Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Where Hope is Spread

First AME Church returning to in-person worship this weekend
By Benjamin Joe [email protected]
Jun 24, 2022

First AME Church of Lockport, 123 South St., will host “A Transitioning Church” on Saturday to mark its return to in-person worship. The celebration is ongoing from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Food will be served.

Rev. Willie Pulliam said that while church members have not gathered together for Sunday worship for some time, due to fear of spreading COVID-19, they have still been involved in the community.

Besides live streaming their services, Pulliam said the Community Health Center parked its mobile unit across from the church to help people get tested for Covid long before there was a vaccine in place. Church members also collected food for tenants of Lockport Housing Authority properties, prepared an outdoor banquet and greeted those who came to eat.

Remote worship services began in March 2020 and the next year an attempt was made to go back to in-person services, but people started getting sick. The decision was made to err on the side of caution and not come out of lockdown.

And the result has not been all bad... 

“Online has benefited us, because we now have a member from Texas and another from South Carolina,” Pulliam said. “A few from Atlanta also. It’s been word of mouth. You invite someone who invites somebody else. It’s almost like the church comes to you. Because we’re the church, it’s not the building.”

The history of the African Methodist Church on South Street goes back to the 1840s when a wood frame church was built on the lot as a school house and place of worship. After a dispute within the congregation, many members left for Bethel AME Church of Lockport and it wasn’t until 1876 that they were joined again. This was partially due to the urging of Aaron Mossell, the owner of a local brick factory and catalyst in the fight to desegregate the Lockport school system. After his plea was realized, Mossell donated the bricks to build a more substantial church on South Street.

Pulliam said First AME Church continues to be a place where “hope is spread for everyone. Things change and get better."

For more information about A Transitioning Church, call Pulliam at 716-713-0215.