We’re part of the United Church of Christ, a denomination whose roots go all the way back to the Pilgrims, and is also a church of many firsts.
Like many UCC churches in New England, we’ve been around for a long time. We got our start way back in 1739. Our current church building was erected in 1867 by Austin Dickinson, Emily’s older brother. The Dickinson family lived right across Main Street from the church.
While our history has helped form us, it’s not the whole story of who we are. Actually, our story means nothing if it’s not part of God’s story.
Way, way back in 1620, the Pilgrim pastor John Robinson put it this way: “There is more light and truth yet to break forth from God’s Holy word.” Much more recently, the UCC put it this way: “God is still speaking.”
In other words, we believe that God’s gospel of love and liberation for all is ever-evolving, especially as we humans struggle to grow in our understanding of just who all is. If we commit ourselves to always listening for God’s still-speaking word, we will forever be expanding our welcome, drawing the circle of love wider and wider and wider until no one—not a single person or type of person or any part of creation!—is left out.
This makes for a humble—and joyful—journey. While we point proudly to our record as one of the first Open and Affirming congregations in the country (1987; #8 in the UCC!), we are constantly listening to God and one another and challenging ourselves to re-consider what it means to live out our welcome. For more than 25 years we focused on embracing and affirming lesbians and gays; more recently, we have felt called to be more intentional about welcoming bisexual, transgender and queer folk as well as to reach out to the homeless in our community.
God is still speaking!
This means we also continue to grow and deepen in our identities and ministries as a Just Peace church (committed to working for justice and ending wars and all kinds of violence, another commitment we made back in 1987). More recently, we have made church-wide commitments to work against racism and caring for the earth. In addition, in 2017 we committed ourselves to providing Sanctuary.
Our view that God is still speaking also informs our structure. You can learn more about it here , but the long and short of it is this: We’re a bottom-up church. Sure, we’ve got a pastor and other staff, and a group of lay leaders who make sure we keep our eyes on the prize and get things done. But the church is created and lived out by its members. We encourage all members to follow their personal calls to ministry and to invite others to join them in ministry teams. Each team determines its own activities (often inviting the participation and support of the entire church). The church moderator (a layperson) and other members of the Elected Leadership Team guide the congregation in visioning and decision-making.
God is still speaking,and our story is still being written—member by member, day by day. Won’t you join us in creating it?