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First Calvary Baptist moving forward with expansion

Mike Desmond

First Calvary Missionary Baptist Church is expanding from its William and Jefferson neighborhood. The congregation plans to turn its current church into a family life center and then build a new church connected to the building along Jefferson.

The plan was almost approved by the Buffalo Planning Board, but there were not enough members at its last meeting to take a legal vote. The expansion is expected to be approved at the Planning Board's next meeting.

Pastor Jason Drayton is going ahead with preparations, assuming that approval. Drayton said this will not be a building just for prayers on Sunday morning, but a facility to help the neighborhood.

"We have a lot of viable housing that we're surrounded by as well as some vacant lots, as well, but, as we all know, a lot of building is going on in that area, downtown, medical corridor, East Side area," he said. "However, there are still a lot of social challenges that, at least, are coming through our doors on a regular basis. So we realize we can't just have a good time one day a week, during Sunday service."

On the other days of the week, Drayton said the church has to be important to the neighbors who are in need of help.  When they show up in the church, First Calvary will help.

"Once we give the benediction and we send people home, we have to send them home empowered, to be a blessing," Drayton said, "not just to their own personal houses, but to their neighbors, friends, children, associates, whoever in that community needs the impact in a powerful way."

The pastor said the congregation members are showing they believe in the message by contributing to the capital project.

"One thing people will tell you by how they give, what they believe," he said, "and so we have shared this knowledge with the church and a lot of members of the church live in that area and they have put their money where their mouth is."

Drayton said he wants to start construction late in September or in early October and build through the winter.

"Sometimes, some issues are the same as they were 30-40 years ago and then some are different," Drayton said. "So the church really has to be a pillar in the community, not just a place to visit."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.