BRONXVILLE N.Y. — A church that has celebrated its policy of inclusion through the years by ordaining a woman in 1956 and an openly gay man in 1972, and recently conducting a same-sex marriage, is now set to celebrate its 100th year in Bronxville.
West Center Congregational Church UCC, located at 101 Pondfield Road West, will mark its 100th anniversary of the formation of the West Center Sunday School this Sunday.
While many churches in the area might been around as long as West Center Church, probably none have had the same beginning, said the church's senior minister, the Rev. John Barrett.
"We've always been known as an independent voice, and have always been ahead of our time," said Barrett. "Since we are comprised of a small group, we have always been able to do things that couldn't have possible otherwise. I guess we've just become known for being a warm and friendly place."
West Center Congregational Church began as a Sunday school in 1912. In 1920, it merged with the Reformed Church of Bronxville and became the West Center Branch of the Reformed Church. Soon after that, people decided they wanted to have their own separate church, and, in 1927, the West Center Church was organized and affiliated with the Congregational denomination.
The church now has a Bronxville post office box, but is technically located in Yonkers, a contradiction that is warmly welcomed, said Barrett.
"It's so nice to be part of both communities, and to have a foot in each camp," said Barrett. "We have people in their 80s, people in their 20s and some in the middle, too. We really are such a diverse church, economically, racially and with people's sexual identity. We tend not to ask as a lot of questions that tend to categorize people, like where do you live, are you married and do you have a child."
People should come to our church if they are seeking who is Jesus without being told how to do so, said Barrett.
"There are a lot of people who define themselves as spiritual, but not really religious, and we would like to tap into those people," said Barrett. "If you're spiritual, but not religious, and are seeking something more in your life, check us out. You just might be inspirited on your journey with people who, as you, don't always have all the answers.
"Sunday's celebration is important because it reminds us to continue to uphold our mission to serve any person who wants guidance," he said.
The celebratory service for West Center Church will begin at 11 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 28, with a lunch following at 12:30 p.m. For more information call (914) 337-3829.