To learn more about The Church in Alexander, consider attending Sunday morning worship services at 10 a.m.  The church is located at 10540 Main Street, in the village of Alexander.  You can also check out the church’s website at or by searching The Church in Alexander on Facebook.

Door-to-door visits to resume by global ministry

By Joanne Beck


After pausing their door-to-door visits the last 30 months due to the pandemic, Jehovah’s Witnesses have resumed their trademark in-person ministry, officials say.

The church members will be active with a global campaign to offer a free interactive Bible study program.

“I am happy and excited to interact with people face to face,” Lisa Dermody of Elba said in a press release. “I think it is important to see how our neighbors did during the pandemic and be able to give them a message of hope and comfort and share with them a positive view of the future.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses had been preaching from house to house without interruption for more than 100 years through an economic depression, two world wars and global unrest, officials said, but “COVID-19 demanded a different response.”

“We believe that the early decision to shut down all in-person activities for more than two years has saved many lives,” said Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesperson for Jehovah’s Witnesses. “We’re now ready and eager to reconnect with our neighbors once again – person-to-person, face-to-face. It’s not the only way that we preach, but it has historically been the most effective way to deliver our message of comfort and hope.”

The new Bible study program is available in hundreds of languages at no cost, and it comes in the form of a book, online publication or as an embedded feature within the organization’s free mobile application, the release states.

For more information about Jehovah’s Witnesses, their history, beliefs and activities, visit

Photo:  Donna Burkett (left), of Oakfield and Lisa Dermody, of Elba, engage in a door-to-door ministry. Photo courtesy of Jehovah’s Witnesses

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