Houses of worship have been a source of inspiration, hope and comfort to many people in the past and also today. The African-American churches in our country have provided those special needs for a race that has been enslaved and the victim of prejudice for hundreds of years. The abolitionist movement started in black churches, and was carried on by the white churches as well.

This movement led to their freedom.

The first African-American church to be established in Henrietta in 1984 was the Christian Friendship Missionary Baptist Church. They rented a building on Wildbriar Road, eventually moving to their present location at 165 Beckwith Road. It had been the church of a congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, but now they own it.

It is a most welcoming church and I have been there many times. The pastor is Reverend John S. Walker. The members are friendly and warm. Their services are inspiring and their music is spirited.

Sunday school is at 9:45 am and worship is at 11 am. They have several ministries: the Women’s Ministry, the Missionary Ministry and the Youth Ministry. They became a part of the religious community in Henrietta when they joined the Rush-Henrietta Interfaith League.

The league directs the Henrietta Food Cupboard and FISH and meets with other religious organizations with support and help. Presently, they are raising funds to build a house in the city with Habitat International.

The second black congregation took up residency in what was originally another church in 2000. It is at 155 Old Pinnacle Road. Reverend C. Breedlove is its pastor. Members congregate for 8 am and 11 am Sunday services. The church has several ministries. Among them: a Youth ministry, Women Prayer Partners, for men – Sons of Abraham and “Highways and Byways Ministry’ at Winton Road Apartments.

Several years ago, in 2001, a third black church moved into town in the West Henrietta historic village area. It is called the Church of the First Born and is at 769 Erie Station Road in the building that was originally the Henrietta Grange. The last owners were the Masons.

Three people were instrumental in helping them, Ray Miller and his wife, Marge, at the Ely-Fagan Post, where they held their first services, and Maurice Stewart at the building which they now own. Their pastor is the Reverend Richard Poles. Sunday school is at 9 am and services are at 10 am with Bible study on Wednesday at 6:30 pm.

The Henrietta African-American churches have met with success and membership has grown in each. They have joined our community, which has welcomed them. Check them out. You will find them to be most gracious and welcoming.

NOTE: We have observed President’s Day recently. George Washington’s Birthday was February 22 and Abraham Lincoln’s birthday was February 12. Another prominent person in February was Susan B. Anthony with her birthday on February 13, which was well attended and interesting. Susan Faludi, of the New York Times, Washington Post, New Yorker and other national papers have carried articles by her, and she has won some prestigious awards for her journalism and books. She talked about her latest book, “The Terror Dream” and the myths that have been prevalent since 9/11. It was very thought provoking.

Recently, it was announced by the Rare Books Division of the University of Rochester that they have put on their website ( ) many original letters they have of President Lincoln. Now is your chance to view them, which is really wonderful.

I remember how excited I was to learn that they also have two letters of Antoinette Brown Blackwell in their archives. I copied them for our Henrietta files.