After 115 years on the corner of Coram Avenue and Hill Street, (SCC) held its final worship service this past Sunday, April 29. The church building, established in 1894, and accompanying multi-family housing unit was sold to Grace Bible Church, Inc. for $240,000 late last week.
Reverend Shepard Parsons, who served as pastor since 2004, said the last service was emotional but uplifting.
"For the last three months, the services have all been pretty emotional, but Sunday was also a really joyful day. There is indeed sadness and grief but we are a people who do not grieve without hope," Parsons said. "I told folks: For 120 years, every Sunday after worship we’ve walked out the church doors into the future, and today is no different."
SCC had been part of the United Church of Christ, a reunited body of protestant churches including Congregational and Evangelical denominations. Rather than continue in another space, members voted to disband. A significant decline in membership over recent years spurred the decision.
"It was a long process that took over a year," Parsons said. "We were really examining who we are, who the community is and what our resources and liabilities are. Part of the decision was a result of the econony's downturn. When I came to the church, they were very frank about their economic situation."
Parsons said a number of members have moved on to join other churches, while some are still transitioning. "I don't think there is anyone who is done with religion completely; everyone is looking to find a new place to belong," he said.
Reflecting on the past eight years, Parsons said one standout moment during his time as pastor was when SCC declared themselves to be an opening and affirming congregation, welcoming lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered members into the community.
To me that was just an amazing moment," Parsons said. "We were met with some hostility in the community, we received some nasty mail, and a particular congregation said they didn't want anything to do with us -- but it was important for us to make that move and let the world know where we stand."
Former parishioners still looking for a church in Shelton or surrounding towns can visit The Electronic Valley website for information about religious groups.
, a Christian denomination formerly located at 549 Howe Ave., has already started moving into the building. Rich Lynn will serve as pastor, with worship services held daily at 10 a.m., prayer and bible study Thursdays at 7 p.m.