First Church has been a physical host to a remarkable variety of organizations and businesses over the last 10 years, from a fitness center and food truck entrepreneur to an urban college campus and tourism enterprise. Despite this diversity of purpose, the one thing these partners have in common is the label “scrappy start-up.”
All of the groups calling First Church home have the shared qualities of innovation, risk-taking, and drive. Some have outgrown the available space, and as they have moved on, other partners have moved in to pursue their own goals and ambitions. One thing can be said of all: they have been good citizens of First Church and the wider Buffalo community, and our relationships with them allow us to serve our community in non-religious ways.
First Church welcomes inquiries about leasing space. While we may not be able to accommodate a space need at a given time, we maintain a record of those interested in leasing. Moreover, we are continuously seeking to improve our spaces and amenities and are flexible when it comes to reconfiguring and repurposing leased areas. We invite your questions and proposals by contacting us here.
Read on to learn more about our Resident Partners.
Church of the Atonement
Church of the Atonement is an Anglican congregation that worships on Sunday evenings on the third floor of the Parish House.
Church of the Atonement seeks to build a community around Jesus Christ, proclaiming, “We are nourished by his Spirit and the sacraments of his church. His purposes to transform the world have become our purposes, his wounds have become the source of our healing, and his kingdom is turning our world upside down."
Explore Buffalo is a nonprofit organization that provides tours and other opportunities to discover Buffalo’s great architecture, history, and neighborhoods. Its mission is to promote "Buffalo and Western New York history, architecture, and neighborhoods through quality education to learners of all ages."
Beginning with a single, small office and one employee five years ago, Explore Buffalo now rents a large portion of the second floor of First Church and has seven enthusiastic employees.
Several Explore Buffalo events are a natural fit for fellowship activities for church members. We were proud to help sponsor a summer event on the USS Little Rock, with many First Churchers enjoying a night on the waterfront.
F BITES (Food Based Interventions with Technology, Energy, & Science) was introduced in 2009 as an afterschool program in the Niagara Falls City School District. It has since expanded to over 60 institutions around Erie, Niagara, and Monroe counties, including schools, community centers, city programs, detention centers, and the Niagara County Jail.
F BITES instills an exemplary work ethic in children as young as five years old and sustains this influence throughout high school. An astonishing 85 percent of participants who graduate from F BITES’ nutrition education programs are employed or enrolled in higher education. Under the leadership of Chef Bobby Anderson and his capable staff and board, F BITES continues to grow.
After studying at the Culinary Institute of America, Chef Bobby’s career began at Buffalo’s Hyatt Regency, better known as EB Greens Steakhouse. Under his leadership, EB Greens was named the fourth-best steakhouse in the country. Chef Bobby is perhaps best known for his role in season four of the Fox television series “Hell’s Kitchen,” where he finished in fourth place out of 17 contestants under the fiery tutelage of Gordon Ramsay. Gordon went on to hire Chef Bobby for two of his restaurants in Manchester and London, a rare opportunity for many of the contestants of “Hell’s Kitchen.”
F BITES leases an office in the basement of First Presbyterian Church for general operations. Church leadership is in discussion with F BITES to explore joint mission opportunities. F BITES provides meals twice a week to Houghton College Buffalo students when classes are in session.
Friends of Harmony
Friends of Harmony was founded in 1983. Since its inception, it has provided some of the finest in a cappella entertainment in Western New York.
The group provides an enjoyable yet supportive atmosphere, well suited for people of all backgrounds and good musical singing ability, and a strong talent base enabling an active performance schedule and a good status within competition circles.
Singers hail from the all areas of Western New York and from Ontario, Canada. There are singers of all ages with varied musical abilities directed by Marshall Kelkenberg, with Meredith Zimmer as assistant director.
First Church is the group’s weekly rehearsal space. We always look forward to hearing them perform in our sanctuary.
Holiness Mennonite Church
Sunday afternoons, a faithful group from Buffalo's diverse immigrant community worship in the First Church chapel. Pastor Byaombe Swedy leads his flock's traditional Mennonite beliefs, rooted in his native Congo.
Services are in Swahili, French, and sometimes English. Music is an important element, and songs about the Gospels are sung throughout worship. Holiness, peace, and repentance are the church's core values, and its mission is "to prepare saints for the bride of Christ," according to Pastor Swedy.
The congregation is made up mostly of families middle aged or younger, with many children seeking to worship the Lord with a humble heart.
This nesting congregation is a mission of the Session, First Church’s governing body. It's a pleasure to see this church grow and flourish.
Houghton College Buffalo
Houghton College Buffalo offers a unique and inspirational learning environment. Students from a wide variety of backgrounds can earn an Associate of Arts degree right here in Buffalo. The Symphony Circle location is geared toward English language learners on Buffalo's West Side.
First Church has a long history of ministering to immigrant and refugee populations, and the Houghton program is a natural fit. The church provides a safe and welcoming environment for all students. The congregation enjoys hosting a welcome back pizza party each fall and an ice cream social during spring final exams. Students have sung songs in their native languages on World Communion Sunday—always a popular worship element!
The energy and enthusiasm the students bring to the building is obvious to everyone who walks through our doors. It is a joy to have this program in our building and this fabulous partner in ministry.
Native Offerings Farm
Native Offerings Farm is located in Little Valley, New York, and farmed by Stew and Deb Ritchie and their children. Deeply committed to ecological farming, Native Offerings is USDA Certified Organic. The farm employs ecological practices such as composting, cover cropping, mulching, and crop rotation.
First Church is one of four pick-up locations for Native Offering’s CSA shares. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a movement that reconnects the community with its food source, the local farmer, making it a grassroots alternative to agribusiness.
One Symphony Circle
One Symphony Circle, Inc. is a joint community and congregational initiative, with representation from First Church, Allentown Association, and a cross-sector of community members who recognize our historic building as the community asset that it is.
The mission of One Symphony Circle is to assure the ongoing preservation, restoration, and maintenance of our church building, a registered historic landmark building, located at One Symphony Circle.
The building is highly esteemed for its beauty, history, location, acoustics, and design and is an iconic part of Buffalo’s rich architectural landscape in that it anchors Symphony Circle and connects several of the city’s most vibrant neighborhoods. It is a crucial component of the Olmsted Parkway system, and beautifully forms bookends with the H.H. Richardson Complex towers, also Romanesque in style. First Church’s famous architect, E.B. Green, had this in mind when designing our beautiful building. The Richardson towers were completed in 1872; First Church's tower was completed in 1897.
The Serendipity Shoppe
First Church is the third location for this one-of-a-kind thrift store that opened in 2008. The Serendipity Shoppe is operated by the Buffalo AIDS Plus Fund of WNY, which also runs the wildly popular event Buffalo Gay Bingo. Profits from The Serendipity Shoppe support people living with HIV/AIDS.
Located in the church's basement and accessed via the Wadsworth Street entrance, the shop is a never-ending treasure chest of art, books, dishes, fine china, furniture, jewelry, and collectibles. Hours are Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from noon to 5 p.m.
Located on the third floor of the Parish House, Village Church is a non-denominational "portable church" founded in 2011.
Its mission is to leave the city better than it found it. According to the church, “Our love for God motivates us to live in a way that adds value to our neighborhood, the city, and the wider world. We intentionally make space for spending time with others, sharing meals and experiences together...we want our relationships to reflect our love for God and our fellow man. Our love for God also drives us to serve others in a variety of ways. Our core values influence our mission and give shape to some of the specifics of our quest to love, live, and serve as we are Finding Our Way Back to God, Together."