SPRINGFIELD – In every city, there is a church that becomes an integral part of the community and serves as a place where you can worry less about impressing thy neighbor and truly focus on loving thy neighbor. It’s a church where the message about God's unconditional love and grace serves as the spiritual centerpiece. South Congregational Church on the corners of Maple and High Streets in Springfield is one of those churches.
The congregation is multi-racial and multi-generational; during my visits, I could feel the urgency of inclusion and acceptance. Sermons are intimate and life-affirming and reflect a church with growth and Christian outreach on its mind.
South “Cong's” beautiful stone Gothic cathedral looms large on its corner. Upon arrival one may feel chastened purely based on design, for its tower is 120 feet closer to God than you and I. However, this house of God is more like a sentinel that watches over and comforts its downtown neighborhood. Indeed, it’s massive round rose window is like a glorious eye that guides your travels down Maple Street. Dedicated in 1875, the sanctuary is capacious and splendid, but is temporarily closed during restorations. Services are being held in the adjoining chapel which is splendid in its own right but more intimate. The rest of the building is a catacomb of rooms that may take time to navigate, but members and church staff are ready to help and quickly become the friendly faces that bring this heavenly structure down to earth.
The Church's mission further dispels any concerns that might stem from first impressions; South Congregational is an Open and Affirming church. It is a congregation that supports gay, lesbian and transgendered individuals and families. The goal is to create a loving alliance and judgment-free environment through ministry and works. And though there are some traditional elements in South’s church services, the mission alone reminds us that the love of which Jesus taught was far from traditional. Agape love is something we should strive to give others and something we all seek to experience.
For the Kids: South Congregational is a parent-friendly church. There’s Sunday school and child-care during services. There’s a weekly message just for kids before they head off to class. After service, everyone is invited to fellowship in the Parish Hall.
For the Spirit: Weekly sermons at 10 a.m. in the intimate and beautiful chapel.
Ministries include the Prayer Shawl Ministry which donates hand knitted hats, blankets, and other items to hospice and those in need. A Sewing Group and South Church Cooks at which folks cook and serve for the monthly Loaves and Fishes community meal program. A host of other activities and community service round out the church's weekly schedule. You can call at 413-732-01117 or email the office.