The Redeem COGIC was founded by the late Superintendent William Jones in April 1964. The first services were held at the church mother’s home on Pratt Road in Sodus, NY. Later, the Lord instructed Pastor Jones to build a House of Worship. Although the small congregation did not have the funds to build, Pastor Jones moved in obedience to God and he was able to secure a loan from his boss. The total cost of the new building was approximately $13,000. In 1966, Elder Jones led the members of Redeem to their new home located on Route 104E, Williamson, NY.
In the 1970’s the church began to flourish; church membership grew tremendously and as a result, countless Ministers and Missionaries were called to aid in ministry. Due to the rural location of the church, numerous saints who traveled from Southern states to work in the apple groves came to Redeem and subsequently were under the pastoral covering of Elder Jones. During the “apple season”, Evangelist L.C. Wilson conducted annual revivals. It was at these revivals that souls were saved, bodies healed, and the people were delivered and set free!
In 1974, Henry and Barbara Prior became members of Redeem COGIC. The immediately began to serve the church faithfully. Brother Prior would eventually serve as president of the YPWW department, while his wife Sister Prior, served as president of the Pastor’s Aid committee. In 1980, Brother Prior answered the clarion call to preach the unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ. In 1985, Elder Jones tearfully gave Elder Prior his blessings as the latter set out to start Bethel COGIC. The new church was located on South Avenue in Rochester, NY. Eder Prior’s faith was tested when the church was destroyed by a gas bomb. Undeterred, the Priors began conducting services in their home. One year later, the Bethel family purchased a building on Hudson Avenue. AS a result of the Hudson Avenue location, the outreach ministries at Bethel grew at an astounding rate. Pastor Prior and his congregation were able to reach a demographic that had previously been ignored.
Superintendent Jones spent the last year of his life painstakingly preparing the saints at Redeem for the change that was about to take place. His final words to the Redeem family on Sunday January 14, 1996 were “God is getting ready to do a new thing, are you ready for it?” On Tuesday January 16, 1996, our beloved pastor, Superintendent William Jones, entered the Church Triumphant. Although left with an enormous void, the saints were able to bind together through fasting and praying as they sought the Lord’s direction for the ministry.
The leaders of the church expressed an overwhelming desire to have Elder Henry Prior return as the new Pastor. Elder Prior agreed to come home to pastor after a conversation with the late Bishop Leroy R. Anderson, there was however one stipulation to the agreement: the saints of Bethel COGIC came with Elder Prior to Redeem. Bishop Anderson consented to this request and in March 1996, Elder Prior was officially appointed to lead the Redeem church. However, the decision was made to incorporate, rather than dissolve Bethel, into the ministry and the two churches merged as one. The merging of Redeem and Bethel was a historic moment for the Church of God in Christ as two identities became one as Redeem Bethel COGIC.
In 1998, Pastor Prior revealed the vision that the Lord had given him. The people of God worked tirelessly to make the vision a reality. Several unsuccessful attempts were made to secure funding for the new building. Finally in 2005, the church was able to obtain funding through Manufacturer’s and Trust Bank and on June 4, 2006, Pastor Prior led the saints into a gorgeous state of the art edifice.
In the past twelve years, the church has experienced phenomenal growth. New ministries have been formed which include: the Joshua Generation, Generation Now, Foundational Generation, Family and Friends Committee, Armor Bearers, the Praise and Worship Ministry, Young Women of Excellence, Youth Advocators (Young Men’s Group), Couple’s Ministry, the Prison Ministry, and the Follow-Up Ministry. The church has also been supported missions to the continent of Africa. We are thankful for our past, rejoicing in our present and hopeful about the future manifestations of God’s promises. We are the Redeem Bethel COGIC Community Fellowship Center and our endeavor is to make a difference in the community, in Western New York, in America, and across the world!
Dr. Henry Prior