A Brief Church History
Feeding Hills Congregational Church is the oldest religious institution in the community, its founding going back to the establishment of Feeding Hills as the sixth parish of Springfield. The church called its first settled pastor, the Rev. Sylvanus Griswold, on November 10, 1762. Mr. Griswold continued as pastor through the Revolutionary War years and through numerous ups and downs, both religious and financial, until his death in 1819.
The current meeting house dates to 1835, with numerous modifications and additions to the facilities over the years. Life-long member Naida King (1907-2006), remembered when North Westfield Street was still a dirt road, horse-drawn sleighs provided transportation during the winter, and the sanctuary was heated by a coal-burning pot-belly stove. The community has changed greatly over the last century and the congregation along with it.
Like many small congregations, the church has had its share of conflicts and renewals. What has seemed to calm the waters has been a series of lengthy and intensive all church conversations over the last twenty-five years. A Conflict Mediation process in 1996, the Open and Affirming process culminating in 2005, and the Crossroads Project starting in 2015 have led to stability marked by open communication, two marks of a healthy church.
At the age of 255, the congregation is characterized by a variety of ministries and initiatives, from Bible study and worship to a developing outreach to LGBTQ teens to ongoing partnership with West Springfield’s Parish Cupboard, a deeper connection to the Massachusetts Conference United Church of Christ, and even a Monday evening yoga class. The times do change. What remains the same is our presence as a witness to Christ’s love in Feeding Hills and beyond.