PITTSFIELD -- The South Congregational Church has stretched well beyond its $200,000 capital campaign goal to pay for improvements necessary to keep serving the social, economical and spiritual needs of the city.
During Sunday's service, campaign organizers announced the church's first major fundraiser in more than 20 years received $232,071 in contributions from dozens of the 200 church members, several groups who use the church facilities and others outside the community.
"Wow," said campaign co-chair John Robertson. "So much talent, drive and commitment from this congregation have made this a humbling experience."
The campaign officially kicked off five weeks ago, but buoyed by an initial 28 major gifts totaling $160,542, fundraising organizers were confident it could reach a secondary or "stretch" goal of $225,000.
"It isn't just about raising money, but about the spirit of helping our community," said church pastor The Rev. Joel Huntington.
Church leaders say the 165-year-old church and 80-year-old Parish House on South Street need significant upgrades that include roof and steeple repairs, an exterior paint job and a revamped kitchen that provides meals for weekly community dinners and other functions. The initial $200,000 will cover the to-do list, with the additional $32,000 going toward unexpected costs and establishing a maintenance fund.
"A church that doesn't plan for the future doesn't have a future," said campaign co-chair Mary Rentz, citing a comment made by one of the 100 campaign contributors.
The projects have been prioritized and will be done as the money comes in, according to church leaders.
The capital improvements are necessary if his congregation is to maintain and ex-
pand its mission in the future. Besides Sunday service and school, Huntington has noted nearly 20 church groups and community-based organizations regularly meet at South Congregational.
Church volunteers also provide on-going programs and services such as the weekly food pantry -- serving 400 families each week -- a thrift shop and partnership with Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity that benefit the entire city.
The planned upgrades are actually an extension of major improvements that began nearly two years ago, according to Robertson.
Thanks to a pair of memorial gifts totaling $160,000, 42 new storm windows were installed in the Parish House, the church parking lot and driveway were repaved and a modern-day walk-in refrigerator/\freezer was installed in the kitchen.
Rentz praised the congregation's overwhelming generosity of time, talent and treasure to keep the church a vital part of the community.
"We live in a church that is full of life," she said.
Anyone still wishing to contribute to the campaign can send a check made payable to: South Congregational Church Capital Campaign, 110 South St., Pittsfield, MA 01201.
To reach Dick Lindsay:
or (413) 496-6233
To-do list ...
The South Congregational Church capital campaign improvement list for the first $200,000 of the $232,071 raised to date :
- $61,000 -- Roof repairs
- $34,000 -- Parish House kitchen upgrade
- $30,000 -- Exterior painting
- $25,000 -- Steeple restoration
- $20,000 -- Mission outreach: food pantry, thrift shop, etc.
- $19,000 -- Update sanctuary sound and other systems.
n $11,000 -- Capital campaign expenses