Written by Anthony Moujaes
Weary travelers on mission trips in the Massachusetts area have always been welcome at Wollaston Congregational Church, UCC, in Quincy. But this summer, the stop at the 100-year-old Parish House has been made a lot more welcoming, with the addition of shower facilities.
Each year the church sees a steady flow of volunteers stopping in to rest and recharge—six groups on service projects so far this season. The recent renovation, which included three new shower stalls, makes Wollaston more hospitable for those who travel to Quincy, Mass. for mission work during a hot summer.
The church hospitality includes the use of air mattresses, the church kitchen, and a large screen television. Though the church describes the trips as successful and visitors have been enthusiastic about returning, there has always been one major problem: a shower was a train ride and then a walk away to the Quincy YMCA, which can be hot and tiring in the summer, and sometimes expensive.
Peter Johnston, Wollaston's Minster of Music, led the church through an experiment in hospitality, deciding in 2011 to install new showers in its stone Parish House, constructed in 1915. After a feasibility study and architectural plans, the project, "Showers of Blessing," required an estimated $10,000 to install three shower stalls, each with a private changing area.
With that goal in mind, Peter and the church began a grassroots fundraising campaign, asking mission committees of local churches and the youth groups who stayed at Wollaston UCC previously, to contribute money for labor and supplies.
"Having the showers in place guarantees that the church and City Mission Society can adequately host large groups, which can then go out into the community and do good works," Johnston said.
In May of 2012, a youth group from Centre Congregational Church, UCC, in Meriden, Conn., broke through the walls of an old office and storage area in the Parish House, and a contractor and plumber began work on the showers. When they finished, a group from Kansas laid the ceramic floor and painted the shower room walls using donated materials and volunteer labor to complete the project.
In the first two weeks of operation, Wollaston hosted a group of eight from First Federated Church of South Berwick, Maine, for two nights; a group of 15 from Shenkel and Pottstown, Penn., for seven nights; and a group of 20 from Mystic Congregational Church, UCC, in Mystic, Conn., for five nights.
Combined, these volunteers reached thousands of lives through their service projects.
The City Mission Society, which works with the Boston Urban Outreach program, brings groups from across the country for mission work at local organizations such as Pilgrim Church Shelter, Cradles for Crayons, Quincy Crisis Center, the Prison Book Program, the Long Island Shelter, and other agencies.
June Cooper, the executive director of the City Mission Society, said her organization is grateful to the congregation for taking care of participants in Boston Urban Outreach (BUO) programs. "The addition of the new showers at the church enhance our partnership and will be welcomed by BUO participants," she said. "We can accomplish so much more working together than we can alone."
For information on using the space at Wollaston, contact Johnston at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call the church office at 617-773-7432. To inquire about City Mission Society's Boston Urban Outreach Programs, contact Carl McDonald via email at email@example.com, or by phone at 617-742-6830, ext. 10.