The Pilgrim Holiness Church of Canandaigua officially started meeting together in 1964 when Rev. Rillie Bidwell and Rev. Fred McCulley held a tent meeting in the Canandaigua area. However, the dream for the church started years earlier when in 1942 a local farmer, Harry Love, expressed his belief to another farmer, Ken Hessler, that some day a holiness church would sit on his property overlooking the city of Canandaigua. The farm was sold at that time to Ken Hessler who was able to see this dream fulfilled, when in 1966, twenty-four years later, Mr. Hessler sold four acres of this land to the Conference of the Pilgrim Holiness Church of New York. That year, a second tent meeting was held with Rev. William McCulley, Rev. Francis Richmond, Rev. Donald Hardy, and Rev. Joseph Hunting as evangelists.

Following this tent meeting, regular services were held in the homes of local families interested in a work in Canandaigua. Rev. Milton Pierpoint and other Conference pastors assisted faithfully in conducting the services. In January 1967, the Y.M.C.A. was rented for services.

In July 1967, Rev. Leonard Lum and family moved to Canandaigua, with Rev. Lum becoming the first full time pastor. Under his leadership and the help of dedicated laymen, a combination church and parsonage was begun in October of that year and dedicated the following June with Rev. Andrew Whitney, Conference President, officiating. The church was organized in May 1969 with thirteen charter members.

In July 1972, Rev. Alvin Downs and his wife and daughters moved to Canandaigua to assume the pastorate of the church. It was during Rev. Downs’ ministry, that on June 20, 1976, a ground breaking ceremony was conducted to build a new church building. It is of note that on that same day a mortgage burning service was held on the combination church and parsonage. Pastor and church families labored faithfully until finally on Easter Sunday 1979 the first service was conducted in the new church building and it was dedicated on June 15, 1979. The church mortgage was burned in June 1992. Rev. Downs faithfully served this congregation for twenty-three years. In July 1995, Rev. Daniel Heckman and family moved to Canandaigua to become the third pastor and have served to date. Interestingly, the pastor’s wife, Sr. Sharon Heckman, has returned to her home where her father, Rev. Leonard Lum, pastored over 23 years ago.

We believe that the Pilgrim Holiness Church of Canandaigua, as much as any church in the New York Conference, was planted by God. The seed that was planted over 55 years ago in the heart of a local farmer, and carried out by the labors of subsequent pastors and church families, and, more importantly, through the leadership of God, has influenced and helped advance the Kingdom of God in Canandaigua, the New York Conference, and throughout the world. We thank God for the memories of His blessings on the work in past years, but we believe that some of the best years, with God’s continued blessings, are yet before us.

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Last Modified on 12/9/00