Over the years the members of Wilson Congregational Church in Windsor, Conn have supported Church World Service programs with Blankets+ offerings, CROP Hunger Walks and other support.
But their final gift might be the most meaningful.
The congregation’s $175,000 gift to CWS came from the sale of their church building, a final act of philanthropy at the end of years of service to CWS.
Church members realized that they could no longer keep the building because of dwindling membership and some major repairs that needed to be done. Though some young people with children remained in the church, former member Joanne Coghill says wryly, “My husband and I just turned 70 this year, but were still called the ‘young ones’.”
Like large oaks that drop their acorns to grow other trees elsewhere, the members of Wilson Congregational are spreading their mission-mindedness to other churches. Most of them are now attending First Church in Windsor, which has a much larger congregation, with many younger members and roots stretching back to the 1600s. Joanne says the Wilson members are slowly becoming active in the “new” church, which, she explains, has also sponsored refugees.
And though Joanne agrees with the oak analogy, she likes to think of grains of wheat that fall to the ground. “Unless you’re willing to die, you can’t bring forth new fruit,” she says.
Even with the dissolution of the church, their faithfulness continues. In selling the church, the congregation decided to disperse the money to local, regional and global non-profit organizations. Since the Wilson church had such a long, fulfilling relationship with CWS, Coghill said members decided that the global portion of their contribution would go to Church World Service to be used where most needed.
“What a sacrificial gift in which an ending for some means a future for so many others,” says Kathy Burton, of the CWS New England Regional Office.