Aug. 25, 1956 – Sept. 24, 2017
A powerful preacher, the Rev. Linda M. Badame started her church 15 years ago in the banquet room of a Niagara Falls hotel with a karaoke machine as her sound system.
Before long she found a more agreeable setting in the Summit Mall in Wheatfield. It became the Wheatfield Community Church and the congregation began growing.
“She did lots of outreach things,” said her younger sister, Maria Badame Morabito. “She had ladies’ luncheons and fashion shows, always with a gospel message. They were always just very enjoyable.”
After the Summit Mall closed in 2008, she held services for five years in Meadowbrook Square Plaza on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Wheatfield. Then she had the opportunity to acquire the Church of the Nazarene building on 91st Street in Niagara Falls. She renamed it In His Presence Church.
“She took a lot of pride in the church,” her sister said. “She did a lot of fixing and painting. This was a huge step, to have a beautiful church.”
Rev. Badame died Sunday in Sisters Hospital after a lengthy battle with cancer. She was 61.
Born in Buffalo, she grew up on the West Side. Her father had a dry cleaning shop near D’Youville College and she attended Holy Angels Catholic Church. The family moved to North Tonawanda when she was 17 and she studied medical technology at Niagara County Community College.
She worked as a medical technologist in the operating room at DeGraff Memorial Hospital in North Tonawanda, then was assistant to a physician in North Tonawanda. She went on to have a supervisory position in the central supply department at Our Lady of Victory Hospital in Lackawanna, then worked in organ and tissue procurement for Unyts.
After a back injury left her unable to work, she began studying the Bible.
“She knew God, but she didn’t have a relationship with Him,” her sister said, “and it was a very powerful thing for her. She dove into the Bible. It transformed her life for the better.”
She went to study at evangelist Peter Youngren’s church in St. Catharines, Ont., became ordained and planned to become a traveling minister.
In 2002, while driving in Wheatfield, she decided to start her own congregation. Her hope was that it would become a mega-church.
“People started to get to know her and she would do things for the community,” her sister said. “If there was a need, she filled it. People have been telling me how she would stay with them for hours to help them out of depression or sadness. A few times, she took people in who didn’t have a home.”
She took part in marriage and financial seminars. She hosted movie nights and clothing drives. She appeared regularly on a panel of ministers in the “Ask the Pastor” call-in program on the TCT television network. She tried to keep the Summit Mall open by organizing a coalition of tenants to buy shares in the property.
Nine years ago, she also established a school, Christ the King Preparatory Academy, in Niagara Falls. Her sister serves as principal.
“We’re going to continue to do those things she did,” her sister said. “Friends will be filling in at the pulpit. She had everything arranged so that things will remain.”
In addition to her sister, survivors include a niece, a nephew and cousins.
A memorial service was held Thursday in In His Presence Church, 704 91st St., Niagara Falls.