Buffalo’s Asbury Shalom Zone closes
Pictured above are (from left): the Rev. Merle Showers, former Buffalo Community Minister and long-time volunteer; the Rev. Brian Rotach, chair of Niagara Frontier City Ministries; Luis Reyes, director of Operations; Ben Matta, chair of the Asbury Shalom Zone Advisory Board; and Juanita Matta, volunteer executor director. Submitted photo
After 18 years of ministry to Buffalo’s lower West Side, the Asbury Shalom Zone (ASZ) closed its doors on April 24. Years of reducing income, coupled with two offers to buy the facility on the corner of Seventh and Jersey streets, led to its sale.
“Due to the significant amount of money received from the sale, monies which go to the Niagara Frontier City Ministries (NFCM), the mission to the inner city of Buffalo and the surrounding area, will continue with renewed energy,” said Paul Robinson, ASZ’s chairperson of finance.
To celebrate all that has been done through ASZ’s ministry over the past two decades, a time of remembering and thanksgiving was enjoyed on May 3 at the sponsoring church, Primera Iglesia United Methodist Church in Buffalo.
Approximately 70 people gathered to worship and share memories, led by the Rev. Alberto Lanzot, pastor at Primera Iglesia UMC.
Also in attendance were Niagara Frontier District Superintendent the Rev. Wayne Butler – who offered a greeting on behalf of Upper New York Area Resident Bishop Mark J. Webb – and the Rev. John Beeson, retired, who served in the 1990s as the Buffalo District Superintendent of the former Western New York Conference.
The ASZ came together in 1996 when Buffalo-area resident Joseph Takats contacted Rev. Beeson in the Buffalo District Office and offered a large warehouse space, where he had formerly manufactured aluminum siding and windows. That warehouse property, along with a $25,000 gift of start-up capital from a church member, gave life to the newly formed Shalom Zone.
Over the past 18 years, the ASZ has provided thousands of hours of adult education for primarily non-English-speaking adults – primarily refugees and immigrants – through GED and computer classes. The ASZ has also housed a soup kitchen, food pantry, thrift store, Cub Scouts/Boy Scouts, and an HIV/AIDS education and testing agency.
Ministry to Buffalo’s West Side will continue through the Niagara Frontier City Ministries. If you would like to continue to support inner city ministry, you can send your financial contributions to NFCM, c/o Williamsville UMC, 5681 Main St., Williamsville, N.Y. 14221-5517.