Thousands gather at KeyBank arena for ‘Pentecost Together’
By Kyle Patterson
Buffalo, New York was recently named one of the top 10 most post-Christian cities in America, but a group of churches is hoping to change that by fulfilling Jesus’ command for unity.
A group of churches, known as “Church of WNY”, gathered in KeyBank Center, the city's hockey arena, this past Friday for "Pentecost Together," a worship celebration of Pentecost, the day the Christian church was birthed. Church of WNY includes churches from multiple denominations in the Buffalo region including Assembly of God, Baptist, Wesleyan, and Episcopal, among others. The effort has coined the term, “Better together,” as a way of expressing their collaborative effort to unite the “big C” church in the greater Buffalo/Niagara region.
Among the speakers at the event were Pastor Jerry Gillis of the Chapel at Crosspoint in Getzville, NY, Marty MacDonald of the City Church in Batavia, and Pat Jones of Eastern Hills Wesleyan Church in Williamsville. Other notable mentions were Steve Tasker, former Buffalo Bill and spokesman for West Herr Automotive Group who encouraged the attendees, “There is so much to celebrate and to point to, to see God is moving in our region. This unity will empower us to live out the gospel of Jesus in our region.”
This worship celebration is the second large scale event and outreach by the group of churches. In 2013, Church of WNY organized a special collaborative event for Good Friday, coined “Good Friday Together,” where an estimated 13,000 came together for worship and a special service centered around the 7 last statements of Jesus on the cross.
Leaders of the effort hope their example help to answer the prayer of Jesus in John 17, who prayed that his followers would be one as he and the Father are one. Historically Buffalo has been one of the nation’s most divided cities and according to the Barna Group, post-Christian and one of the least Bible minded. But there is hope in Christ, who can change any heart and humble any person.
The KeyBank center is home to the Buffalo Sabres hockey team, owned by Terry and Kim Pegula, professing Christian believers. Kim Pegula is a graduate of Houghton College, a Christian college in the small town of Houghton, New York with a population of close to 2,000.
Terry Pegula was in the oil and gas business until Royal Dutch Shell bought his company for $4.7 billion making him an instant billionaire. The funds from the sale of his company allowed Pegula to become the sole owner of both the Sabres and the Buffalo Bills. His developments in Buffalo also include Harbor Center, a youth hockey destination, hotel, restaurant and landmark Tim Horton’s Coffee Shop, a chain of coffee shops, extremely popular in the Northeast United States and across Canada.
Other initiatives by Church of WNY include a church planting initiative that gives financial support to new church plants through an application and vision presentation process.
Photo: Credit Church of WNY.