For the last month and a half, we have been hosting a new Simmons grad student, Elyse Edwards. She has been working on processing a collection for us for her Intro To Archives internship.
Coming from the west coast, I have grown up learning predominately about Mission history, my congregational history knowledge being relegated to a few sections studied in US History many years ago. One thing that I've really enjoyed about this whole process, aside from being able to put archival theories into practice in a real life situation, is the opportunity to learn about people, places, and times that otherwise might never have crossed my path. Through this experience, I have been able to fully immerse myself in the history of the Union Congregational Church at Winthrop, the "Friendly Church by the Sea". In sifting through over 100 years of records, I found that this church, its members, and clergy truly embodied the ideals of a "friendly church by the sea". While membership fluctuated over the years, the church continued to be an active part of the community. The Women's Association was particularly noteworthy, regularly providing assistance not just to church members but to the church itself. They organized and sponsored a majority of the church events over the years, in addition to engaging members and encouraging participation in there's and other auxiliary groups.
In the end, low membership and the high cost of maintaining the church as an organization and a building led to its demise. However, UCC Winthrop will always serve as a noteworthy example of a community who, feeling that their spiritual needs were not being met, founded a congregation that addressed and satisfied their needs for over a century.