Westwood, Massachusetts. Islington Community Church. Records, 1875-2004
History of the Church
According to a note written in 1926, the forerunner of the Islington Church was the Balch Society, which was organized in 1875 until the church formally came together in 1878 and the Balch Society dissolved its religious services. In 1885, the Society ceased having business meetings. At that time, it called itself Springvale, and then transitioned to the Orthodox Congregational Church. The congregation built a dedicated space in 1881 after the realization that the town hall was not sufficient for their needs. Due to slow growth, the Home Mission Society bolstered the organization from 1895 until the town and therefore the church grew more quickly. By 1916, the membership warranted a larger space, and they build accordingly.
In 1918, church member Philo Noon recommended that the congregation follow the Community Church plan, which offered membership to any "follower of Christ without denominational affiliation." This structure suited the organization and remained in place until the church closed, although in 1996, Islington did join the United Church of Christ.
Of the ministers called to Islington, Edwin P. Booth was most notable with 26 years of service. Dr. Booth joined the church as its minister in 1922 while still a student. Because Booth was still teaching while overseeing Islington, he inaugurated the plan of calling student ministers from Boston University to act as his assistants. These young men served for a few years and then moved on to other callings around the country.
This system was abandoned in 1948 when a continuingly growing membership required a full time minister. Douglas Brayton was the first minister to fulfill the revised ministerial role.
In 1967, the church dedicated a new house of worship. Unfortunately, shortly after the dedication, the membership began a slow decline. The Women's Fellowship and Mother's Morning Out, the nursery school run at the church, remained the more dynamic activities. In 2001 and 2002, the congregation consolidated in an effort to survive. However, this effort was not enough to revive the organization, and the church closed in 2004 under the leadership of interim minister, Kathryn Titus.
For a more complete review of the church's history up to 1970, review folders 4 and 5 of Series 7.
List of Ministers
|C. B. Smith||1878-1891|
|W. F. Bickford||1891|
|A. H. Johnson||1904|
|E. A. Rudd||Home Mission supply minister|
|Lewis A. Eaton||Home Mission supply minister|
|J. H. Gould||Home Mission supply minister|
|F. D. George||Home Mission supply minister|
|Harry S. Lowd||1912-1918|
|N. T. Whittaker||1918-1920|
|Edwin Prince Booth||1922-|
|Student Ministers Associated with Dr. Booth|
|Gerald Eusley, Willis Ford, and Mr. Larrabee||1932-1933|
|John B. Magee||1942-1943|
|Douglas P. Brayton||1949-1954|
|Edwin P. Booth, Intrim||1954, June-October|
|Edwin P. Booth, Minister Emeritus||1949-1969|
|Richard G. Smith||1956-1964|
|W. S. Sahakian, Interim||1965|
|Ernest Bodenweber, Jr.||1966-1969|
|John Samuelson, Interim||Dec. 1969-April 1970|
|W. Allan Knight||1971-1974|
|John A. Samuelson||1975-1983||(Served as Interim Sept. 1974-April 1975)|
|John A. Fassett, Interim||1984|
|Mathew D. Arnett||1990-1992|
|Colin Leitch, Interim||2000-2003|
|Kathryn Titus, Interim||2003-2004|
Scope and Content
|Series 1: Church Records 1875-2004|
|Sub-series A: Annual Reports, 1875-2004. The earliest records includes all meetings and vital statistics that should also be referred to as well as those minutes and statistics kept in separate sections of the collection.|
|Subseries B: Committee Minutes and Correspondence, 1941-2004. Be aware that while most years have some minutes represented, some do not have correspondence. The final box of this sub-series includes all the documentation related to the church closing.|
|Series 2: Ministers 1960s-2004. There is no information that pre-dates Dr. Booth. Rev. Titus’s contributions take up the majority of this series and mostly cover administrative issues dealing with closing the church. The file on "Calls and Dismissals" are made up of the correspondence welcoming a new minister and the letters the minister wrote after it was decided for them to leave the community, usually resignations. The file on installations have programs and clippings describing the event of the new minister joining the church.|
|Series 3: Membership, Vital Statistics 1878-2004. Earlier records from 1875-1920s are also in Series 1’s ledgers. Unusually, there are marriage records included here for several decades. The first ledger in this series has a very comprehensive list of the leadership of the church: deacons, deaconesses, committee members, and so on, and appears to cover almost the entire life of the church. The 19th century correspondence is almost exclusively admission/dismissal-related. The final file includes mostly confirmations from 2002-2003 with Rev. Colin Leitch, plus confirmations from 1980, and finally a list of high school graduates from 1961.|
|Series 4: Financial 1880s-2004. There are 2 ledgers from the early 20th century. This series does not provide a day-to-day view of the finances of the church. Please see the early ledgers, annual reports, and committee records for more detail.|
|Series 5: Building 1960s-2004. The first half of this series focuses on the new building erected in 1967 and the second half involves the sale of the building. There is a large amount of correspondence between Kathryn Titus and the lawyers handling the sale. Financial activities related to closing the church and allocating the remaining funds to charities is also included. For day-to-day information about the physical plant, refer to the annual reports or committee minutes.|
|Series 6: Auxiliary Groups, Activities 1941-2004. There is only spotty record keeping for social or charitable groups within the church for everything save the Women’s Association. Included in this series are letters to World War II service people, the street fair, a couple’s club, and Men’s Club. Like in the previous series described, more information on auxiliaries and activities available in reports and minutes.|
|Series 7: Publications and History, -2004. Includes monthly newsletters, a sample of Sunday programs, and programs from activities. There are several histories, although none that date past 1970. The most recent images are often identified, and grouped by decade. Most loose clippings found throughout the collection were gathered together.|