First African American church in Town of Ontario continues to grow

ONTARIO, N.Y. – The church opened its doors nearly four years ago, and the congregation continues to grow. Pastor Lorenzy Smith Jr., of Prayer House of God, says it’s all about giving back.

“We both graduated from high school here in Ontario, and we both live now in East Rochester. We wanted to give back to this town. Something for the kids. Something for the elderly. Because it is a great place to live,” says Pastor Smith.

He says that making history was never part of his vision.

Born with Keratoconus Disease, struggling to see anything has been a part of Pastor Smith’s entire life.

“I totally lost my vision, and after many surgeries, I regained my vision enough to take care of myself, and it just constantly got better as I continued to have surgeries,” said Pastor Smith.

But that didn’t stop him from making an impact on his community.

“I didn’t even think of that, and then I got a phone call from this gentleman who told me that the church you are opening is the first black church in the town of Ontario.”

Visiting the church for the first time today, the pastor’s grandson DeShawn Smith says it’s an experience he will never forget.

“He always loves people to come into his church. He doesn’t care about who you are. The color you are. What you’ve been through it’s about sharing the word of God ya know.”

He is proud of his grandfather’s legacy and the impact it has had on his life and the lives of so many others.

“My granddad has always talked about having his own church and his grandkids being a part of that, so I always had this picture of my head of us being up there, with our own little choir, and giving God praise, and having a good time,” DeShawn Smith said.