Blooming Grove church receives $3,500 sacred sites grant

Jul 30 2012 | 04:41 AM

BLOOMING GROVE — The Blooming Grove United Church of Christ in Orange County is among 23 historic religious properties throughout New York State that have been awarded Sacred Sites grants totaling $294,500 by the New York Landmarks Conservancy. “You don’t have to be religious to understand that religious institutions contain some of our finest art and architecture,” Peg Breen, president of the New York Landmarks Conservancy, said in the press release announcing the grant. “Many also provide vital social service programs and cultural activities that make significant contributions to their communities.” Blooming Grove United Church of Christ is located at 8 Old Dominion Road and was pledged a $3,500 grant toward installation of a French drain at the foundation perimeter. “This is part of recovery from severe flooding brought by Hurricane Irene in 2011,” Breen said. “The improved drainage will prevent future water damage to the foundation and basement.”

History Blooming Grove United Church of Christ, founded in 1758, is an austere, rectangular, wood frame, gable roofed meeting house with wood shingle siding and arched, double-hung, multi-light windows, many retaining the original hand-blown glass. Upon completion in 1824, the structural design, which allowed for no interior columns, distinguished the church as the largest clear-span interior in Orange County. Behind the pulpit is a gallery, thought to have been a slave gallery, where free people of color remained segregated after 1827 New York State emancipation, men on one side and women on the other. The central window at the east side elevation was replaced in 1919 with a stained glass World War I memorial window, with a dedication ceremony attended by the governor.

Today The congregation is an active community center. Continuing the musical tradition of the original choir, the church hosts the regional Classical Choral Society, with 75 members. The group has developed a reputation for great choral works, either a cappella or accompanied by a full orchestra, and holds several concerts at the church annually. The current pastor, the Rev. Dr. Lise Worthington, established the Graze on Faith program, a winter Hudson Valley food share initiative designed to educate and promote concepts of healthy, local eating by supporting Hudson Valley farmers and highlighting sustainable farming practices through seasonal Community Supported Agriculture. The church created a farmer’s market that grew into a state feeding program for 150 children and developed a frozen food bank along with schools and other churches, providing a frozen food pickup service in the congregation parking lot during the winter months. The congregation provided three community dinners this past winter as well as monthly food delivery to community members in need. The congregation hosts internships for seminary students, provides housing in the renovated manse, and provides space for Alcoholics Anonymous and Families Anonymous meetings. The chapel/education building is leased to a local day care center.

Find our more For more information about the church, visit www.bgucc.org. For more information about the New York Landmarks Conservancy, visit www.nylandmarks.org.