Outreach & Mission
From our Mission Statement:
Through our creative involvement in the “Three W’s,” – Worship, Word, Work - we strive to listen with our whole being. In Worship… we listen with our hearts…. In our discernment of God’s Word, we listen with our minds.... In our Work, we listen with our hands and feet as we help build up God’s kingdom in our community, and in the world.
CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE
From an article entitled: Faith at Work…Working our Faith, by Amy Swisher
“Everywhere we turn in the community, we see members and friends of Second Congregational Church at work: volunteering in the schools and at the hospital; serving on boards of directors and spearheading coalitions; running for office and running small businesses; nurturing children; healing those who are in pain; exhibiting artwork and playing music; tending gardens; organizing events; and providing backstage support.
Second Congregational Church is alive in our actions throughout the week, wherever we are doing our work – paid and unpaid, public and private. The church breathes life into our community as we bring all that we are and believe and are passionate about to the work we do.
Faith at work... happens as we witness the body of Christ at work in our collective hands and feet, hearts and minds; in conscious and unconscious moments of grace.”
Besides the mission accomplished with our everyday involvement in the community, members and friends of the church also sponsor specific projects to benefit the many who turn to us for assistance.
Each week, every Tuesday and Wednesday at 5:00 pm, a host of people come to Community Meals, which are served up by various groups from around town and beyond. An average of seventy people come to these meals every week. They come not only to feed their bodies but also to feed their souls. They catch up with each other’s stories, tease one another, and remember those among them who have special need for prayer and healing.
Bread for Life
Every month on a Saturday morning, from nine to eleven, cooks, bottle washers, and assembly line baggers prepare a hundred and five tasty meals for folks who simply need to benefit from this kind of help. At eleven the deliverers come in on the kitchen scene and proceed to take the menu du jour to the people on their respective routes.
These members and friends of the church are part of a circle of churches that have made a commitment to render this service 52 times a year.
The Giving Tree
Our church actively raises money to help those less fortunate. We give generously to local projects, such as the Survival Center, the Food Bank, Nelcwit, the Crop Walk, Relay for Life, disaster relief appeals, as well as the UCC’s worldwide program, known as Our Church's Wider Mission.
On the first Sunday of each month, a day we celebrate Holy Communion, we take up a special offering for the Communion Fund which is used as an emergency aid source.
ONE GREAT HOUR OF SHARING
OGHS deserves a special place on our website because it occupies a special place in our hearts. We set aside a special Sunday each year to give to this immense channel of giving, in which many denominations participate and from which millions of suffering people benefit.
As the UCC webpage states, the OGHS supports the following ministries: National Disaster Ministries, Refugee Ministries, Volunteer Ministries and Global Ministries. To learn more about OGHS, click on http://www.ucc.org/oghs/
USE OF BUILDING
The location of Second Congregational Church in the heart of Greenfield makes it a great place for meetings, forums, concerts, large and small and other events.
We rent out space in the building on a regular and on a one time basis.
We see as this an extension of our mission to the community. In this way we give support to the important work of various groups in town, and various groups can help Second Church remain a beautiful and useful building on the Common of Greenfield.
ADULT STUDY GROUPS
As our Mission Statement states: Our way is ‘the transformation of the self for the transformation of the world. And as life itself tells us, transformation is a never-ending process. As Paul says in Romans 12:2, Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
We have committed ourselves to this lifelong pursuit. Witness the weekly Scripture reflections at Centering Prayer encounters, book groups, Advent and Lenten series, retreats, seminars, lectures, and or course preaching at worship services.
More specifically, this, in part, is what we have offered over the last several years:
• Retreats led by Robert Jonas, Donna Schaper, Cynthia Bourgeault.
• A lecture by Father Thomas Keating
• Retreats away, at Warner Farm in Cummington, MA and in parish members’ homes
• Open forums dealing with issues, such as the blending of the traditional and the contemporary in our worship services
• A two-year study that led to Second Church’s decision to become an Open and Affirming Church
• Four-week programs on prayer, the Gospels, and the church’s Wider Mission
• Seven session workshops on the following topics and books
- Centering Prayer and Centered Living
- Return of the Prodigal Son, by Henri Nouwen
- The Heart of Christianity, by Marcus Borg
- The Sermon on the Mount, by Emmet Fox
- Unbinding the Gospel, by Martha Grace Reese
Future educational opportunities will be listed on our Monthly Calendar.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION: Second Congregation Church's Cherish the Children Program
Every Sunday the fully-equipped nursery is staffed by an experienced church member.
Children age four and under are welcome to participate in the nursery program during the worship service. They are also welcome to stay in the congregation with their parents or guardian.
Christian Formation for Children 4-12
As followers of Jesus who loves all the children of the world, we at Second Congregational Church treasure each and every child. We believe each child is a valuable part of our community.
Children are welcomed and invited to participate in the worship service through song, reading of the scriptures and interpretive dancing. Following the story time in the worship service, they are also invited to participate in a multi-age interactive learning experience. Through "Sacred Stories," for which the Bible is the main source, they learn about the care, respect and love Jesus showed each and every person he encountered. Song, play and art are integral to the overall program.
To cite an example of what we do at Second Church for our children, in 2012 we had a Children and Youth Service in which the children led the service through singing, playing their instruments and reading scriptures. The children were also presented with a t-shirt that expressed the overall message here at Second Church: that each child is special, loved by God and by the Church. These children will take us into the future.
Children's Outreach Events:
Our church is known in the wider community for its very special, very happy "happenings" or "events" for children.
We invite them and they come! To the "Bee Festival," to the
"Noah's Ark" re-enactment, and to the day-long "Celebrate Summer" event. With so many children coming to celebrate, name it and it's likely to happen: face-painting, puppet shows, dancers from Karen's dance studio, gardening experiences, a parade through the Farmer's Market on the Common, a personal encounter with Noah, a petting mini-zoo, etc. Participating in these events is believing God has a child's heart!
"Safe Church" policies undergird Second Congregational Church's Cherish the Children programs.
YOUTH - CONFIRMATION CLASSES
We are creating a program for our older children, which includes participation in the rituals of the congregation, field trips, mission work, cooking, and fund raising. A few years ago we put on a musical with the children and wish to do so again in the future.
When the children reach 7th or 8th grade, they participate in our Confirmation program after which they may choose to become full members of the church.
Future educational opportunities will be listed on our Monthly Calendar.
NEW MEMBER CLASSES
Introducing new members to one another and to the church, its life and ministry. In four one-hour sessions.
At each session we will experience various prayer forms: Centering prayer, chanting, litany of thanksgiving, silence, praise, etc.
First session: The journey that took you to Second Church
• Getting acquainted with one another
• Each person sharing his or her journey
Second session: How Second Church is organized
• Brief history
• Constitution, by-laws, committees, task forces
• Worship, Word, Work trilogy (worship being the main event)
Third session: Second Church’s affiliation with UCC
• MACUCC, the Western Mass and Franklin Associations
• The National Synod
• The four UCC predecessor traditions (brief history)
Fourth session: How do I serve the Church and its Mission?
• Godly Play
• Youth Group
• Committees and Task Forces
• Bread for Life (a Meals on Wheels project)
• Music ministry
A member of the church will partner with the new member during the first months of his or her association with the church community.
Centering Prayer is a method of silent prayer that prepares us to receive the gift of contemplative prayer, prayer in which we experience God's presence within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than consciousness itself. This method of prayer is both a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship.
Centering Prayer is not meant to replace other kinds of prayer. Rather, it adds depth of meaning to all prayer and facilitates the movement from more active modes of prayer — verbal, mental or affective prayer — into a receptive prayer of resting in God. Centering Prayer emphasizes prayer as a personal relationship with God and as a movement beyond conversation with Christ to communion with Him.
The source of Centering Prayer, as in all methods leading to contemplative prayer, is the Indwelling Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The focus of Centering Prayer is the deepening of our relationship with the living Christ. The effects of Centering Prayer are ecclesial, as the prayer tends to build communities of faith and bond the members together in mutual friendship and love. (Quoted from: www.contemplativeoutreach.org.)
Centering Prayer Program at Second Church
We have three Centering Prayer groups meeting weekly at Second Church, one group meeting on Tuesday at 7:00 am, a second group, on Thursday at 7:00 am, and a third group, on Thursday at 5:00 pm.
At the morning meetings we do Centering Prayer for 20 minutes, then, for the rest of the hour, we prayerfully reflect on the following Sunday’s scripture readings. Participants share their reflections as they are moved by the Spirit.
We begin the Thursday afternoon meeting with 20 minutes of Centering Prayer and then share some basic spiritual principles as they apply to everyday living.
The guiding theme of the total program at Second Church is Centering Prayer and Centered Living.
We invite you to join any one of these groups. For more information, please call the church office
- 413 774-4345 – and ask to speak to the pastor.
KNIT ONE, PRAY TOO
Every Wednesday at one o’clock a group of women from Robbins Church and Second Church meet to pray and knit – hats, mittens and scarves for the town’s Warm the Children Christmas event, indoor slippers and afghans for The Family Inn, and pink scarves for the Rays of Hope project. Woven into the work are prayers for the suffering and the needy.
One of the ways we support each other as a faith community is to offer a quick response prayer chain for those times when you or a loved one is experiencing special challenges.
Notify the church office (413-774-4355) of your need and the request for prayer will be relayed quickly to participating church members. It is our goal to respect confidentiality as we spend time every day praying for God’s love and light on the specific situation or need that has been brought to our attention. This is a prayer service for members or attendees of Second Congregational Church and is not intended to address general or world issues.
Second Church possesses a large, portable Labyrinth canvas that has been regularly deployed on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and on retreats at Warner Farm in Cummington, MA.
The hope and the plan is to provide a quasi-permanent space for the Labyrinth in the sanctuary. This is contingent upon raising the floor space in the front area of the sanctuary and removing at least one row of pews.
When and if this is done, the Labyrinth can be available every week from Monday to Friday when the church opens its doors from 12:00 to 2:00 pm.
We will then be able to invite people to come in, rest, sit and walk!
Read on to catch the depth attending the Labyrinth experience.
What is a Labyrinth?
The Labyrinth is an ancient meditative tool, an aid in prayer, and a way to pray. It is an archetype, a divine imprint, found in all religious traditions in various forms around the world. By walking a replica of the Chartres Labyrinth, laid in the floor of the Chartres Cathedral in France around 1220, we are discovering a long-forgotten tradition that is insisting to be born.
Appearing down the millennia in various cultures, this fundamental pattern or archetypal symbol carries a meaning and impact which works at a very back human level. Labyrinths date back to Crete and the earliest Greek culture. They appear in Egyptian tombs and on Etruscan vases, Celtic graverunes and Hawaiian petroglyphs, at shores of Baltic Viking settlements and around baskets used by the Hopi. At least 43 cathedrals in Europe included a labyrinth in the nave, laid out as a symbol for the journey of life and as a way for the faithful to make a religious pilgrimage when it became prohibitive to make a geographical one to Jerusalem.
The labyrinth is a sacred pattern, a path leading one into the center and out again. Marked by stones, tiles, turf, plants or paint, it is not a maze, for there are no dead ends, tricks or puzzles to solve. The path winds throughout and becomes a mirror for where we are in our lives; it touches our sorrows and releases our joys. Walk it with an open mind and an open heart.
How is the Labyrinth Used?
Both simple and complex, obvious and elusive, the labyrinth offers the walker an experience which engages the person both physically and spiritually. Used as a walking meditation our labyrinth has been walked by church groups, camp, and local organizations. People have found that walking the path can bring a focus and quiet to their mind; it can lead to reflection and awaken one to the deep rhythm which unites us to ourselves, to others, and to the Light that calls from the center. In surrendering to the winding path, walkers find peace and healing. To walk the path is know and trust that there is guidance to help us live our lives on this planet and in community. The labyrinth is a container in which the creative imagination can align with our heart. It is a place where we can experience - both playfully and profoundly - the soulâs desire and a movement towards it.
There are three stages of the walk:
First, releasing the details of your life. This is an act of shedding thoughts and emotions. It quiets and empties the mind.
Then, receiving insights and discernment; for many people this occurs upon reaching the center. Stay there as long as you would like. It is a place of meditation and prayer.
Finally, returning, with new understanding, to the world. Each time you walk the labyrinth you become more empowered to find and do the work you feel your soul is reaching for.
Guidelines for the Walk
Clear your mind and become aware of your breath. Breath in and out slowly. You may want to repeat a word or phrase as you walk. It helps distract the restless mind.
Allow yourself to find the pace your body wants to go. You may "pass" people or let others step around you, whichever is easier.
The path is two ways; those going in will meet those coming out. Some will be walking faster or slower than you. Do what feels natural to you. Don't worry about staying exactly within the lines of the path, but be aware of the path. If you lose track of the direction you are going, just start over again.
(The text from this page has been adapted from “Walking a Sacred Path," by Lauren Artess and from the website of The First Congregational United Church of Christ in Elyria, Ohio)