GREENFIELD — Stretched.
That’s the word Tom Bloodgood uses to describe First Presbyterian Church’s situation.
With Sunday morning attendance often numbering in the teens or twenties, it’s challenging for the congregation at 116 W. South St. to keep going. But it wants to, with help.
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First Presbyterian Church has a history spanning to the 1850s. Now, its leaders are looking for help as they envision their next chapter. That could take the form of another group that wants to rent the space for a meeting or activity, which would help offset costs, leaders said.
The church is inviting community stakeholders and representatives of business and service organizations to a discussion about the church’s future from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Sunday in the sanctuary of the church, 116 W. South St.
Even as some members have moved away or died, the church has continued to serve the community. Church leaders recently offered the site as a place Salvation Army-trained volunteers can staff as a warming center when nighttime temperatures dip below 20 degrees. The congregation’s annual Strawberry Festival has raised money for local charities for more than 30 years.
“Our congregation has served the community in many ways over the years. … We need some assistance, community perspective and ideas on how our church building can serve the greater community going forward,” the Rev. Ann Noland, the church’s pastor, said in a news release issued by the church. “We look forward to hosting you and hearing ideas from the wider community.”
Bloodgood, a member of the church, said the church is looking for someone who’d like to rent space for a class or activity. The financial support would help, and having people come in and out of the building for an activity might make it easier to stop by for worship on Sunday morning.
Anglican Church of the Holy Spirit began having its services in the building about three years ago and paid rent to First Presbyterian, but the Anglican church has since closed.
“What we as a church are looking for is any kind of partnership out in the community that would strengthen our church. First Presbyterian has a challenge there in trying to build our membership and activities,” Bloodgood said. “We’re stretched for attendance, we’re stretched for membership, and we’re stretched for financial support.”
The church began in 1855 and has met at its present building since 1906, renovating and rededicating the building for its centennial in 2006.
Since 1984, the church has sponsored the annual Strawberry Festival, baking more than 30 batches of shortcake and serving it with strawberries and ice cream each June. Ticket sales for the festival have raised money for local charities, with organizers estimating that $50,000 to $75,000 has been given away since the festival’s inception.
Before the 2016 festival, an organizer admitted the jobs are spread among fewer people these days but said the church was still managing.
A corned beef and cabbage lunch also will be served at noon Sunday in the fellowship hall. Call 765-606-1599 to make a reservation for lunch or to ask questions about the gathering.