Editorial: Church’s bicentennial a worthy cause for celebration

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Here are some brief thoughts on some of the events making news from around Franklin County and the North Quabbin area:

Greenfield’s Second Congregational Church doesn’t have to play second fiddle to anyone. It welcomed parishioners long before the Civil War, served as a makeshift gymnasium before the town had a YMCA and continues to host events like the dinosaur and bee festivals.

With its 200-year-old history, it’s no mystery how the church earned its nickname, “The Uncommon Church on the Common.”

The church has attracted some of the town’s most famed residents over the centuries — including Dexter Marsh, a sexton who discovered what are considered to be the first fossilized dinosaur footprints to be systematically studied by a scientist, and the Rev. Lorenzo Langstroth, the father of American beekeeping.

Originally a brick structure, the first church was razed in 1868 and the current Gothic-Revival church was constructed. Today, this house of worship also hosts community meals, concerts and forums, and groups including Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous meet there weekly.

This past weekend, the church celebrated its bicentennial with a weekend of festivities, including a special service, commemorative book sale and children’s activities. It’s been noted correctly that 200 years is a milestone many churches never meet.

Teaching respect for our world

You can’t start too early teaching children the right thing to do, and certainly 11 years old is a great time to get children actively involved in respecting our environment, starting in their back yard. For the third year this past Friday, Greenfield Middle School fifth-graders volunteered in the Green River Cleanup. It was a chance to learn first hand what it means to deal with litter and about what it means to be a part of a larger community.

About 130 students were scheduled to head to different sites along the river to clean up trash that has accumulated over the past year. Some will go to the Eunice Williams Covered Bridge, where the accumulation of trash left by visitors this summer has stirred complaints in the community. So what are the students learning? Eleven-year-old Dylan French told the Recorder that the cleanup brought to life a big issue. “If people don’t clean up the rivers, water will not be a beautiful sight.” We hope as a result of this school project, all of Dylan’s classmates will find themselves more mindful of the importance of caring for the river and our environment at large.

Club Cafe’s service

Tucked away in the John W. Olver Transit Center, the Club Cafe is celebrating its third anniversary of providing two kinds of service. Run by social service agency Clinical and Support Options, it sells breakfast and lunch sandwiches and Pierce Brothers coffee at fair prices to bus and train travelers and nearby office workers. But it also serves as a place for mental health clients of CSO to gain work experience.

Tom Kane has been helping run the cafe for a majority of the years it has been open.

“It just gives me a focus,” Kane, who lives at the Greenfield-based Green River House, explained recently. “The folks coming in are really friendly. You feel like a part of the community … It’s been good for me transitioning back to working. Club Cafe has made it easy to come back.”

So, let’s hope the cafe remains part of the community.

Trails for everyone

Northfield is adding to the ways everyone can enjoy the pleasures of nature. Of late, volunteers have been working on the Alderbrook Meadows Sanctuary’s gravel trail to make it fully accessible.

Along the path, you can find a beaver pond covered in lily pads, the water glistening in the morning sun.

Northfield Open Space Committee and Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust have been working on the half-mile loop of public trail donated by Bill and Nancy Ames, to make such views fully accessible, the first such trail in town.

Mount Grace has been planning the trail for about three years, but the benefits — for walkers, parents with strollers and those who use wheelchairs or walkers — will last much longer.

Donations stock YMCA’s ‘free store’

In 2008, after a Chapman Street apartment fire left 21 people homeless, the Greenfield YMCA called on its members to donate gently used, clean clothing for a “Free Store” that would help those who had lost everything in the fire. Since then, that act of charity has been repeated each year by the Y’s members. Next month, the ninth annual “Free Store” will take place in the Greenfield Y’s gymnasium. Last year, more than 600 people came through, according to Jayne Trosin, the Y’s fitness director. She said the line stretched from the Y to Brad’s Place on Main Street.

The Y is inviting anyone with good, used clothing to bring their donation to 451 Main St., beginning today. Volunteers are requested to sort, fold and hang clothing on Oct. 2 and 3 — the two days before the store opens. Please consider helping out this worthy cause.