To begin with I would like to thank everyone for giving me the opportunity stand before you and share with you all how The Congregational Church has impacted myself, family and community.
My husband and I have lived in Waterbury for 8 years. During that time we have not be avid church goers as it has logistically not worked out with our schedule. We immediately fell in love with the look of the Church and then later the belief and community of the Church. We would often come to Church on High Holidays and a few other times during the year. Then, we began coming more often after our second child was born. I was looking for support and peace within the community as my husband worked long hours during the weekends. This quickly ended as my eldest was unable to be separated from me.
Then 14 months ago, we were again reunited with the Church when a firefighter came to our home, and told us we had an hour to leave or we would be stranded, due to Tropical Storm Irene. That was when we turned to the Church for a place to stay for the night. Although we did not end up staying the night at the Church, it would again come to our rescue.
Fast forward a week after Irene and cleaning our mudified home and thinking of returning back to work. For those of you who do not know me I have a Registered Home Childcare here in Waterbury. I quickly learned that my home was not in compliance with the guidelines to provide child care after the flood and I needed to find an alternative solution. For two weeks I moved my business to a friend’s home until I could either fix my home or find a more permanent space suitable for eight small children. I knew this was going to be difficult as there were other childcare programs in the area that were also looking for alternative space. After speaking with them, and learning that some of them were looking to the Churches for help I immediately remembered the sweet space held for the children during Church services. Knowing the other programs were larger than mine and the space would be too small for them I went straight to Peter and asked if those other programs decided to not use the space then I would be interested. He assured me that he would contact me asap.
I was so grateful when I received a phone call from Peter stating that the daycare space was mine if I still wanted it. After the State inspected the space and gave me a variance to use the space for work I was eager to begin moving in! I quickly gave the daycare a facelift moving in toys and supplies, making it my classroom, for which I have been so thankful for. During our 10 months at the Church we became the front face of the Church, as we were so close to the entrance. Folks frequently popped their heads into the classroom to say Hello or ask for directions, or looking for the office. It was a pleasure to see so many faces!
I was truly amazed at how well used the Congregational Church was. It seemed that everyday something was happening at the Church! Mondays were the quietest days as the office was usually closed, but that didn’t stop folks from coming and seeking assistances, requesting space to hold a meeting, training or my favorite a musical rehearsal
Tuesdays –Fridays tutoring occurred,
Wednesdays- CSA Share drop off and pick up and Wic came to use the church,
Thursdays – were the days the children all looked forward to as the Ladies met for their social group and luncheon, which we were often invited to and they would read to the children!
Fridays- seemed to be the day of meetings.
This is all just what I saw during my scheduled business hours. This doesn’t even include the meeting that occurred after I left such as the AA meeting, musical recitals and many other activities.
Throughout my time at the Congregational Church I learned that the Church was not only a place to worship and find peace, but it is an instrumental piece in our community! Some days I found myself closing my classroom door as the church was so well used that it was difficult to “play and work.” It was always so refreshing to see the faces and see the church alive! The children in my care also learned a value to being at the church. They learned about another safe place to go in their community, they also had the privilege of having many wonderful experiences with some terrific folks in our community. This happened by our many luncheon invitations, being read to by several “Grandmothers” and above all seeing how our community takes care of each other! We would often have discussions about where we might be or not be if we didn’t have the Church as our “new” school and how lucky we were to have a warm safe place to have a beautiful classroom while our old was being fixed. Even today the children point out and look for the Church on our walks and say I miss our old classroom at the church! This warms my heart as they too have felt the power of love, community and strength that we received from the church.
Over the years I believe Churches are forgotten as folks have too much to do and not enough time. We as people are over extended and sometimes having one more commitment seems to put us over the top. But during disastrous, difficult times people remember “Church” as I did. It is a constant unconditional love that you know will always be there with open doors during times of despair. I am not sure where I would be, my family. And the 10 families I serve if the Congregational Church was not around to have taken us in. This Church saved my business, my home, my family, and my emotional well being just by allowing me to use their space. Church has a trickle effect in so many communities and ours is no different as it has been demonstrated repeatedly. Even though my business in back in my home I am reminded of the church every day! The Congregational Church has so graciously lent me a table and chairs for my classroom. Every day 7-12 little bodies take pleasure in sitting in small chairs suitable for them and at a table where they can eat, draw, and learn!
Church is so much more than a place to worship the lord, it is a place to love your neighbor, and watch a community bloom! Thank you!