THE HISTORIC PARSELLS CHURCH  P. O. Box 10670  Rochester, NY 14610 
As the name implies, The Historic Parsells Church has a long history, and one worth preserving. In 1892, two women started a Sunday School class in a house on Hayward Avenue in the Beechwood neighborhood of Rochester, NY. Within a few weeks, there were 55 kids in that house. After meeting at the trolley depot (which is now the Regional Transit System headquarters) for a while, the women spearheaded a campaign to build a chapel on Oswego Street (which is now Chamberlain Street). By 1895, the organization was incorporated as Parsells Avenue Baptist Church. Twenty-one years later, in 1916, the congregation built a new sanctuary building at Parsells and Chamberlain, but they continued to use the adjacent chapel for Sunday School. The chapel got so dilapidated that in 1925, they replaced it with an educational annex and gym. To get this done, they used the slogan, “Do It for the Boys and Girls.” Meanwhile, the Presbyterians had also planted a church in the neighborhood. East Side Presbyterian started out in 1901 with a small building on Haywood Avenue. That, too, was soon overrun by kids. It was such a dinky place that the Presbytery referred to it as a “shed.” In 1909, the congregation was given land at Parsells and Denver, where a medium-sized church building was constructed. That also proved to be too small, and a new sanctuary was added on in 1925. The old section became Sunday School classrooms, following the lead of the Baptists down the street. In 1939, East Side merged with Memorial Presbyterian, which had been located on Hudson Avenue. That church, too, had started as a Sunday School — back in 1869. When European immigrants started moving into the Hudson Avenue area in the 1920s and ‘30s, the church started Friendship Center to minister to the children, meeting their physical needs (especially during the Depression), teaching them English, and showing them the “American way of life.” Some of the women of that church even started one of the first nursery schools in Rochester. Hundreds of kids were helped each week at the Friendship Center, but eventually the church couldn’t afford to keep it going. That’s when it ended up merging with the East Side congregation to form East Side Memorial Presbyterian Church. Both the Baptist and Presbyterian churches in Beechwood had several women’s circles — and the ladies of the churches provided much of the labor and fundraising necessary to allow ministries to flourish in the 1950s and ‘60s. And both churches had gyms and basketball teams for the kids, in addition to the traditional Sunday School. Demographics and finances changed in the 1970s, and the two churches merged in 1975 to form the Parsells Avenue Community Church. The Women’s Society continued to be the backbone of the church. When Sunday School attendance faltered, leaders came up with the concept of Saturday School and the Children of Promise choir. The number of kids in the church swelled once again. When technology changed, a computer lab was added. In 2015, the church merged with Christ Community Church of Rochester, which had been formed just five years prior to that. The new congregation became The Historic Parsells Church. And even now, the majority of the congregation consists of women and children. That’s no accident. The DNA of this church is ministry to children. And, incidentally, about 40% of the residents in Beechwood are under the age of 20. That’s a high percentage of kids. And, women out-populate men in Beechwood by 4%. Not surprisingly, over the years, the bulk of the work of the church has been done by women. But, in all of the incarnations of Parsells Church going back to 1895, all of the pastors had been men… until now. Rev. Dr. Carol Garrett became the first African-American woman to be installed as pastor of Parsells Church on Pentecost Sunday, May 20, 2018.

Our History

Back to Top Back to Top
The Historic Parsells Church P. O. Box 10670  Rochester, NY 14610
As the name implies, The Historic Parsells Church has a long history, and one worth preserving. In 1892, two women started a Sunday School class in a house on Hayward Avenue in the Beechwood neighborhood of Rochester, NY. Within a few weeks, there were 55 kids in that house. After meeting at the trolley depot (which is now the Regional Transit System headquarters) for a while, the women spearheaded a campaign to build a chapel on Oswego Street (which is now Chamberlain Street). By 1895, the organization was incorporated as Parsells Avenue Baptist Church. Twenty-one years later, in 1916, the congregation built a new sanctuary building at Parsells and Chamberlain, but they continued to use the adjacent chapel for Sunday School. The chapel got so dilapidated that in 1925, they replaced it with an educational annex and gym. To get this done, they used the slogan, “Do It for the Boys and Girls.” Meanwhile, the Presbyterians had also planted a church in the neighborhood. East Side Presbyterian started out in 1901 with a small building on Haywood Avenue. That, too, was soon overrun by kids. It was such a dinky place that the Presbytery referred to it as a “shed.” In 1909, the congregation was given land at Parsells and Denver, where a medium-sized church building was constructed. That also proved to be too small, and a new sanctuary was added on in 1925. The old section became Sunday School classrooms, following the lead of the Baptists down the street. In 1939, East Side merged with Memorial Presbyterian, which had been located on Hudson Avenue. That church, too, had started as a Sunday School — back in 1869. When European immigrants started moving into the Hudson Avenue area in the 1920s and ‘30s, the church started Friendship Center to minister to the children, meeting their physical needs (especially during the Depression), teaching them English, and showing them the “American way of life.” Some of the women of that church even started one of the first nursery schools in Rochester. Hundreds of kids were helped each week at the Friendship Center, but eventually the church couldn’t afford to keep it going. That’s when it ended up merging with the East Side congregation to form East Side Memorial Presbyterian Church. Both the Baptist and Presbyterian churches in Beechwood had several women’s circles — and the ladies of the churches provided much of the labor and fundraising necessary to allow ministries to flourish in the 1950s and ‘60s. And both churches had gyms and basketball teams for the kids, in addition to the traditional Sunday School. Demographics and finances changed in the 1970s, and the two churches merged in 1975 to form the Parsells Avenue Community Church. The Women’s Society continued to be the backbone of the church. When Sunday School attendance faltered, leaders came up with the concept of Saturday School and the Children of Promise choir. The number of kids in the church swelled once again. When technology changed, a computer lab was added. In 2015, the church merged with Christ Community Church of Rochester, which had been formed just five years prior to that. The new congregation became The Historic Parsells Church. And even now, the majority of the congregation consists of women and children. That’s no accident. The DNA of this church is ministry to children. And, incidentally, about 40% of the residents in Beechwood are under the age of 20. That’s a high percentage of kids. And, women out- populate men in Beechwood by 4%. Not surprisingly, over the years, the bulk of the work of the church has been done by women. But, in all of the incarnations of Parsells Church going back to 1895, all of the pastors had been men… until now. Rev. Dr. Carol Garrett became the first African-American woman to be installed as pastor of Parsells Church on Pentecost Sunday, May 20, 2018.

Our History