The First Congregational Church in Malone, New York is in need of financial assistance to preserve its house of worship. This beautiful historical building, which was built in 1883, is 131 years old. It was built on the same site as two previous church buildings. The building incorporates tunnels of the Underground Railroad, which provided safe passage for slaves seeking freedom before the Civil War. William A. Wheeler, who was the 19th Vice President of the United States from 1877 until 1881, was a member of this church. Visitors are always welcome to come and visit the tunnels of the Underground Railroad and learn the history of the building as well as the area.
Time has taken its toll on the large stone building and on our small congregation. We were unprepared for the depth of water damage to the buttresses and foundation until a stone rolled away. Contractors were called in to assess the problems, and it was found that the rafters and walls were actually moving. This became a safety issue for the community and the church family, therefore the trustees made the bold decision to move forward with the necessary foundation work. Collapse of the church would have threatened bordering sidewalks and roads, Notre Dame Church and Arsenal Green Park across from the church, and Flanders Elementary School, a doctor’s office and a private residence next door.
Because of the urgency of the situation, there was no time to research and apply for grants. The total bill is in excess of $800,000. We have already raised $288,000 through pledges and donations from members and friends of the congregation. Our goal is to raise $550,000 to cover the cost of the stabilization work that has been completed and finance the final phase of the project in the spring of 2015, which will ensure the continued viability of the building. Banks and Credit Unions have been visited but no help is available. The insurance company has denied our claim for damages.
This church has been a beacon of hope and provided a place to worship and glorify God for generations. Historically, the congregants have been at the forefront of providing for those in need and continue to do so through missions and outreach ministries such as circle of prayer, community linen chest, collection of food for distribution to local food pantries, prayer shawl ministry, puppet ministry, Operation Christmas Child and Holiday Helpers, just to name a few. We invite you to help us continue God’s work which started over 200 years ago on this site by preserving the church building for His glory and honor.