Binghamton Church Building Tour to Include New Heights Ministries

For a second year, the annual Sacred Sites Open House will be virtual. The event, from 1 to 2 p.m. on Sunday, August 15, is sponsored by the South End Preservation Association.

One of the featured churches has been home to two different congregations over 83 years.

The light-colored brick building at the corner of Front Street and Riverside Drive in Binghamton was built for the First Church of Christ, Scientist. Since 2006, members of New Heights Ministries have worshiped there.

“Our services are anything but boring,” senior pastor and bishop Larry Simpson said, “Our services are very, very busy.”

The sanctuary can accommodate several hundred people in the thick wooden benches; even if, in the time of the pandemic, some are blocked for social distancing. Behind and above there are more seats on the balcony. Hanging in front, a dozen flags.

“The flags represent nationalities, country, people who were here or currently here as members of the church,” Simpson said.

A warm, neutral paint replaced the blue walls. It’s inviting for everyone, including the pastor, who sometimes comes alone to pray, walk and talk with God. He remembers seeing something one day while spending time there.

“As I was going through the back, I looked forward, and so I had what I call a vision,” Simpson said.

He saw “flames of the Spirit” that burned nothing. Soon after, he asked an artist to design the image which is painted on a screen in front of the pulpit.

It is from the pulpit that Simpson, his wife and others preach “words of encouragement”.

“I have a favorite saying,” he said. “We are standing in the pulpit and people around the floor. But my message – our job is to get them out of the pit.

Bishop Larry Simpson is the senior pastor of New Heights Ministries.

Simpson noted that there have been a few changes to the building over the years. The lower floor was once the Christian Science reading room. Now it is filled with tables and chairs for meals and Bible study. There is a large screen TV for watching movies.

The area near the boiler was fenced off. A separate preparation area and a full kitchen have been installed next to it. They have been widely used for soup kitchens and chicken barbecues.

Two floors up is the pastor’s office. The simple meeting room with table and chairs has been replaced. A desk and cabinets are in one part of the room, a seating area with comfortable furniture in the other.

“We really did a lot,” Simpson said.

“I’m trying to keep God’s edifice looking as good as possible,” he said.

Simpson expressed concern about the exterior, where bricks and mortar are beginning to crumble. Repairs are estimated at $45,000.

“Right now we’re having barbecues. We’re having fundraisers. We have pledges. We’re doing everything we can to raise funds,” he said.

New Heights was the lowest bidder for the building a decade and a half ago. A law firm has made an additional offer, with plans to divide the building into offices. But the First Church of Christ, Scientist, wanted her to stay for worship. Simpson said if his church ever sold the structure, it would be to another congregation as well.

According to the Preservation Association, George Bain Cummings designed the building. They mentioned the three distinctive rounded arches that frame the main entrance. At the top of the building is a tablet bearing the name New Heights Ministries.

The St. John family home in Binghamton.  It was demolished in 1938 to make way for the First Church of Christ, Scientist.

The association said the land the building sits on was originally on the property of Daniel LeRoy, who sold it to Louis Saint-Jean in 1811. The first two were residents of Binghamton. Maison Saint-Jean was completed in 1835. It was demolished on August 31, 1938 to make way for the construction of the church which still stands today.

More information

  • New Heights Ministries: 17 Front Street in Binghamton. Email larry.simpson1956@gmail.com or call 607-723-0005.
  • To participate in the Sacred Sites Virtual Open House from 1-2 p.m. on Sunday, August 15, go to pastny.org, then click Tours and Events for the link.

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