Trinity United Methodist Church, Springfield, Massachusetts

With roots dating back to 1791, Trinity United Methodist Church in Springfield, Massachusetts considers itself a “Community Cathedral” dedicated to worship, learning and recreation. Completed in 1929, its current structure is built in the Gothic Revival style, designed by Boston firm Allen and Collens. The Church takes great pride in its stained glass windows, which are designed by Wilbur Herbert Burnham (1887-1974) of Boston. Of particular note is the Rose Window, located at the rear of the nave, presenting Burnham’s interpretation of Psalm 150, which encourages people to rejoice in God with music and dance. At the center of the window, a cross and crown of Christ are depicted to symbolize victory through sacrifice. With this in mind, it is not surprising that the Church’s mission is to “celebrate God’s love, nurture relationships with God and one another, and serve our community and world as we share the light of Christ”.

Saint George Cathedral, Boston, Massachusetts

Organized in 1908, Saint George Cathedral is the first Albanian Orthodox Church in the United States and the largest Orthodox Christian house of worship in the state of Massachusetts. First established in response to the growing local Albanian community who began immigrating to the Boston area in 1886, its current structure was built in 1872 and designed by Boston architect Samuel J.F. Thayer in the Gothic Revival style to originally house the Second Hawes Congregational Church. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the building was obtained in 1949 by the Albanian Orthodox Archdiocese of the Orthodox Church in America. Now comprised of worshippers from diverse origins and backgrounds, the parish continues its mission to “address contemporary issues at home and in society to find personal salvation in the Living God”.

Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, Roxbury, Massachusetts

Founded in 2009, the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center is a mosque and community center located in the heart of Roxbury. Drawing over 1,500 worshipers from over 64 ethnicities for its Friday prayer services, the ISBCC’s mission is to teach and to live Islam in America. Under the leadership of its senior Imam, all of the mosque’s programming is executed through the prism of the “Four Prophetic Spheres” of Knowledge, Lived Spirituality, Community, and Service.

Cathedral of Saint Paul, Worcester, Massachusetts

Founded in 1869, the Cathedral of Saint Paul has served as the mother church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester since 1950, when the Diocese was established in the city. Its current grand structure, built in the Gothic Revival style, was designed by Elbridge Boyden & Son and completed in 1874. Important events within Saint Paul’s life are narrated within ten monumental stained glass windows located in the sanctuary and nave. The Cathedral of Saint Paul was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

First Unitarian Church, Worcester, Massachusetts

Gathered in 1785, the First Unitarian Church of Worcester, Massachusetts was formed by a group of 54 “free thinkers” who left Worcester-based First Parish Church under the leadership of their pastor, Dr. Aaron Bancroft, in a quest to celebrate freedom of belief and religious expression that would help define Unitarian doctrine in the United States. The Church’s current Federal style structure, built in 1850, was designed by Sidney Mason Stone and was inspired by the Center Church on-the-Green in New Haven, Connecticut. Following in the footsteps of its founders, the First Unitarian Church continues, “to preserve the freedom of each of us to determine for ourselves what we believe and how we should live. We are open to the wisdom of world religions. We welcome and honor diversity of belief, culture, lifestyle, and political view as a source of strength.”

Trinity Lutheran Church, Worcester, Massachusetts

Formed in 1948, Trinity Lutheran Church is the result of the merger of three nearby parishes: First Evangelical Lutheran Church (1881), Bethany Evangelical Lutheran Church (1900) and Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church (1921). Designed by architect and World War I pilot Jens Frederick Larson, Trinity’s structure is inspired by both New England’s traditional architecture and Scandinavian church design, as many of the founding parishioners were of Swedish descent. The sanctuary’s cream colored brick walls include Norman arches supported by limestone columns, allowing for 800 parishioners to be seated in the church’s oak pews at one time. Both natural light and Swedish designed chandeliers in the form of clustered leaves illuminate the nave of the sanctuary. While the flooring of the nave is made of slate from the Green Mountains of Vermont, the ceiling has 128 marvelously painted oak panels depicting both the Old and New Testament by artist Arthur Covey. With the architectural remnants from the congregation’s earlier houses of worship within the chancel of the sanctuary, it is only fitting that a plaque mounted on the church’s wall reads, “This church was erected to the Glory of God and in memory of those pioneers of the nineteenth century who here, sought a new home, bringing with them little, save their faith in God and their trust in America.”

St. John’s Catholic Church, Worcester, Massachusetts

Established in 1834, St. John’s Catholic Church is the oldest Catholic church in Worcester. Its current structure, designed by architect P.W. Ford in the Greek Revival style, was built in 1845 to house its 2,000 parishioners. Inside, however, the sanctuary is designed in the Romanesque Revival style with its notable simplified arches. The Church’s spiritual mission is “to combine the corporal and spiritual works of mercy and daily acts of charity for all”. Since its earliest days, St. John’s has reached out to serve the poor. With providing such programs as free meals to more than 1,000 people monthly, it is evident that the parishioners’ charge has not waned from its beginnings.

St. Mary’s Assumption Albanian Orthodox Church, Worcester, Massachusetts

In 1911, the Albanians of Worcester organized what is now known as St. Mary’s Assumption Albanian Orthodox Church. The church’s current Byzantine-style structure was completed in 1983 and designed by Andrew Isaak of the architectural firm Isaak & Isaak of Manchester, New Hampshire.  Throughout the gold-painted sanctuary are illuminated icon paintings by Worcester-based iconographer Dhimitri Cika. Images of Jesus Christ, Mary, archangels and saints as well as significant biblical events, such as the nativity and resurrection, engulf viewers as their eyes wander throughout the sanctuary. When looking up at the dome beyond the ornate chandelier, Christ, flanked by two angels, looks back down with the appearance of empathy and compassion—reinforcing the nature of Jesus’s calling, “to seek and save the lost”.

Old South Church, Boston, Massachusetts

The congregation of Old South Church in Boston was gathered in 1669 to serve all who seek a spiritual journey in Christian faith. Completed in 1875, the church’s highly ornate Gothic Revival Style is atypical of a traditional New England congregational church. While architects Charles Amos Cummings and Willard T. Sears‘ design intention was to, “radiate the opulent taste and the sense of optimism and progress of the Industrial Revolution following the Civil War”, the congregation has been recognized for equality and social justice, with such notable congregants as Samuel Sewall who published the first anti-slavery writing in the United States in 1700, The Selling of Joseph. As poet John Greenleaf Whittier eloquently wrote, ‘So long as Boston shall Boston be, And her bay tides rise and fall, Shall freedom stand in the Old South Church, And plead for the rights of all.”

Arlington Street Church, Boston, Massachusetts

Founded in 1729 as the “Church of the Presbyterian Strangers”, the Arlington Street Church is a Unitarian Universalist church, which draws from a variety of religious traditions. While the Unitarian Universalist congregations “tend to retain some Christian traditions, such as Sunday worship with a sermon and the singing of hymns. The extent to which the elements of any particular faith tradition are incorporated into personal spiritual practice is a matter of personal choice for congregants.”(1) Unitarian refers to the belief in one God.

In 1861, the church’s current structure was completed and was the first public building to be constructed on newly filled land in Boston’s Back Bay, sitting on 999 wooden pilings driven into the tidal mud. Architect Arthur Gilman drew inspiration for its exterior from London’s St. Martin-in-the-Fields and its basilica type interior from the Church of the Annunciation in Genoa, Italy. As part of the church’s mission, congregants gather “in love and service for justice and peace.”(2)

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unitarian_Universalism
2. http://www.ascboston.org/about/index.html