LEON - On Dec. 11, members of the Celebration Fellowship Church gathered in celebration of the 175th year of the church.
In 1836, the people who had settled in ''Leon Center'' had outgrown the primitive log cabin-style building they were using as a meeting hall and church. They had a plan to build a church large enough to hold their congregation as well as those people who were coming to Western New York.
They cut the huge trees from the surrounding hills and hewed out the beams that were the frame work of the future. The stone foundation was laid and the community came together to ''raise'' the church. The sanctuary was finished and the church was opened.
Built in 1836, the church now home to the Celebration Fellowship Church in Leon recently marked its 175th birthday.
The church was the first church in Western New York to be heated. It had two chimneys in the front and two stoves. The preacher's pulpit was between the stoves.
The original plan for the church had a sanctuary and a bell tower. It was 22 years later that the bell tower and the entryway were added. By then, the stream running through the town had saw mills capable of sawing big beams and board. The bell tower is mostly sawed lumber.
In 1858 the bell was hoisted up to the top of the tower and still rings to this day. The church was the centerpiece of a small town and a tribute to the people who made it all come true. ''Leon,'' as it was called in 1858, had built its first church.
The church is still being used today. The Celebration Fellowship Church was established in June 2003 as an independent, non-denominational, Christian church and meeting in the old church building at the corner of Route 62 and Cherry Creek Hill in Leon. The church became incorporated in December 2004.
Church services are held every Sunday at 11 a.m., led by Pastor Thomas O. Maynard. Fellowship follows all services, and all are invited to attend.
During the celebration, the church hosted the Forestville Wesleyan Church Choir, which presented selections from ''A Brooklyn Tabernacle Christmas'' to get members into the Christmas spirit and the reason for the season. The congregation also honored a couple who passed this year, Carmen and Betty Lyons.