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Fund established and interfaith service set up for Macedonia Church

Date: 11/17/2008

By Casey Poisson

Special to Reminder Publications

SPRINGFIELD Western New England College (WNEC) hosted a gathering of Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders last Wednesday to show their support for the congregation of the Macedonia Church of God in Christ, whose place of worship, which was currently under construction, was a target of arson on Nov. 5.

Macedonia Church Bishop Bryant Robinson, the church's attorney Bradford Martin and Rabbi Jerome Gurland, cultural liaison coordinator and lecturer for WNEC's Campus Ministry led the meeting, during which both religious and community leaders spoke about what happened and what steps will be taken moving forward.

"It was a shot like Joe Louis to the solar plexus," Robinson said of the church's burning. "We were so close, I could taste it [the completed sanctuary]."

He noted, however, that the project is "delayed but not denied."

Martin said he has been receiving calls from around the country from people asking how they can help. The Macedonia Church Fund has been created and will be handled through Martin's office, Morrison Mahoney LLP.

The property was insured under a builder's risk policy, but the church is anticipating additional expenses that may not be covered, like the cost of demolition, material removal and time delays.

All donations should be made payable to Macedonia Church and sent to the Macedonia Church Fund c/o Morrison Mahoney LLP, 1500 Main St., Springfield, MA 01115.

Until work can begin again -- most likely not until spring, according to Martin -- the congregation will continue to worship at 201 King St.

To bolster the spirits of the Macedonia congregation, Rev. Georganne Greene of the Interfaith Council of Greater Springfield suggested hosting a Thanksgiving Eve interfaith service to let them know they're being supported in this tough time. Several of the community leaders present offered their services in setting up this event.

Gurland said they had talked about something like this before. Robinson added, "I would be amenable to such a coming together."

Michael Coelho of the Carriage House, the person in charge of booking events at Old First Chuch, said the space has been reserved on Nov. 26 from 6 to 9 p.m. The tentative time for the worship service is 7 p.m.