It was in 1980 that a group of committed business leaders and volunteers came together with representatives of what was then Westfield State College to establish a gathering place, which would serve all faiths and enhance the quality of the spiritual life of students and the greater community. In order to successfully raise funding for an interfaith center, they formed the Westfield State Foundation as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization through the IRS.
In May of 1981, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts voted to transfer the deed for a 70' by 90' piece of land on the campus green to the Foundation. Constructed by Heritage Homes Inc. of Westfield and funded through the generosity of 30 local businesses and community stakeholders, the Albert and Amelia Ferst Interfaith Center was dedicated the following year. Since its dedication in 1982, the Center has offered religious services, pastoral counseling and a variety of interfaith activities, administered by a dedicated staff of faith leaders. The Foundation has gone on to become an essential component of University life.
The mission of the Albert and Amelia Ferst Interfaith Center is to support religious and spiritual life and to promote interfaith understanding at Westfield State University. During the academic year, Center staff members provide and support opportunities for worship, meditation, spiritual exploration, religious learning, celebration, fellowship and service. In support of the University's mission to prepare students for life in the global community, the Center seeks to promote respect for and understanding of diverse religious traditions and to help students relate their moral and religious traditions to their personal choices and service to society.
Chaplains and Advisors at the Interfaith Center
Father Warren Savage, Director
Mass is offered at 11:00 a.m. every Sunday morning.
Reverend Barbara Hesse, UCC - Second Congregational Church
Sunday services are held at 10:00 a.m. at the UCC Second Congregational Church located at 487 Western Avenue, adjacent to the University's commuter parking lot. Reverend Hesse is available for counseling by appointment.
Reverend Paul Nesbit, First Congregational Church
Rabbi Shahar Decassares Colt, Jewish - Congregation Ahavas Achim
Services are held on the High Holy Days and approximately twice a month for the Jewish Sabbath and for other Jewish holidays. Services are held jointly with Congregation Ahavas Achim of Westfield at the Interfaith Center on campus. Rabbi Colt is available for counseling by appointment.
Shaikh Mirza Yawar Baig, Islamic Society of Western Mass
Dr. Mohammad S. Bajwa, Islamic Society of Western Mass
Local Worship Days and Times
Catholic Mass at the Interfaith Center
Sunday • 11:00 AM
Central Baptist Church
115 Elm Street
Sunday • 10:00 AM
Episcopal Church of the Atonement
36 Court Street
Sunday • 8:00 AM • 10:00 AM
First Congregational Church
18 Broad Street - on the green
Sunday • 9:30 AM
First United Methodist Church
16 Court Street
Sunday • 10:00 AM
Muslim Prayer at the Interfaith Center
Duhr 12:43 PM 1:00 PM
Asr 4:07 PM 5:00 PM
Maghrib 6:46 PM 6:46 PM
UCC - Second Congregational Church
487 Western Avenue
Sunday • 10:00 AM
Interfaith Programming and Student Activities
The Westfield State University Foundation, Inc. supports the University's Interfaith Programming Committee (IPC) for the purpose of offering additional religious, spiritual and interfaith programs on campus.
The IPC also welcomes new student members. If interested, contact Father Savage at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information about religious student organizations and activities on campus including Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and the Jewish Student Organization (JSO) visit our Clubs & Organizations page.
Interfaith Center Facilities
The Center's main worship area seats about 90 and authorized groups using the Center are responsible for bringing and removing any symbols or artifacts particular to their faiths. The Center’s chapel features a magnificent pipe organ with two manuals, a pedalboard and three and one-half ranks of pipes. The organ may be played by bona fide musicians familiar with such instruments including students from the University's Music Department.
On the lower level of the Center there are offices for University Chaplains and a lounge for meetings or gatherings.
Student members of all faiths are invited to use the Interfaith Center by request through the Chaplains or through the advisers of religious student organizations.
Supporting the Center
The Interfaith Center on campus was dedicated on May 16, 1982. Albert F. and Amelia Ferst of Westfield - for whom the Center is named - demonstrated extraordinary generosity in championing the cause, and taking the lead in the first joint fundraising effort in the history of Westfield State University, involving students, parents, faculty, staff, and alumni of the college, and the people, businesses, organizations, and churches of Greater Westfield. The Ferst family also donated the Center's pipe organ in memory of their parents.
The operation and maintenance of the Albert and Amelia Ferst Interfaith Center requires ongoing funding through the goodwill of those who use it and those who support its mission.
Inquiries and contributions may be directed to:
Lisa G. McMahon
Interim Vice President, Institutional Advancement and Executive Director, Westfield State Foundation, Inc.