Our Story

In a Nutshell

  • Our worship style is liturgically traditional.
  • Our beliefs are theologically progressive.
  • Our desire is to provide warm welcome and acceptance to all people, including you.

Our Historic Space

The Sanctuary of Third Church was completed in 1892.  The interior has been renovated several times to improve accessibility and acoustics, most recently in 2010, but the soaring ribbed vaulting and the beautiful stained glass windows remain.

Still Making History

From the time of our congregation’s founding in 1827, we have embraced our Reformed tradition heritage, earnestly questioning the status quo and following wherever the Spirit leads—even into new ways of thinking and living. When presented with challenges in culture or society, we study, consult experts, pray, and debate with open minds and open hearts. This commitment brought us to the forefront of many social movements in the last century, and continues to inspire our outreach and advocacy today.

  • Third Church was founded in 1827 by a group seeking to build a worshiping community on the east side of the Genesee River. They met one Sunday, agreed to build a home for the new congregation, funded the project, and saw construction completed in time for worship the following Sunday! That rough-hewn, modest meeting house was eventually replaced by a stone chapel on the same site, and then by our current, much larger, Sanctuary and facilities at the corner of East and Meigs.
  • In 1831 religious revivalist Charles Grandison Finney spent six months preaching from the Third Church pulpit, inspiring the Second Great Awakening

    Lilian Alexander

  • In 1953, prompted by Elder Lilian Alexander, Third Church became an advocate for women’s ordination to ministry within the national Presbyterian Church, and repeatedly brought proposals to the national governing body. Our overture was finally approved by the national church in 1956.
  • In 1987 Third Church officially became a More Light church, pledging to  “warmly welcome all who are seeking God and/or have found reconciliation to God and neighbors through Jesus Christ, regardless of racial-ethnic origin, gender, age, sexual orientation, or other human condition.” We have worked to change policies toward the LGBTQ community within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), as well as in the New York State Legislature and the Boy Scouts of America.
  • We are a Matthew 25 Church, a Certified Hunger Action Congregation, and a participant in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Commitment to Peacemaking.