To the editor:
Three hundred years ago, a group of frugal New Englanders asked the town for land to build a new meeting house in what was then the center of West Gloucester.
According to colonial law in those days, everyone was required to attend lengthy Sunday church services in central Gloucester. This meant a 6-mile walk or a ferry ride that cost 1 cent per person and 2 cents per horse — far too much for thrifty West Gloucester residents.
In 1713, the new meeting house had been raised and services began.
Today, the church that they established, the West Gloucester Trinitarian Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, is planning to recognize 300 years of history, culminating on Sept. 15, 2013.
As it prepares a yearlong celebration, the church has welcomed a new settled pastor, the Rev. Michael Gelsomini. Rev. Gelsomini completed his studies at the Andover Newton Theological School where he received his Master of Divinity degree in 2010. He served as a student minister at the Union Congregational Church in North Reading and has been an associate pastor at the Main Street Congregational Church in Amesbury. Rev. Gelsomini has also worked as a manager for an electronics firm and as an auxiliary policeman.
Rev. Gelsomini, who is affectionately called “Mike” by church members, is excited to be part of the 300th anniversary celebration. He said it became clear to him that this congregation cares deeply for others and wants to be a part of the community around it. As one way of reaching out to our neighbors, we have been hosting a series of free dinners on the second Wednesday of every month with 20 to 30 people attending. As the word spreads, the church hopes that more people will come and get a feel for its hospitality.
Every Sunday, the Rev. Gelsomini says no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.
For the anniversary, an updated church history will be published; the original site was reclaimed as part of an Eagle Scout project by Dustin McComiskey; there will be presentation of pictures of people in the church throughout the past years, and next month a luncheon will be held in honor of the elders of the West Parish community.
West Gloucester Trinitarian Congregational Church,
488 Essex Ave., Gloucester