An Incredible Journey
In this interview with the Boston Globe, Pastor Wendy Olapade talks about our journey from being a traditional church to being a mission outpost in West Medford.
It was not an easy journey – there was hurt, there was pain, and there was grief. But through it all we felt God was calling us to be something more.
We hope you enjoy the video!
In Search of Sanctuary
As we closed our church building and moved to a storefront, we were aware that our community was part of broad shifts taking place in the U.S. religious landscape. So, when a Boston Globe reporter asked to follow us throughout our process as a lens into those shifts, we gladly welcomed her in!
What resulted was a beautifully crafted documentary of our transition and transformation:
A Timeline of the Congregational Church of West Medford
1864: Rachael Barnes starts a Sabbath School for children in her home.
1872: On February 26, 20 prominent citizens consider forming a church.
1872: West Medford Congregational Society is organized with 26 members on June 12. The first worship service is offered immediately afterwards.
1873: The society numbers 40, calls its first pastor, Rev. Edwin Jagger, and lays cornerstone for first house of worship at the corner of Harvard Ave. and Bower Str. First service in new vestry held on May 10.
1874: On October 14 the building is dedicated second pastor, Rev. Marshall Cutter, is installed.
1876: On petition of Ladies Bible Reading Society, use of wine for Communion is discontinued on April 29 in favor of grape juice (continues to this day).
1882: Installation of third pastor, Rev. Edward Hood.
1886: Jubilee celebration for paying off debts is held in February.
1887: A Hutchins pipe organ is installed and first used on February 6.
1889: Installation of fourth pastor, Rev. Herbart Stebbens.
1894: Congregation numbers 125 with 381 enrolled in Sunday School.
1895: Rev. Stebbens is dismissed because his sermons tended to lean toward liberalism and in spite of strong growth.
1896: Installation of fifth pastor, Rev. Judson Van Clancy.
1897: Henry Barnes offers to purchase land for the Society on the corner of Allston and High Streets.
1897: Women’s groups combine to form the Women’s League.
1899: City of Medford requests to move fire bell to church steeple.
1903: On March 4 fire completely destroys the church building. The congregation votes to build at 400 High Street.
1904: Installation of sixth pastor, Rev. Burt York. On May 29 the cornerstone of the present building is laid.
1905: In January the new house of worship is dedicated.
1912: Installation of seventh pastor, Rev. Cyrus Richardson, for seven-months period. On Children’s Sunday in June a tablet is dedicated to Rachael Barnes.
1913: Installation of Rev. Henry Francis Smith as eighth pastor.
1916: On January 12 a meeting is held to incorporate The Congregational Church of West Medford under the laws of the Commonwealth.
1918: A vote is taken to grant the minister a leave of absence to serve in France.
1927: Fire destroys the front of the sanctuary.
1947: Rev. Gordon Washburn is called as the ninth pastor.
1950: Social action committee added to bylaws.
1954: The Parish House is completed.
1961: The congregation affiliates with the United Church of Christ.
1984: Installation of Rev. F. Henry Dorran as 10th pastor.
1987: Rev. Dr. Larry Titus and Rev. Dr. Kathryn Titus were called as the 11th and 12th pastors.
2000: Funds raised through capital campaign.
2008: Installation of 13th pastor, Rev. Steven T. Savides.
2009: Congregation votes unanimously to become Open and Affirming.
2013: Congregation elects the Rev. Wendy Miller Olapade as designated term pastor, the 14th pastor and teacher.
2014: The congregation moves from its historic home at 400 High Street to a nearby storefront and starts doing ministry as Sanctuary United Church of Christ.