Continuing my exploration of the churches in the South Wedge neighborhood, I visited the South Wedge Mission (SWM) for the first time during their Christmas Eve Service. I felt like I discovered a hidden gem in the community. It was a beautiful event featuring the story of the Eucharist and the congregation singing “Silent Night” by candle-light. The church was traditionally decorated with holiday lights and a Christmas tree; food and refreshments rounded off the evening. A predominate theme in this church is the celebration of the richness and beauty found in the diversity of people. This results in an environment that is very welcoming and enjoyable.
Pastor Mathew Nickoloff is passionate about bringing spirituality to the community. He is an ordained missionary in the Evangelical Lutheran Church, but members of any faith are welcome. He started SWM three years ago and has worked to help his congregation create a commitment to faith. Much like regular physical exercise promotes a healthy body, he feels that you can be more spiritual through regular practice. Faith will augment and amplify life and allow people to grow and succeed. Services are very music-oriented, with the whole congregation singing together to produce passion through beautiful music.
A major goal of Pastor Matt is for SWM to become a patron of the arts for the community. There are a number of diverse events and activities that encourage everyone to enjoy the church, whether or not they are a member of the congregation. The “Live at Mission Hall – Free Concert Series” brings local and touring musicians to SWM and is free for all to attend. Pastor Matt is a talented musician himself and is instrumental in coordinating the series with the help of two others. Along with music, SWM also brings theater. The Kingfisher Theatre Troupe will be doing a three week run of their latest production. They are a non-profit organization that performs modern adaptations of classic works of drama.
Another example of the diversity found there is in the Midweek Mindfulness group. This is a group of neighborhood people who are into meditation and contemplative spirituality. They call it an “inter-practice” community rather than “inter-faith.” They are mostly non-members of the church, but are a diverse group of many faiths united in their common practice. They get together Wednesday nights from 8 to 9 at SWM.
The Rochester Free Store is another benefit to the community that is located at SWM. They accept your donations of clothing and household items then give them to people in need, free of charge. This is run by Jasmin, who works very hard to make this successful. The Rochester Free Store accepts donations on Wednesdays 10:30am -12pm and 4:30pm – 6pm. The store is open for people to shop free of charge on the third Saturday of each month from 3:30pm -5pm.
For more information about South Wedge Mission and any of the activities, Pastor Matt can be reached by email at: [email protected] or use the website http://southwedgemission.org/get-involved/. Also look for them on Facebook for upcoming events and times.