One of the things they realized quickly is that the church is, in fact, the people, not the building. Their experience of the Eucharist has been heightened as they come to see that ‘secular’ public space can, in fact, be sacred . . . Disestablishment has opened doors, sending these Episcopalians into the arms of the community and opening up their life along the way.
Our relationship to the Bishop, Diocesan Staff, and other Episcopal churches has strengthened over the years as a result of our transformation into a church “without a church”. The Rt. Rev. Dr. Douglas Fisher, who resides locally, is committed to diocesan support of our unfolding witness of God’s love for the world in our unique situation, especially among the Latino community. In addition, our lay and clergy have served on Standing Committee, Commission on Ministry, Social Justice Commission, Beloved Community Commission, Diocesan Council, and the Diocesan Committee on Congregational Vitality. One member of the parish has served as a deputy to General Convention since 2006. We are fully cognizant of the challenges facing The Episcopal Church in an increasingly secularized nation.
Read the stories of the two congregations that became Grace Church here.
We continue to look for opportunities to thin the boundaries between the Berkshire Episcopal churches. In addition to big projects like Bishop Curry’s revivals, we gather together in smaller multi-parish groups such as EfM and Sacred Ground. We share seasonal studies during Advent and Lent with two or more of the South County parishes, including one this year (2021) during Lent with Christ Trinity, Sheffield, and Hevreh of Southern Berkshire, a reformed synagogue in Great Barrington. Holy Week services are shared among Grace, Christ Trinity, St. Paul’s and Trinity, Lenox.
In addition to collaborating on a national event, Grace parishioners have traveled to Ghana with members and clergy of Christ Trinity Church, Sheffield, to work with the Mampong Babies’ Home. In 2019 two Grace parishioners traveled to the Holy Land with the Bishop and other clergy and lay people from both the Berkshires and the wider diocese. On Pentecost afternoon in 2019, all the Berkshire Episcopal Churches gathered at Zion Lutheran Church in Pittsfield to pack meal kits under the auspices of Rise Against Hunger.
In the lively Berkshire Deanery clericus you will find generous, collaborative colleagues who are able to accomplish a lot together in a relaxed, friendly way. Several clergy have retired to the Berkshires, including two in our own congregation, and there is a bi-vocational priest associate in nearby Stockbridge. Our interim rector retired from full time parish work in Kentucky a few years ago and has been working in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts as interim and supply from her home base in South Lee. Weekly lectionary study for south county Episcopal and UCC clergy met at historic First Congregational in Stockbridge pre-COVID. The meetings now continue on Zoom.