Grace Congregational United Church of Christ

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God calls us not to be successful, but faithful




In April 2008, Grace embarked upon a redevelopment journey using the resources and approach of Natural Church Development. We expect to continue our reorientation to Ministry Teams by establishing gifts-based ministries.

The autumn of 2007 brought continued innovation in worship to adapt to our new reality as a small church in an untraditional space. As our anniversary services approached in December 2007 and January 2008, Grace Congregational United Church of Christ began to plan the next phase of redevelopment.

Through the fall and winter of 2006-2007, contractors made physical improvements to the building at 76 Salem End Road, including a new roof, new siding, and modest electrical work. The Construction Task Team organized this work. Other task teams sprang up to address different tasks through the year. Many guests joined us under a large tent on September 16, 2007 for a Service of Dedication for our new location.

In the fall of 2006, we purchased the building at 76 Salem End Road. The building, a split-entry house, had been the location of the Metrowest Jewish Day School and the offices of the Metrowest Jewish Reporter. We held our candle-lit Christmas Eve service of lessons and carols in the new building on December 24, 2006. We began holding regular worship with the Sunday morning service on January 21, 2007.

In July 2006, we welcomed the Reverend Bradford Taylor Watters as our Redevelopment Pastor. In 2006, we entered a discernment process to identify the Core Values of our congregation, completing that work in the spring of 2007.

In 2005, we sold the historic building at 73 Union Avenue to the New Life Presbyterian Church, a Brazilian/Brazilian American congregation who had been renting space from us as their church grew. They rapidly began significant changes to the building to accommodate their worship style, to upgrade the weatherizing of windows, and to repair the bell tower. Grace Congregational UCC continued to use the Union Avenue church building as tenants through 2006. Due to changes that removed the organ from the sanctuary, we grew to depend upon a concert grand piano for music in worship. We began our efforts to find or build a new church home.

The Reverend Gretchen Jones Switzer served as Interim Pastor from 2004 – 2006.

The Reverend Richard Leavitt became pastor in 1994 and served until 2003.

After serious and faithful study, Grace adopted an Statement of Inclusiveness and thereby identified itself to the world as an Open and Affirming congregation of the United Church of Christ.

The Reverend Beth Wieman became the first woman Associate Pastor in January 1987 and worked in that capacity until the Fall of 1995.


Grace held a Service of Installation for the Reverend Dr. David Dickerman on November 24, 1985. Reverend Dickerman’s tenure as minister of Grace Church concluded in December of 1993.

In January 1978, Rev John H. Williams was called as Dean of Educational Ministries. During late 1978, the restoration of the chancel organ was completed.

We called Rev. Dr. Thomas E. Dipko to be our fourteenth pastor in February 1977. Pawtucket Congregational Church called Reverend Cepelak as their Senior Pastor in 1977, ending his service with Grace. Dr. Dipko was elected Ohio Conference Minister of the UCC In 1984.

The Centennial Funds were instituted, as part of Grace’s 100th anniversary celebration.

Grace Congregational UCC Indonesian Missionary?

It all started with a World Council of Churches Ecumenical Work Camp in Bali in 1964. Susan Onksen, a member of Grace Congregational UCC, was accepted to the camp. She had to look Bali up on a map to find where that was! One thing led to another as Susan participated in other international and local opportunities. She met her husband Itja (RevIshak Nivolas Frans) during this time and they became engaged. In 1967, Susan went back to Indonesia where Itja had finished his agricultural training. He took over the GMIT’s (Christian Church of Timor) farm school from the Mennonite founders. They married in Jakarta and eventually made it to the island of Timor to stay. Susan Frans has since then been "our" missionary in the city Kupang, in the state East Nusa Tenggara, which is in Indonesia, (located on the west end of the island of Timor.) She teaches at a variety of levels from kindergarten to university. Her husband, Itja, is also a teacher and a published scholar.

Grace rewrote the corporate By Laws in order to provide a departmental church structure. The church continued to encourage both local and worldwide mission .

In June 1972, Reverend J. Howard Cepelak became Associate Pastor. The church opened our large, versatile, centrally located building to many community organizations We hosted Big Brother/Big Sister of Framingham, the Women’s Health Project, AlAnon, and others Grace became a “teaching parish” for Andover-Newton Theological School, continuing a tradition of providing a place for theology students to participate in the clergy ministries of our church.

In February 1971, Reverend Wallace C. Short was called to the pastorate, serving until his death on February 16, 1976.

 In 1970, Grace opened the Teen Center.

Reverend Madison V. Scott served from 1966 to 1970.

The church purchased a second parsonage for the use of the Christian Education Director in 1962, showing a powerful dedication to ongoing education for children and adults. Grace joined the Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries Grace hosted “The Hot Line” telephone listening and referral service to provide emergency contact for those in distress.


In 1961, Grace Church joined the United Church of Christ .

Reverend Daniel W. Fenner came to Grace in December 1957.

Reverend John Whitney MacNeil began his ministry at Grace Church on December 9, 1949 and served until June 1957 .The church purchased its first parsonage at 151 Maple Street. The Women’s Social Action Committee took action to bring mental health facilities to this area for the first time.

The 75th anniversary was celebrated in 1948. During this time, a plan was drawn up for stained glass windows in the sanctuary.


Reverend Bernard Drew came on March 1, 1944, serving until 1949. The church organized a Youth Group. The congregation dedicated the Portmore Altar, which we are using in 2008. The church dedicated a new, more intimate worship space and named it Lathrop Chapel in honor of Rev. Lathrop.


Reverend Harry L. Meyer came here December 1, 1936 and served until September 16, 1943. Land along the Sudbury River was given for a playground called Grace Park

On November 14, 1926, a celebration saw laying of the cornerstone for a new building. Less than a year later, on October 9, 1927 Grace dedicated and opened the Gothic edifice that remains standing at 73 Union Avenue, seating about 800.

On February 6, 1926, a fire destroyed the church building. Through this crisis, the congregation held services in a local theater. Showing characteristic resilience, the congregation immediately began making plans to rebuild.

In 1924, the congregation held a service to dedicate the new chancel and memorial organ.

In 1923, the church celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Reverend Theodore B. Lathrop came in 1921 and was with us until 1936.

Reverend William B. Tuthill served from April 1918 to April 1920.

Reverend George Edward Martin served from 1917-1918.

Reverend Harold Colson Feast served from 1911-1917.

The Church building was enlarged and its 25th anniversary was celebrated Reverend Charles H. Daniels served the church as minister from December 1903 to January 1911. During these years, Grace enlarged the church building. The congregation held a 25th anniversary celebration.

Reverend F. E. Emrich, D.D. became the third minister of Grace Church in January 1890, serving until July 9, 1903 .

In 1884, in April, the Church voted to become a corporation under the name of “Grace Congregational Church of South Framingham.”

In 1883, the church formed a Christian Endeavor Society, an outreach to, and an effort by young people.

Reverend William Eastman, cousin of our first leader Reverend L. R. Eastman, became our second minister on February 12, 1880 .

On April 4, 1874, the church built its first chapel, seating 250 persons. The women of Grace formed the Ladies Organization.

On May 1, 1873, the new congregation called Reverend David Marks Bean as their first Minister. In July 1873, the congregation purchased, for $1000, a vacant lot at the corner of Pearl Street and Union Avenue. This would be the location for Grace Church for the next 134 years.

Reverend L..R. Eastman was our founding leader.

On January 2, 1873, a group of fifty-seven people from South Framingham asked to be “dismissed” from the Plymouth Society, the church that would become the present-day Plymouth Church, to form a new congregation. Plymouth Society voted to grant this permission thus continuing Plymouth’s tradition of multiplying churches. This “dismissal” was the formal language for supporting new gatherings that became what we now know as Edwards Church and Ashland Federated Church.


76 Salem End Road, Framingham, MA  01702
(508) 872-3342 

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