Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Our Vision Statement

"We are all pilgrims, we all want to go home again. WCCC is home to a diverse and growing community of seekers who find safety, share deeply, dare often, embrace love and celebrate life together. You are welcome here. Welcome home."

Rebuilding Our Church

Our Story

For 170 years, the Church stood on a hill in West Cummington. A small, beautiful, white, clapboard building, it married, baptized, comforted, challenged and celebrated the living, and tolled the bell for the many who died. In January of 2010 our building burned to the ground.

But our church still lives.

Since the 1840’s, the West Cummington Church has been the center of this tiny hilltown community. With an up and down history, from the days of no heat at all to pot-bellied stoves which sent heat through pipes held up by a scaffolding of wires ascending the ceiling, it was sometimes a struggle to keep it alive at all. For many years, the church shared a pastor with the Village Church in Cummington and held services in its own building only in the summer. At one point, volunteers who earned $50 per sermon conducted services. Older parishioners tell of the hat that went round and round among the few attendees until the $50 was collected.

In the 1990’s everything began to change. One volunteer preacher, Stephen Philbrick, caught the spirit and the imagination of his listeners. He is still with us. Now licensed by the United Church of Christ but not ordained, Stephen has been our spiritual guide, leader and friend for 15 years. He comes to his calling as a poet and a storyteller as well as a former shepherd and consummate woodsman. Under Steve’s guidance, the church has grown. Sunday services are always well attended and all newcomers are welcome. Regulars, or “irregulars,” as Steve calls some of us, and new people come from far and wide. Over these last years, the church has become a beacon of light and a community gathering place for many events, -- musical, literary, and spiritual.

Who We Are

The people of our church are all ages, run the gamut of religious convictions and preferences. We have no creed but come together to seek, to explore spiritual questions and to give assistance to those in need. We are an open and affirming church; we welcome seekers without regard to income, creed, race, gender, age, physical or mental ability or sexual orientation. The sacraments, including marriage, are open to everyone. We support each other in our respective journeys.

We also provide an opportunity for anyone in the congregation to stand behind the pulpit, conduct services and present the sermon on Lay Sunday, the third Sunday of each month. On these Sundays, Steve gets to ‘go to church’ as a member of the congregation.

Children are cherished and welcome in our parish. We have a “children’s time” during the service and then the children adjourn for a program designed especially for them.

The church also seeks to help those in need beyond our doors. We have a monthly “Broader Mission” special offering that is designated for local or faraway causes or crises. We also help individuals in our community through the Minister’s Discretionary Fund.

As a congregation, led by Penny Schultz, we love to sing! Our old church was well known for its wonderful acoustics. Over the years, many musicians performed there – from up-and-coming children in our congregation, to members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, from local to world-renown groups and singers. All these musicians appreciated the quality of sound in our building, one of our priorities for the new church.

What We Need

For the past year and a half, the West Cummington Church community has been planning for rebuilding. We have a wonderful pro bono architect in Bruce Wood and we have approved a design. We have hired a builder/contractor. We have dealt with endless issues of site, engineering, regulations and variances, with the assistance of many officials and experts outside the church. We have committed to a budget of $800,000 to finance this reconstruction. We have received what we can from the insurance companies and have raised more than $250,000 in gifts and pledges, but $80,000 is still needed. Our goal is to raise this total by January 31, 2012. Now we are launching the public phase of our fundraising campaign and asking those who support our vision and community to give generously.

The money we raise will build a church that in most visible ways resembles the building we loved: a simple white clapboard structure with beautiful Gothic touches and large windows to let in light. The interior will also be similar to the old building with the addition of accessibility, bathrooms and a rear vestibule that will allow entrance and exit without disturbing the congregation. We plan a building that is “green” in all possible ways and that will use local materials and local labor, including volunteers, whenever we can.

What You Can Do

Rebuilding our church is a huge undertaking for all of us and on July 16th we are breaking ground. We hope to be in our church by next spring. To complete the rebuilding of our church we need to raise the $80,000 that remains.

We need your help and your generosity now. Can you help?

If 100 people/families pledge $266 per year for three years (that’s 73 cents a day), we will have the $80,000 needed to complete this beautiful place of worship. What can you give to support the rebuilding of the West Cummington Congregational Church?

Any and all gifts are deeply appreciated. We offer our heartfelt thanks for helping us continue our work so that we may welcome everyone back to a new home in West Cummington.

Finally, please join us on Sundays at 9:30, now at our temporary home, 27 West Main Street in West Cummington, and soon in the church on the hill.

No comments:

Post a Comment