Epiphany’s roots go back over 100 years to three distinct and significant congregations on Buffalo’s east side. They were: Jerusalem Reformed Church founded in 1889 on Miller Street near Broadway, the Zoar Reformed Church founded at Genesee Street and Rohr in 1895, and St. Andrew’s Evangelical Church founded at Genesee and Domedion Streets in 1904. The mergers of the E & R Churches in 1934 made them sister churches and the merger with the Congregational Christian Churches in 1957 made them all members of the United Church of Christ. In 1967, the Zoar and Jerusalem congregations merged and in 1974 their merger with St. Andrews formed Epiphany United Church of Christ. The merger was done out of a sense of seeking strength in mission to the neighborhood and was watched by many churches to see how well it would work before several followed suit. The merger gave the congregation the vitality to accomplish many tasks. We were able to purchase a van to serve the needs of our community and Church, several years before government programs provided such services. We expanded parking for commuters, installed an elevator for accessibility, and in 1992, we installed the refurbished “Old Zoar Pipe Organ” and renovated our sanctuary. In 1996, we reorganized our congregational structure to involve more people in the planning and decision making processes of the Church.
From its very beginning, Epiphany made a major commitment to community service. That was evidenced by focused outreach in three areas: one of the leaders in developing VOICE-Buffalo, instrumental in bringing together a coalition on housing that secured Nations Bank financing for home ownership within the neighborhood, and taking a leadership role in opening a new community building on Genesee Street. But perhaps, most significant in our commitment to community service was the disposition of funds received from the sales of the Zoar-Jerusalem church building and parsonage and the St. Andrews parsonage. The monies were distributed as follows: 1/3 to global mission, 1/3 to mission in the Western New York area, and 1/3 to missions in our neighborhood.
However, growing decay on the East side of Buffalo resulted in a loss of membership and increasing difficulty in trying to serve our community. Of necessity, the congregation decided to sell our church building on Genesee Street in order to maintain a viable congregation. It was sold in 2006 to a city-based congregation. Epiphany then met for four years in a basement chapel of a nearby Lutheran Church in nearby Lancaster. During that time, we met many disappointments in our search for a new home or place to build a new home. Perseverance paid off when in 2010, we located a relatively new church site with two buildings that were affordable for our small congregation and located in one of the few areas in Metropolitan Buffalo that was growing and stable. The sale was completed and, in 2010, we moved to our new home.
The congregation has now become “at home” in our new place. The older of the two buildings (the original church), is the home of Wear ‘N Share and is available to rent. Our youth program is strong and growing and membership is stable and growing slowly.
In it’s pre-merger years, Epiphany’s people have been blessed with revered Pastors of long tenure. And the trend has continued since the merger. As we approach our 40th anniversary, we look back with love and thankfulness to those who have been our spiritual leaders:
Rev. G. Scott Comrie . . . . . . . . . . .1974-1979
Rev. Charles A. Wolfe . . . . . . . . . 1975-1980
Rev. David B. Wells . . . . . . . . . . . 1979-1986
Rev. Jeffrey Dick . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1981-1986
Rev. George S. Cushing . . . . . . . .1987-2012
Rev. Martin Hamann (interim) . . .2012-2015
Rev. Mark G. Dibelka . . . . . . . . . . . .2015-present