Our History

Our History

Grace Church was founded on January 2, 1873, when a group of fifty-seven people from South Framingham seceded from Plymouth Church. Their first leader was the Rev. L.R. Eastman.

On May 1, 1873, Rev. David Marks Bean became their first Minister; in July, a vacant lot at the corner of Pearl Street and Union Avenue was purchased for $1000. On April 4, 1874, a chapel seating 250 persons was built.

Rev. William Eastman became their second minister on February 12, 1880. A Christian Endeavor Society was organized in 1883, and in 1884 a Ladies Organization was formed. That same year, in April, the Church voted to become a corporation under the name of �Grace Congregational Church of South Framingham.� Rev. F. E. Emrich, D.D. became the third minister of Grace Church in January 1890, serving until July 9, 1903. The Church building was enlarged and its 25th anniversary was celebrated. Rev. Charles H. Daniels was minister from December 1903 to January 1911; Rev. Harold Colson Feast served from 1911-1917; followed by Rev. William B. Tuthill from April 1918 to April 1920.

The next minister was Rev. Theodore B. Lathrop who came in 1921 and was with us until 1936. In 1923 the 50th anniversary was celebrated; in 1924 the new chancel and memorial organ were dedicated. On February 6, 1926, the church building was completely destroyed by fire. Services were held in a local theater. On November 14, 1926, the new cornerstone was laid and on October 9, 1927 the present Gothic edifice was dedicated, seating about 800.

Rev. Harry L. Meyer came here December 1, 1936 and served until September 16, 1943. Land along the Sudbury River was given for a playground (Grace Park). Rev. Bernard Drew came on March 1, 1944, serving until 1949. A Youth Group was organized, the Giblet Portmore Memorial Alter and Lathrop Chapel were dedicated, and the 75th anniversary was celebrated. During this time, a plan was drawn up for stained glass windows in the sanctuary.

Rev. John Whitney MacNeil began his ministry at Grace Church on December 9, 1949 and served until June 1957. Our first parsonage at 151 Maple Street was purchased. The Social Action Committee was responsible for bringing mental health facilities to this area for the first time.

Rev. Daniel W. Fenner came to Grace in December 1957. In 1961, Grace Church joined the United Church of Christ. A second parsonage for the use of the Christian Education Director was purchased in 1962. Grace joined toe Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries; �The Hot Line� telephone listening and referral service was put into operation; in 1970 the Teen Center began. In February 1971, Rev. Wallace C. Short was called to the pastorate, serving until his death on February 16, 1976. In June 1972, Rev. J. Howard Cepelak became Associate Pastor. The church opened to many community organizations: Big Brother/Big Sister; Women�s Health Project; AlAnon. Grace became a �teaching parish� for Andover-Newton Theological School. The By Laws were rewritten providing a departmental church structure; local and world-wide mission both encouraged. The Centennial Funds were instituted, as part of Grace�s 100th anniversary celebration.

Dr. Thomas E. Dipko was called our fourteenth pastor in February, 1977. Rev Cepelak resigned after being called by the Pawtucket Congregational Church. 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. Dr. Dipko was elected Ohio Conference Minister of the U.C.C. and resigned September 9, 1984.

The Rev. Dr. David Dickerman was installed on November 24, 1985. The Rev. Beth Wieman became the first woman Associate Pastor in January 1987 and worked in that capacity until the Fall of 1995. Rev. Dickerman�s tenure as minister of Grace Church concluded in December of 1993.

The Rev. Richard Leavitt became pastor from 1994 to 2003. The Reverend Gretchen Jones Switzer served as Intentional Interim from 2004 – 2006.

In 2005, the church building on 73 Union Avenue was sold to New Life Presbyterian Church, a Brazilian congregation. The Grace congregation has continued to worship at 73 Union Avenue while searching for a new church home in Framingham. In July 2006, we welcomed the Reverend Brad Watters as our Redevelopment Pastor. In January 2007 we settled and began to worship in our new home at 76 Salem End Rd.