Shelton Congregational Church Endowment Fund
Est. 2012 as a preference fund to continue the legacy of service of the Shelton Congregational Church.
In 1708, seven ministers met in Saybrook, CT to form a regional association of Congregational churches. The First Congregational Church of Derby had been organized even earlier (in 1677), and a second church, known as Birmingham Congregational evolved from it in 1846. In 1892, yet another evolution occurred when seven men and women from Birmingham Congregational established the Shelton Congregational Church (SCC) at 269 Coram Avenue. With limited transportation available, the new congregation sought a place of worship that was easily accessed from downtown Shelton. The space chosen was not only convenient for Shelton residents, but for people living throughout the five town Valley area.
For 118 years, church members had lived, worked, and raised their families in the Valley. However, over its last 20 years, the Church was experiencing a steady decline in membership. And as the building itself became in need of significant, costly repairs, the congregation began to explore its available options. When it became evident that keeping the Church open and active was beyond their capabilities, the remaining question was this: What would next steps look like?
Church member Sue Nofi-Bendici had applied for grants from the Valley Community Foundation, and also knew its former Board Chair Greg Stamos. "I knew that when Greg's original family church (the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church of Ansonia) closed its doors, they established a charitable fund in its honor at VCF, and I thought that was such a meaningful way for a church to live on," said Sue. At her suggestion, the Shelton congregation began to research where it could best put the balance of the church's funding - focusing specifically where it could do the most good. As discussions progressed, church members recognized names of VCF Board members with whom they were familiar. When the final decision was made, it was unanimous - to create the Shelton Congregational Church Endowment Fund at the Valley Community Foundation.
"We really did our homework," said Church Clerk Betty Ogden, "We gave everyone the opportunity to ask questions and provide input. Not 30 meetings later we realized that creating this Fund with VCF was the best option for us. Before that, one of the biggest concerns had been that if we donated our Funds to other organizations, the Shelton Congregational Church name would disappear. We really wanted to just write one check, and to honor our church at the same time. VCF is a local philanthropy with an excellent reputation. This was a great opportunity for us to create an Endowment Fund and have the SCC continue to be a presence in the Valley. Our goal was to establish a platform that will continue the legacy of service that the SCC created during its 100 plus years as a community of faith."
The membership of the SCC consisted of people from all throughout the Valley - a spiritual community with a strong aspiration for community service. "The Valley is a unique collection of communities that share a similar geographic and cultural heritage," said Betty. "Our congregation has a broad sense of connection that encourages residents to work across town boundaries for the betterment of the wider community. This Fund will support those in need - from Valley Food Banks, to Elder Services, to Youth Education. By doing this, the spirit of the Church will live on, and our SCC community will forever remain intact."