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