“No matter who you are or where you are on your life journey, you are welcome here.” These words from the United Church of Christ reflect our desire, at Edwards Church, to extend an extravagant welcome. We invite you to come as you are. Bring your doubts and questions, your passion and yearning, your hopes and dreams–they are welcome here! In February 2000, we voted to become an Open and Affirming Congregation, adopting this statement of welcome:
In the name of God and Jesus Christ, Edwards Church, a congregation of the United Church of Christ, welcomes all who seek to know and worship God. We invite everyone to join in our faith journey and participate in our congregational life.
As a community of faith, we take seriously the Biblical call to love God and our neighbors as ourselves, and recognize that although we are many members, we are one. We celebrate the uniqueness of everyone. We rejoice in our diversity of views and understandings of our shared faith. We commit ourselves to work diligently to help end oppression and discrimination. We affirm all relationships founded on the principle of God’s love and justice.
We declare ourselves to be an Open and Affirming congregation. Seeking to be the Body of Christ, we welcome into full fellowship and membership all persons of every race, language, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, physical or cognitive ability, and economic status.
In 2011, as part of a global effort to address the problem of bullying, we created an “It Gets Better” video. Click here to watch it.
Edwards Church has a rich history:
In 1827, the Saxonville Religious Society was incorporated as a congregation in the growing town of Saxonville. That year, the Society erected the present wooden church building, which served as both a place of worship and as a community hall.
Almost 175 years later, we continue to worship in our original sanctuary.
In 1834, the Saxonville Religious Society formed Edwards Church as a Trinitarian congregation which became part of the Congregational tradition. The founders named the church after Jonathan Edwards, a noted 18th century theologian and evangelist of the Great Awakening. They chose this name as a reflection of their commitment to being a Christ-centered church.
In 1905, the structure was enhanced by the addition of electric lights and an organ. Built in the mid-19th century, this organ is one of very few three manual tracker organs in existence.
In 1957, along with many other Congregational Churches, Edwards Church voted to become part of the United Church of Christ.
In 1960, the church constructed Edwards Hall, to provide classroom space and a hall for social events.
In 1974, Edwards Church called its first woman as a settled pastor, Rev. Elizabeth Hambrick-Stowe. At the time, this was a very unusual occurrence. In its own quiet way, Edwards Church has often been in the forefront of social issues.
In February 2000, Edwards Church voted to become an Open and Affirming Congregation, reflecting its commitment to being welcoming to all people.
In September 2002, as we celebrated our 175th Anniversary, we dedicated our Education Building. This new building, which is fully accessible, helps us live out our commitment to being welcoming to all people. It provides bright, warm Sunday school classrooms for our children, a fellowship hall with a kitchen for community gatherings, a place for our choir to rehearse, and more.
In 2011, Edwards Church began developing a new outreach to the community: Open Spirit: A Place of Hope, Health & Harmony. Open Spirit is a multi-faith center whose mission is to celebrate and strengthen our connectedness, promote healing and wholeness, and offer spiritual nourishment.
Edwards Church has a promising future:
During 2003 and 2004, our congregation engaged in a Visioning Process, to gain insight to where God is calling us in the future. After lively and thought-provoking gatherings, some important insights emerged. Our mission as a church is to be a “Renewing, Embracing, and Engaging” congregation.
Renewing: We gather to be renewed by God’s spirit, and we seek to be constantly renewing our faith and our commitment.
Embracing: We embrace one another in the love of God, and we seek to offer God’s embrace to those in need.
Engaging: We are engaged in caring for God’s world, and we seek to be part of offering healing and hope to our broken world.
Who is Edwards anyway?
Our church is named after Jonathan Edwards, an 18th century preacher and evangelist, who was a catalyst for the Great Awakening. Our church’s founders named our church after Edwards because his preaching reflected a commitment to Jesus Christ. There is no apostrophe in “Edwards”.
What is the United Church of Christ?
The United Church of Christ was created in 1957 through the merger of the Congregational Christian Church and the Evangelical and Reformed Church. Like Edwards, most UCC churches in New England come from the Congregational Church, and trace our roots back to the Puritans.
The United Church of Christ has a congregational structure, so each local church is responsible for making our own decisions, based on our understanding of how God is leading us. We come together as a denomination in order to share guidance and support, and to be able to make a difference in the world.
What do the people of Edwards Church believe?
The members and friends of Edwards Church come from a wide range of church backgrounds, and express their beliefs in a variety of ways. Some call themselves seekers, struggling to articulate what they believe. Others are very clear about their faith. We understand that we are walking together on our faith journeys, encouraging one another.
How do you become a member of Edwards Church?
Most people choose to attend worship and other events for a while as they decide whether Edwards Church is the right place for them. Several times a year, we host a Gathering of Friends for people who are interested in learning more about our church and for people who are considering joining. We receive them into membership during a Sunday morning worship service.
What about baptisms at Edwards Church?
We rejoice in every baptism at Edwards Church. We understand baptism to be a celebration of God’s love for the one being baptized, an assurance of God’s promise of ongoing renewal and forgiveness, and a way to welcome a child or adult into the fellowship of the Christian church.
Because baptism includes promises that the congregation makes to nurture the one being baptized, we encourage people who would like their child baptized to become part of the life of the church, so that the congregation can offer the care we have promised.
What about weddings at Edwards Church?
Edwards Church rejoices in the opportunity to celebrate the sacred commitments made at weddings and covenanting ceremonies. Weddings held in the sanctuary are performed by the pastor, at her discretion. Rev. Clark usually meets with a couple three times prior to a wedding and will lead a rehearsal as well.
Rev. Dr. Deborah Clark has been the pastor of Edwards Church since 1996. A graduate of Harvard Divinity School, she was ordained in 1989 and has served churches in Malden and Winthrop. In 2001, she completed her Doctor of Ministry degree in creative writing.
Don Buell, our organist, is a graduate of the Yale, with a particular interest in improvisation and transcriptions. Other interests include tennis, racquetball, writing, and drawing.
Rick Seaholm, our choir director, is working toward the goal of Commissioned Minister of Music in the UCC. He has a degree in vocal performance from UMass Lowell and a Masters in Church Music from Westminster Choir College. Rick also works at Boston University Questrom School of Business ITS department. Rick and his wife Nicola are members of Edwards Church.
Heather Gray, Interim Director of Christian Education, has a background in early childhood education and served many years as Christian Educator for several Connecticut churches before coming to Massachusetts. She believes that all children are beloved by God and loves to support families in sharing their faith with their children. Heather lives in Framingham with her husband James and son Owen.
Maureen Hansen, our Administrative Assistant, supports the work of volunteers and the rest of the staff using her organizational skills.
Lori Wilson, our sexton, lives in Framingham with her Boyfriend Kevin. She enjoys Traveling, Beach and hiking. She loves to spend time with her Kids Nate & Nicole and her newest Joy, Granddaughter Ava.
Nena Radtke is serving as this year’s student pastor as she completed her M.Div at Andover Newton Theological School. She loves being able to share God’s love with those whom she serves through worship leadership, pastoral care, spiritual development and community outreach. She has a strong interest in global social justice and the welfare of God’s creation.
Jeannie, our Ministry Dog, joined our staff in September 2011. She is a service dog trained through NEADS in Princeton, MA. Her work is to show God’s love, primarily by being patted!