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ChurchLIVE is located at The Old Methodist Church

8 Church Lane, Chatham Center, NY 12184-4201


Dear friends,

As many of you know, my husband Rob and I bought this beautiful old building in 2014. We did it to save it from becoming apartments or a private residence. We did it to preserve history. We did it to host music concerts, workshops, events and exhibits. We did it to provide a peaceful and beautiful sanctuary where people could come to meditate, pray, or simply to feel connected to the deeper matters of life. We were outbid by investment buyers who were getting prices on the pews and stained glass windows- but by amazing twists and turns the opportunity came back to us. The sellers knew we would love and care for the building, treat it with the deepest respect, and protect it from the fate of many other old buildings. I can tell you that I love this building with a mighty love, and have the strongest feelings about protecting it. I feel compelled to keep the doors open for everything good the building can offer to the community.

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Rory Block at ChurchLIVE! June 2015
Guy Davis at ChurchLIVE! July 2015
Rory Block with The Payne AME Choir of The Payne AME Church, Chatham, NY

Thus far we have funded everything out of pocket- the purchase price, closing costs, monthly mortgage payments, additional loans, property taxes, utilities, renovations, etc- we have paid it all ourselves. We are now completely out of money and options. We have resisted reaching out, but in order to avoid having to say goodbye forever to the building and all it offers, we simply must raise funds. I am not an investment buyer, nor am I in this for the money. I have taken no salary. To me this is a labor of love. Just ask the people who have come through our doors and to our events.

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Rev. Jeanette Johnson leads The Payne AME Choir, ChurchLIVE!July 2017
The Heavenly Echoes performed at ChurchLIVE!, July 2019
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Rory leads a slide guitar workshop at our 3rd Annual Blues & Gospel Fest
Talking about "the Zen of slide."

Many people have stopped by to thank us for saving the building and for hosting concerts. A surprising number of people who attended the church as children have stopped by to express their appreciation, and to marvel that the building is still open and being cared for. Our music events have drawn fans from near and far. One devoted music lover drove down from Canada twice to attend concerts. When a freak storm toppled many large trees across local roads, people parked where they could and walked to make it to the Guy Davis concert. Every summer we host a fabulous gospel concert with world class artists, as well as a slide workshop for aspiring guitarists. 

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Craig Hancock & Ray Cerbone at our Open Mic Night, August 2015
For the past four years we have collaborated with local Arts Center PS21, presenting events at both venues spanning four consecutive days. Last Summer was the 4th Annual Rory Block's Blues & Gospel Festival, and over time we have presented The Campbell Brothers, Diunna Greenleaf, Shemekia Copeland, Duke Robillard, The Strait Way Ministries Choir, Sisters of Slide, The Payne AME Choir, The Macedonia Baptist Church Men's Choir, and The Heavenly Echoes. We have every desire to continue on with this Festival, but it remains to be seen if we can gather the resources.
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photo: Shonna Valeska
Diunna Greenleaf & The Strait Way Ministries Choir w/ Robert Johnson's Grandson
Steven Johnson, at Rory Block's 3rd Annual Blues & Gospel Fest, July 2018
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Duke Robillard & Shemekia Copeland
at Rory Block's 4th Annual Blues & Gospel Fest, July 2019

Please consider making a donation, whatever you can afford. Our first goal will be to pay the purchase price: $132,000 (not including closing costs or legal fees). If we succeed, then we can address additional goals, such as a new heating system, kitchen renovations, a professional lighting system, upgrades to the audio system, wheelchair ramps, and a fund for bringing in great artists and performers. For us to be able to continue, the immediate priority will be the purchase price.

Rory & Rev. Iris Wadell
When we first bought the church I thought I'd find someone to lead the Sunday services. Soon it became clear it would have to be me (short answer). That's when I went to my mentor Rev. Iris Wadell, now retired Pastor of the Payne AME Church. She counseled and encouraged me saying "Just be yourself, don't try to be like anyone else." 
My first official pastoring job occurred at our opening event, The Blessing of The Animals, in May 2015. Here, Cooper takes charge of the proceedings with an impromptu drink from the Holy Water. We at ChurchLIVE! are passionately pro-animal, pro-environment and pro-peace. We believe there needs to be a safe, clean world for every living thing.

Please look at our past events to see some of what we have accomplished. Our goal is to bring as many interesting and wonderful events to the public as possible, and at the same time maintaining the architectural beauty and spiritual heritage of the building. If we have to give up this project, the chances are great that the entire historic form of the building and its use as an Arts Center will be over forever. We hope you agree with some of our goals!

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Back row left to right: Warren Van Alstyne, Curtis Johnson, Naomi Pitts, Rory Block, Yvonne Johnson- front row left to right: Rev. Corinne Summers, Priscilla McArthur, Rev. Jeanette Johnson, and Rev. Linda Van Alstyne.
Here I am with my dear friends from the Payne AME church choir, who have supplied unlimited love, wisdom and unprecedented support for this project- who performed to a sold out house at ChurchLIVE, who have enthusiastically attended all our gospel events, and helped out in more ways than I can ever recount. With love and immense gratitude, I say thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Some of what we have done thus far:


Rob painted the front of the building (yep, he fell off a ladder- no more ladders for a while)!! We searched for and found the original collapsed septic tank and installed a new 1,000 gallon tank. We replaced dysfunctional kitchen plumbing with all new lines, requiring excavation around the perimeter of the building to connect into the new septic, and installed a new well troll. Downstairs Rob removed the old sheet rock and painstakingly re-pointed the antique brick walls, sealed the 

floor, renovated the bathrooms, patched cement, while our friend Loyd repaired the plaster in the sanctuary, teetering on a ladder, painted the interior and ripped out old linoleum from the office. Incredibly, this uncovered a layer of newspaper, perfectly preserved, from 1949, the year I was born! Honestly, it certainly seems like nothing is by accident. Now everything is lovely, aired out, and filled with a sense of peace that everyone notices as soon as they come through the doors.

The office, once a utilitarian space with cracked plaster walls, heavily worn linoleum floors, and dreary metal file cabinets, was rejuvenated with a fresh coat of paint, removal of old flooring (which revealed a sub-layer of perfectly preserved newspaper from 1949, the year I was born)!! plus beautiful wide board wood floors. I added some furniture, hung pictures, including many of our friends the animals, Rob painted two old cabinets from downstairs, and now we have an inviting space for meetings, visiting pastors, guests and friends.
Each of the stained glass windows contains the names of the founding families, one of whom built my house just two doors away. This building is an outstanding example of the history and tradition of upstate NY and in my view needs to be protected.



























The Blessing of the Animals

Rory Block in concert

Open Mic Night (acoustic only please)

Songwriter Workshop

Conversations - Aspiring writers, authors & poets

Musicians Network Meeting

Rev. Singletary Church Service

Guy Davis in concert

Conversations - About Grief

Journey thru Afghanistan - photos on canvas exhibit

Musicians Network Meeting

Open Mic Night (acoustic only please) 

Rev. Singletary Holy Communion & healing service

Rory Block Slide Guitar Workshop (2hrs) 

Conversations - About Grief

Musicians Network Meeting 


Children's creative music, dance & stories workshop 

Sunday Services

Choir Fest at Church Live hosted by PS21

Sunday service with Straitway Ministries Church from Utica,

MS & Payne AME Church of Chatham, NY 


Gospel Concert w/ Straitway Ministries Church@ PS21

Rory Block - Slide Workshop


The Macedonia Baptist Church Men's Choir & The Heavenly Echoes


Rory Block & The Heavenly Echoes


























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ChurchLIVE Videos

ChurchLIVE! Videos

Heavenly Echoes at ChurchLIVE!

Steven Johnson, Rory & The Strait Way Ministries Choir

Rory & The Strait Way Ministries Choir
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