It all started in 1971 and 1972. A group of Christian believers had been holding house meetings. They also preached at various evangelistic services throughout Central and Northern New York. After several months of these outreach activities, they felt called of God to form a local Church. Of course, forming a Church in itself is not all that unusual. Many organized religious groups serve the Greater Syracuse Area. But the vision these believers had was for a New Testament, Spirit-filled, Christ-centered local work. Their intention was to have a place to worship and praise the Lord in Spirit and in Truth, using a full-context, balanced-Gospel approach to the Word of God. They also desired to proclaim an uncompromising Gospel message that would set a Godly standard before the community.
Intentions and words alone are not worth very much. However, today, approaching five decades later, the congregation founded by this fledgling group has many hundreds of members and operates a pre-K through 12th-grade Christian academy. Most importantly, the Church continues to preach a Christ-centered, Spirit-filled Gospel.
To us, members of the Church of the Living Word, that’s all-important. An uncompromising, Biblical, Spirit-filled witness in a world of half-truth, cultic error, dead religion and sin, tends to stand out in contrast to the society it’s a part of!
Now let’s return to the beginning… Approximately 13 people met in a dilapidated, former Methodist building in the tiny hamlet of Euclid, N.Y., in January of 1972. They had just formed a congregation, chartered by the State of New York as a non-profit religious organization.
No one really knew in detail what was going to happen next, although there had been some spectacular prophecies concerning the newly-formed Church’s future growth and function. The pastor, who had been saved in 1970 in Houston, Texas, knew he was called of God to be a shepherd of a local Christian flock serving the Syracuse and Central New York area. Each person at Euclid had a Salvation experience with Jesus Christ. And, the Lord was speaking to their hearts…
Would people come to the services in such an unlikely and out-of-the-way location? After all, there was dust on the floor that defied cleaning, a restroom situated next to the pulpit, and buzzing insects on the walls. Not the most suitable place to hold meetings! Added to that, there was opposition. People who were in favor of lively house meetings suddenly were against forming a new Church, especially one that might reflect on their spiritual background.
So the pastor, Bro. Robert J. Mazur, prayed: “Lord, if the religious people don’t want us, then send the ones that nobody else wants.” Almost immediately many of us in that category started showing up to all the meetings, four times a week. These later arrivals were quite a challenge for the Church’s founders, who were middle-class people in their thirties with little or no theological training. Thus, it was somewhat of a shock to them when even younger types started coming to the meetings. These were “flower children,” “hippies,” and “long-haired freaks.” Most of the newcomers had been or were on drugs.
Some had repeated brushes with the law. Some sported tie-dyed shirts, some wore mini-skirts (and those were their “dress-up” outfits). Most arrived skeptical and rebellious. Many left the same way. But, for a surprisingly large number of these mixed-up young people, a wonderful thing happened.
They came to check out this “crazy” new Church in Euclid. Instead of encountering man’s programs and man’s psychology, they ran head-on into a face-to-face encounter with Jesus, The Christ, The Son of the Living God. Many stayed with the work. They repented of sin, became filled with the Holy Ghost, and began leading sanctified, holy lives. They married, started families, obtained educations and good jobs. For some this took several years, and this was really still at the beginning…
A few months after its founding, so many people were attending the services that those in charge decided to rent a larger building on Rt. 370 between Liverpool and Baldwinsville called White’s Chapel. The meetings there grew rapidly, until the building’s capacity of about 130 people was filled to overflowing.
By late 1973, it was imperative that the young Church once again move to larger quarters. This was done in early 1974, to a former Baptist building in the heart of Phoenix, N.Y. There, the congregation continued to gain in numbers. People came to the meetings from as far away as 50 or 60 miles.
From the time of Euclid, to White’s Chapel, to Phoenix, and even to today, those who come to Living Word have heard very direct, basic preaching from God’s Word. The message was (and is) aimed first at Salvation and the Spirit’s Infilling, followed by Sanctification (dedication and commitment to Jesus Christ); Holiness; and Christian growth in faith and service to the Lord.
In July of 1978, the Lord led the Church to move once again. This time, it was from the village setting in Phoenix to a semi-industrial area on Court Street Road just north of Syracuse, about a mile from Thruway Exit 35 at Carrier Circle.
Since then, the Church has continued to grow over the years. This has resulted in:
In 1997, the Church embarked on another bold step by purchasing about eight acres of land adjacent to the Academy and began the process for construction of a new facility (The Family Worship Center) to help the Church continue fulfilling its mission.
The Church of the Living Word Family Worship Center: A fulfillment of the Lord’s promise
Shortly after Bro. Robert J. Mazur started pastoring the work, the Lord revealed many aspects of His future plan and direction for the Church. Over the years, we have seen God’s plan come to pass regarding the Academy, the Church campgrounds, many of the Church’s ministries including street preaching and television outreach, and the moving of the assembly hall to Syracuse, NY.
After almost 24 years of being on Court Street Rd., the Lord’s timing had finally come to move the meeting place up the road to its final location, next to the Academy. Truly, it has been the Lord who allowed everything to properly fall into place. Right from the beginning, the Lord provided the land next to the Academy to be purchased, the sorting out of all the legal details, and the finances to undertake such a monumental construction endeavor. The Lord put it on the individual hearts of the Saints that “Every man shall give as he is able according to the blessing of the Lord thy God which he hath given thee” (Deuteronomy 16:17). Likewise, the devoted love and volunteering of innumerable Saints who helped work on the structure, allowed the Church to keep costs down. The Lord then added the increase to see the project through. Finally, this vision that was shown and made known so many decades prior had come to pass! We thank the Lord for his faithfulness in bringing this promise to fulfillment because “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it…” (Psalm 127:1).
The building was specifically tailored to meet the needs of the Church. The structure houses a sanctuary, nurseries, a bookstore, a publications facility, and a large foyer and banquet hall that can be used for fellowship. However, what continues to be the most impressive isn’t the brickwork, the seating arrangements, the acoustics, or the previously mentioned structures within the facility. Rather, it is the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ continues to meet with His Saints in every service, just as He has done right from the inception of the Church. While the building itself is formidable, it is the fact that the Holy Spirit continues to have His way in the lives of people at each service that is most noteworthy. Meeting after meeting, people are repenting and getting saved as they make a sincere commitment to Jesus Christ. Many are being filled with the Holy Ghost and speaking in tongues, prophesying, speaking a word of wisdom, or a word of knowledge as the Spirit leads, while the Lord is healing others from diseases and afflictions through the laying on of hands from the Saints.
Having the Worship Center on the same campus as the Academy is a tremendous blessing for the Church members. Parents no longer have to shuttle children between two different locations for Sunday School and the Sunday morning service, as they did in the past. Likewise, for newcomers to the Church, the presence of the Academy buildings is a reminder of the importance that is placed on families as a whole. It is also a reminder of the vital ministry of passing on the Christian faith to our children.
Our pastors have decided to appropriately title the new building as “The Living Word Family Worship Center.” As always, the focus of Living Word Church continues to be on families (both natural and spiritual) engaging in the praise and worship of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, while allowing the Holy Spirit to do His work that brings change to people’s lives.