CELEBRATING 200 YEARS OF METHODISM IN BARNSTABLE!
On Sunday, September 15, 2019, the United Methodist Church of Osterville celebrated 200 years of Methodism in Barnstable, followed by a luncheon and speakers presenting the story and development of Methodism in the town of Barnstable. Enjoy our video presented to our attendees that reflects back on our history and purpose in our beautiful community.
This year we celebrate 200 years of Methodist mission and ministry in Barnstable. I can only begin to imagine the changes the people called Methodist have seen in that time: new buildings, mergers, a new denomination, new missions, new generations. And let’s not forget the tremendous changes in communication, transportation and technology. As our church has changed and grown, so too has Barnstable, our nation, and our world.
In all this change, some things remain constant. Two hundred years ago, our founders gathered to learn and support one another on the journey of life, love and Christian discipleship. We’re still doing that today. Every time we gather for worship, prayer, Bible study, or service to the community, we continue the witness of our founders. We’re still telling the same story of God’s extravagant love, constant through time and history, and all encompassing.
As we look into the next 200 years of mission and ministry, so much remains uncertain. And yet, we know this, God is with us. God led the original families who gathered with the hope and dream to form a Methodist Community. We will continue to be faithful to their dreams and to God’s call. Let us move forward with faithfulness, creativity and courage, trusting that God will lead. Together in Christ… Committed to Serve.
Grateful to be with you on the journey,
Rev. Heather Bailes Baker, Pastor
September 15, 2019
The United Methodist Church, A History
FIRST BARNSTABLE …
Rev. William Black, the founder of Methodism in the Canadian maritime provinces, was traveling from New York to Boston by packet when his storm-tossed ship was forced to anchor in Hyannis harbor on January 20, 1784. He thereupon traveled to Barnstable Village to preach six sermons. Whether a Dr. Jonas Whitman was among those who heard Rev. Black preach is unknown, but eventually there was a Methodist class meeting in Dr. Whitman’s West Barnstable home. As this class (known as the Great Marsh Class) grew in size, smaller groups broke away to form their own classes, usually along geographical lines, transportation being the problem it was in those days. These classes all fell within the so-called Barnstable Circuit, which erected its first church building, in Barnstable Village, in 1826. There were then eleven classes within the Barnstable Circuit, but by 1837 some of these classes had died out, merged, or built their own church building. Methodism (known as Methodist Episcopal in the early days) in Barnstable Village gradually died out and the Barnstable Village church closed in 1894
THEN HYANNIS …
One of the eleven classes mentioned above was the Hyannis Class. In 1841 they built a meetinghouse on Main Street, Hyannis. Five years later a split occurred, one faction becoming Protestant (or Wesleyan) Methodists and the other remaining Methodist Episcopal. Neither Society prospered, so when a new Congregational Society was organized in Hyannis in 1854, Methodists of both Societies joined it. The Main Street meetinghouse was purchased by the Congregational Society as their house of worship. In 1917 the Congregationalists and Universalists merged to become the Hyannis Federated Church.
MARSTONS MILLS NEXT …
Among early Methodists who traveled to West Barnstable to attend the class at Dr. Whitman’s home were Lewis Hamblin and Eldred Baker, Sr., who lived in a part of Marstons Mills known as Hamblin’s Plain. As more of their neighbors joined them in worship, it became evident that they should form a class of their own, and thus, 200 years ago, in 1819, the Hamblin’s Plain Class was organized. People from Osterville, Cotuit and Cotuit Port joined this class
AND THEN COTUIT …
Around 1846, members of the Hamblin’s Plain Class who lived in Cotuit and Cotuit Port withdrew to establish their own Society, which met in the newly-built Cotuit Port Meetinghouse on Main Street, Cotuit. This building provided a house of worship for three denominations: Methodist, Baptist and Congregational. In 1879, this melded group reorganized under the name Independent Christian Church. By 1900 most Methodists had withdrawn from the congregation to hold meetings in various places in Cotuit and Santuit. Finally, in 1901, a church building was erected at High and School Streets by the Cotuit Methodists. The Congregationalists and Methodists re-combined to become the Cotuit Federated Church in 1923. To this day, the Cotuit Federated Church maintains its affiliation with the Methodist denomination.
… AND SO TO OSTERVILLE!
As of 1819, there were people from Osterville meeting with the Hamblin’s Plain Class in Marstons Mills. Their number increased, so a separate class, known as the Osterville Class, was formed in 1829, with about 10 members. This group was officially a part of the Marstons Mills Methodist Society in the Barnstable Circuit, and its members traveled to the Mills to attend formal Sunday worship services in the Main Street meetinghouse.
In 1846 the Osterville Class members felt strong enough to form their own separate Society; thus, 30 members withdrew from the Marstons Mills Methodist Society and started meeting in the Old Village Hall as the Osterville Methodist Episcopal Church. Land on Main Street, Osterville was purchased from members Oliver Hinckley and Josiah Scudder, and a church was built in 1847 at a cost of $2,500.00. The membership more than doubled in the next ten years. In 1855 additional land was given to the church by members Isaac Ewer and his wife, Achsah, and a parsonage was built and furnished at the corner of Main Street and West Bay Road.
A Ladies Sewing Circle at the Ostervillechurch started early, but later disbanded, and in 1883 a Ladies’ Aid Society was formed. There was also about that time a group known as the Women’s Foreign Missionary Society. On a list of members who were elected to the Board of Stewards for the year 1887, is listed for the first time, a woman: Mary W. Crosby. Not until 1898 was a woman to serve on the Church Board of Trustees.
A new organ was purchased for the Osterville church in 1888. In 1890 and 1891 the church was remodeled at an expense of $1,800.00. The gallery was removed and two small side entries were taken down. The belfry was removed from the roof and a vestibule and tower built. New pews and pulpit furniture were installed. A stained-glass window in memory of Oliver Hinckley and his wife, Louisa (Crocker) Hinckley, was given by their family.
In 1921 Sunday church services were united with the Osterville Baptist Church, with preaching taking place for three months in one church, then in the other. In March, 1924, a formal merger of the two churches was reached, and the name “Community Church” was adopted. The Osterville Methodist Church building was used for services. When the time came for the union to be formalized, however, a majority of Baptists declined to join the Community Church. Others did join, and within a short time there were 10 different denominational backgrounds represented in the congregation. The Osterville Community Church continued for 23 years and was officially incorporated in 1934.
More church remodeling was done in 1934 and again in 1937, when the interior was reconstructed in colonial style and several memorial gifts were given. The Lagergren house on Main Street opposite the church was purchased in January, 1947, and used for church school classrooms. It was later sold, the house razed, and the original Osterville House & Garden Shop was built on the site. In 1950 the church was physically raised and a full basement put beneath it. During renovation, Sunday worship services were held at the Osterville Elementary School on West Bay Road. On October 14, 1950, a laying of the corner stone ceremony was held, and on November 5, 1950 the congregation returned to its own sanctuary.
A study to consider the future of the Osterville church began in 1956. The recommendation of the study committee was that the Community Church be re-organized as a Methodist Church under the Book of Discipline. This recommendation was approved on February 26, 1957.
In August, 1958, the present church property on Pond Street was purchased for $45,000.00. On this parcel were a former shop building which the church used as a parish house and a small cottage. Also included was a house facing Main Street, which was renovated and refurnished as a parsonage. The old parsonage, located on the site of the present Osterville Post Office, was then sold. In 1958 a church steeple, which had been discussed for several years, was finally constructed and added to the roof of the Main Street church.
Much later, at the Quarterly Conference, April 7, 1967, discussion was held in the Mills concerning the future of the Marstons Mills Methodist Church. The question was raised as to whether a merger with the Osterville Methodist Church, as one parish with one minister, might be possible. On September 17, and 18, 1967, both churches put the question before their respective members, and the union was approved. On Sunday, June 2, 1968, ceremonies merging these two churches into one United Methodist Church were conducted. Eighty-five members of the Marstons Mills church transferred their membership to the United Methodist Church, Osterville.
Another building committee had formed in Osterville in 1964 to consider future space requirements. The recommendation was that a Main Street addition be built, enlarging the sanctuary and providing a more convenient fellowship hall and kitchen facilities. However, given the September, 1967 vote to merge with the Marstons Mills Methodist Church, the committee re-thought its plan. What was needed to accommodate the enlarged church family was an entirely new building. A vote was put to the members of the United Methodist Church (as the newly-merged church was named) and the committee’s recommendation to build a church on the property on Pond Street passed. A building campaign began, and a mortgage of $165,000.00 was obtained. On Sunday, August 3, 1969, a groundbreaking ceremony was held and construction commenced.
The approximate total cost of the new church at completion was $269,644.00. The sale of old church properties in 1970 (church and parsonage in Marstons Mills and the Main Street church in Osterville) helped to reduce the mortgage.
On June 14, 1970 the congregation moved into the new church building, a worship service starting at the old building on Main Street and ending in the new one after a procession between the two, in which the congregation transported hymn books and other articles to be used in the Pond Street church.
The spire and bell were brought from the old building. The Oliver and Louisa Hinckley memorial window also came to Pond Street (and was installed in the sanctuary in 2007). The chapel was named the “Wayne Hinckley Memorial Chapel” to honor a member of this church who died June 26, 1965 at age 20. The fellowship hall was named the “Fred Curtis Memorial Hall” in memory of Frederick N. Curtis of Osterville who died May 28, 1969 in the Vietnam War. The cross which hangs above the alter was made by several men of the congregation. The organ, originally from a former Episcopal Church in Norwich, Connecticut, and which had lain unused in an Osterville cellar for years, was installed.
In May 1981, the late Hope Cloud suggested that the neighboring Pond Street parish house be converted into a consignment shop to help boost church income. By 1983, Rainbows End Thrift Shop moved into all three rooms of the parish house and realized a profit of over $5,000.00 for the church that year.
In 1992, during Rev. Blaine Taylor’s eight-year ministry, the United Methodist Church in Osterville voted to become a Reconciling Congregation. This meant that all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons were accepted and welcomed into our congregation. This was the first such designation in the New England Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Before the untimely death of Rev. Taylor, our Bright Promises Preschool (formerly a playgroup) was incorporated under the church’s charitable designation. During this time, the United Methodist Women was re-established. The Methodist Youth Fellowship was active and two Sunday schools were full and vibrant. In 1995, the church purchased a Centerville parsonage which was sold by the church Board of Trustees in 2009.
Another building committee formed in the late 1980s to address handicapped accessibility and the need for more Sunday School room. In 2001, following the Promises to Keep Capital Campaign, ground was broken to start the construction of a substantial addition to the church. By 2002, the addition was complete, including a welcoming solarium, larger offices for staff, and an elevator. The Campaign also included the construction of a balcony above the sanctuary, a separate choir room, and extensive enlargement of the chancel.
In 2004, under the leadership of Rev. Stephen C. Stolle, historical high populations were achieved in both Church membership (587) and in Church school attendance (130). Additional construction took place in 2005, when kitchen appliances were upgraded, the Annex (the parsonage on the Pond Street property purchased in 1958) windows and roof were replaced, and new windows were installed in the church building. Memorial benches were added to the outdoor chapel. The following year a door and all windows were replaced in the cottage on the Pond Street parcel.
Time and events test every institution, and the United Methodist Church in Osterville is no exception. While a spiritual place, the church is also a human place. Trusting in God’s grace, the church has shown tremendous resiliency in times of adversity, difference and division. Rev. John Holt would offer a ministry of comfort and healing beginning July, 2008 until his retirement. In July 2016, Rev. Heather R. Bailes Baker was appointed the first full-time female pastor to serve at 57 Pond Street.
Despite trials and tribulations, the church ministry programs have developed and thrived in the new millennium: the Days and Nights of Hospitality began in 2003/2004; the Friendship Ministry for developmentally-challenged youth started in 2006, as did the Prayer Shawl Ministry and the Barnstable Interfaith Council (BIC) card program to aid the homeless. Church members were and remain devoted to the many and various outreach efforts, including Rural Missions program in South Carolina, Food Pantry, Miracle Kitchen, Child Rescue Center in Sierra Leone, Holiday Fair, Congregational Care Team, United Methodist Women and other mission undertakings.
In addition, the Board of Trustees continues to capably manage church real estate and financial matters. For instance, over $80,000.00 was raised in 2007 by the You Are The Church Campaign to reduce the church mortgage, with the remaining debt being consolidated with the parsonage mortgage for considerable savings. In 2009, the Centerville parsonage was sold and the proceeds were used to reduce the church mortgage balance, to create a savings fund for a new parsonage, and to reimburse the Endowment Fund for the 1995 loan to purchase the Centerville parsonage. In 2019, 70 solar panels were installed on the church roof to generate electricity and income for the church, as as an investment in a better environment for our children and grandchildren.
Our Vision Statement, “Together In Christ – Committed to Serve” was adopted by the Church Council in 2009, and a mural reflecting that vision was painted on the solarium wall in 2012. Our direct Methodist forebears, when first meeting 200 years ago in Marstons Mills, lived and believed in this same vision.
Pastors of the United Methodist Church
1847 Abram M. Osgood, Lorenzo W. Barber
1848 John Burleigh Hunt
1849 Nahum Tainter
1850 John Tasker
1851 James B. Washburn
1852 Benjamin K. Bosworth
1853 Josiah C. Allen
1854 John Burleigh Hunt
1855 John N. Collier
1857 John W. Willett
1859 Edmund K. Colby
1861 Henry D. Robinson
1863 Edward Edson
1865 Edward M. Anthony
1867 Charles Noble Hinckley
1870 Solomon P. Snow
1872 Charles H. Ewer
1874 William A. Cottle
1875 James W. Fitch
1876 D.C. Porter
1877 George H. Butler
1878 Ephraim S. Fletcher
1879 S. Hamilton Day
1881 George A. Grant
1884 Winfield W. Hall
1885 Lewis Bates Codding
1887 Charles H. Dalrymple, Elmer F. Newell
1888 Edward B. Gurney
1890 Frederick H. Corson
1892 Oscar E. Johnson
1895 George A. Sisson
1896 Orville A. Farley
1897 George Milton Fowles
1898 Eugene M. Antrim
1900 Ralph Tyler Flewelling
1901 John Annas, Claud H. Priddy
1903 E. Parke Lyons (died), George A. Henry
1904 George A. Henry
1905 William E. Plaxton
1907 Ernest McP. Ames
1911 W.T. Johnson
1913 Dwight B. Nelson
1916 Horace L. McBride
1918 Elmer F. Newell
1919 P.B.L. Seller
1920 David C. Thatcher
1921 J. Harry Hall
1922 Robert Van Kirk (Baptist)
1923 Will F. Geisler
1928 Raymond w. Hibbard
1939 Howard E. Tower
1943 Jackson L. Butler
1947 Peter Palches
1953 Eugene McKinnon White
1958 Parker Ward (died)
1963 Sherwood Treadwell
1968 United Methodist Church formed from the merger of the Marstons Mills & Osterville Methodist Churches
1968 Harvey K. Mousley
1971 Richard G. Colby
1976 Wendell D. Luke, Jr.
1986 Blaine E. Taylor (died)
1994 Edwards Farrell-Starbuck
1995 Stephen C. Stolle
2008 John Holt
2016 Heather Bailes Baker
Sharlene Moran, Chair
The 200thAnniversary Committee wish to thank all those who have given their voices to the anniversary video.
Rev. Heather R. Bailes Baker
Joanne and Arthur Clark
The Church on Main Street
by Hazel Lapham Aittaniemi
This building we leave in Osterville
Has a history all its own,
The mother church was Marstons Mills,
Old records there have shown.
But in 1847 here,
A little Methodist band,
Numbering thirty members strong
Build this meeting house by hand.
It appears that ten years later,
Things were going very well.
They had doubled the congregation,
Bought a melodion and a bell.
Remodeling was done in ‘91*
(With a huge $1800. to seek)
They dedicated the Hinckley window then
And paid the pastor $5. per week!
The past records triumphs and trials,
At times, a change of name!
A steeple added, vested choirs,
God’s message to proclaim.
I’m sure that many here today
Can remember vividly
Special events. Highlights, recall
The way it “used to be.”
Expect you’ve heard this old tale too,
(It happened before my time)
How a group of older pranksome boys
Stole, from out our bell, its chime?
They say the Leonard smithy made
A second tongue, brand new.
At a later date, the first was found.
It seems we now have two!
We’ve put that bell in our new church tower
To sound in future years.
We’re keeping our hallowed altar, too,
That’s witnessed our joys and tears.
So ring the bell in glad acclaim
Arise and heed its toll!
Not “out the old” and “in the new”
But weld both into a perfect whole!
And kneel in awe at the altar rail
Be as Thankful as you can.
For the holy fellowship of Christ
And the brotherhood of man.
Kipling said it long ago
What sets a man apart
“Still stand that ancient sacrifice
A humble, contrite heart”
Rejoined, we’ve built in troubled times,
Exalting all the way, while others search.
Let us pledge anew, support and love
To our beautiful United Methodist Church.