We believe God is calling us to cultivate a community of love, joy, hope, and healing. Jesus is our model for a life of faith, compassion, hospitality, and service. We strive to be affirming and accessible, welcoming and inclusive; we seek to promote reconciliation, exercise responsible stewardship, and embrace ancient traditions for modern lives.
St. James and St. Andrew’s have existed as “sister churches” across the river from one another since the founding of St. Andrew’s in 1921, St. James’ having providing Episcopal worship and ministry in Franklin County since 1812. During our almost-century of relationship the parishes have collaborated in various ways, including sharing clergy leadership in the early years after St. Andrew’s founding and in the latter decades of the 20th century.
The changing landscape of church membership and ministry impacted both congregations. Our increasing sense of clarity in our call to outreach and service in the Greenfield and Turners Falls communities coincided with decreasing resources available for those ministries in terms of membership numbers, participation, and financial support. In the fall of 2016 we began explicit conversation about the possibility of merger, understanding that combining the gifts, strengths, traditions and resources of the two congregations (including human faithfulness, energy, and creativity as well as material and financial assets) had the potential to result in a faith community that is stronger and more dynamic than the sum of the parts.
As exploratory conversations took place, it was quickly evident to both the leadership and members of St. James and St. Andrew’s that what we had to gain in merging our two parishes represented much more than we would lose in coming together. In March of 2017 the members and Vestries of both congregations voted to merge, situating the new parish in the Greenfield campus previously occupied by St. James, and putting the St. Andrew’s property up for sale. Even as we acknowledged the deep loss that many felt both in surrendering a beloved sanctuary and in letting go of familiar ways of doing things as we integrated the practices of the two congregations, we believe that God is at work in our midst; we have felt a new sense of purpose, excitement, and enthusiasm as “things which had grown old are being made new”.
History of St. James Church
The Church of Saint James was organized in Greenfield, Massachusetts in the fall of 1812 by a small, but faithful group of Episcopalians that met in private homes. In May of 1813, they purchased the land that our church now sits upon and within a few days the cornerstone of the church was laid. They built a wooden church that served as their home for thirty-three years. The building became in desperate need of repairs, and they decided to sell their building to the Methodist Church just down the street. In its place, they built a new stone church that was consecrated in 1849. Over the years we have grown as a parish, which has allowed us to expand our campus and our ministries. We have a long history of engaging in the work of social justice, especially through ministries that address hunger in the greater community. In 2013, we celebrated our bicentennial and have begun a new and exciting time in our parish life as we look to the future.
History of St. Andrew's Church
Our forebears first began meeting for worship in their homes as early as 1872. A young priest, the Rev. George Burgess, was appointed county missionary in 1915. He felt the Turners Falls Episcopalians, who had worshipped in various temporary settings through the years, should begin a building fund. It was through his efforts that land at the corner of L and Seventh Streets was deeded to the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts by the Crocker Family of Fitchburg. The building of the new church involved considerable participation by members, with the men of the parish digging the foundation with their own shovels and pickaxes; on November 30, 1921, the Rev. Stockwell and the Rev. John B. Whiteman, Rector of St. James in Greenfield, conducted the first service in the new church, despite shavings that littered the floor. The church remained a mission of the Diocese for nearly 87 years, until May 13, 2008, when it became a full parish within the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts. St. Andrew’s remained a small and intimate community beloved by its members throughout the decades, characterized by involvement with and service in response to the needs of the Montague community.
The Episcopal Church
Our church is a part of the Diocese of Western Massachusetts and a member of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America. The Episcopal Church is the American province of the Anglican Communion, a worldwide body of over 70 million Christians who trace their origins to the Church of England. The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ. Often, The Episcopal Church is called a “bridge church” between Roman Catholicism and other Protestant denominations. This is because much Episcopal theology is Protestant in nature, while much of Episcopal worship, spiritual practice, and church structure resemble Catholicism. As a result, individuals and families from a variety of backgrounds will find in the Episcopal Church a home that honors their own faith tradition while providing a new source of shared nourishment. Newcomers will find a diverse faith community that welcomes questions and discussion.
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