This is a virtual copy of a fundraising letter written by Priscilla Ross on behalf of Florence Congregational Church (FCC). It is being sent out this week to various members of the community in Florence, MA.
June 24, 2020
I am writing with a heavy heart, and with a plea.
Last summer, I learned that the Florence Congregational Church was going to be sold to another organization and that it was going to lose its home. Not only the Church, but all of the vital community groups that have gathered there for generations would lose their home including Beit Ahavah, the reform Jewish community that has worshipped there for over 20 years would too. I couldn’t believe this could happen.
I went home and re-read Charles A. Sheffield’s History of Florence Massachusetts. I was reminded of the rich history of this Village, and of FCC’s role in that history. I thought about the generations of families who have gathered in fellowship, to worship, celebrate, and mourn there. I drove by again and again, and took in the beauty of the building itself.
There must be a way, I thought, to not only preserve this structure, but to share its story, and its significant part in the creation of this little Village founded by abolitionists, innovators, creatives, and faithfuls.
The Church, in its commitment to the community in which it has been embedded for over 150 years, took a risk. They canceled discussions with the other organization and entered into discussion with a small group of people who wanted to figure out a way. This group was instigated and led by me.
Over the course of several months, plans were made to form a non-profit organization, start a capital campaign, and purchase the church. Our purpose (from our Articles of Incorporation): to purchase, maintain, preserve, and manage the building at 130 Pine Street, Florence, MA, for the purpose of providing a community space and meeting house for cultural, artistic, and spiritual exploration and growth. To provide opportunities for the public to learn about, celebrate, and further develop the role of the village of Florence, Massachusetts, as a community that encourages and welcomes artistic, cultural, and spiritual diversity.
Things were well underway. And then….COVID-19.
To explain the next phase would take too many words. Suffice it to say because of my work in healthcare, I was unable to do the work that was needed. It is several months later, and I regrettably say that this project is not one that is realistic to take on in our current state.
Sadly, I have notified the Church that I can no longer be part of this plan. However, I still feel committed to helping the Church find its best possible owner and landlord. My idea set them back a year. A year of continued financial struggles and a huge worry about making it through this next winter.
They need time and they need us. Their community, their families, their members. They need time so they can make a decision that will best serve the Church, and the Community. They need $50,000 to give them the breath and the space they need to make the best decision they can.
Your donation will give them the time they need to ensure that whomever takes ownership of the building will find value in the Community they have built over 150 years and they will still have a home along with Cloverdale, Beit Ahavah, AA, Children’s Chorus, Al-Anon, Open Door Club, and other community groups.
Please, consider a gift today, so that the Church can work through the ravages of COVID-19 while trying to find the best match for them, and for the community.
Very truly yours,
Priscilla M. Ross