Westwood, Massachusetts. Islington Community Church. Records, 1875-2004

Collection Information

Islington Community Church (Westwood, Mass.) records


Islington Orthodox Church (Westwood, Mass.)
Islington Community Church (Westwood, Mass.)




5.5 linear feet, 15 boxes and one oversize folder. Contains photographs.

Collection ID #:


Conditions Governing Access:


Copyright: Preferred Citation:

[Identification of item], in the Islington Community Church (Westwood, Mass.) records, RG 4825. The Congregational Library and Archive, Boston, MA.

Processing information:

Processed by Jessica Steytler, February 2007

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  
Pierce 1921  
Edwin Prince Booth 1922-  
  Student Ministers Associated with Dr. Booth
  Fred Bratton 1924-1926  
  Douglas Milligan 1926-1928  
  Fred Bratton 1928-1929  
  Ione Sikes 1929-1930  
  Donald Rowlingson 1930-1932  
  Gerald Eusley, Willis Ford, and Mr. Larrabee 1932-1933  
  Donald Rowlingson 1933-1938  
  Harold Jayne 1938-1940  
  Vaughn Shedd 1940-1941  
  John B. Magee 1942-1943  
  John Olson 1943-1944  
  John Phillips 1945-1947  
  John Olson 1947-1948  
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  
Earle Bergman 1985-1989  
Mathew D. Arnett 1990-1992  
John Fassett 1993-1994  
Carol Atwood-Lyon 1995-2000  
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.


Folder List

Series 1: Church Records, 1875-2004

  Sub-series A: Annual Reports
Box 1
1   By Laws  
2   Balch Society 1875-1885
3   Ledger: Meetings, Statement of Faith, Membership, Baptisms 1878-1894; 1906-1946
4   Ledger: Meetings, Membership, Baptisms 1895-1925
5-6   Board and Annual Meetings 1923-1939
7-9   Annual Reports 1941-1949
Box 2
1-6   Annual Reports 1950-1989
Box 3
1-3   Annual Reports 1990-2004
  Sub-series B: Committee Meeting Minutes and Correspondence
4-9   Committee Meetings and Correspondence 1941-1965
Box 4
1   Minutes 1966-1968
2   Trustee Correspondence 1962-1968
3-5   Minutes, Correspondence 1969-1975
Box 5
1-9   Minutes, Correspondence 1976-1989
10   Name Change (Orthodox to Community) 1989
Box 6
1-7   Minutes Correspondence 1990-1996
8   Joining the UCC 1996
Box 7
1-5, 8   Minutes, Correspondence 1997-2001, 2002
6   Church Incorporation Verifciation 2001
7   Consolidation Ad Hoc Committee 2001-2002
Box 8
1-2   Minutes, Correspondence 2003-2004
3   Trustees 2003-2004
4   Membership, Committees 2003-2004
5   Personnel - Islington, Mother's Morning Out (MMO)  
6   Mother's Morning Out (MMO) 2004

Series 2: Ministers, 1960s-2004

7   Booth, Edwin P. 1960s
8   Installations 1970s-1990s
9   Correspondence: Calls and Dismissals (Resignations) 1960s-2000
10   Lists, homecoming, memorial program, sermons 1970s-1990s
11   Supply Ministers 1960s-1990s
12   Baptisms, Pastoral Correspondence 1980s-2004
13   Titus, Kathryn. Sermons 2003-2004
14   Titus, Kathryn. Pastoral Work 2003-2004
15   Titus, Kathryn. Correspondence 2003-2004

Series 3: Membership, Vital Statistics

Box 9
1   Correspondence 1870s-1880s
2   Ledger  
        Leadership 1878-1990
        Membership 1918-1998
        Baptisms, Marriages 1923-1990
        Deaths 1922-1990
3   Ledger  
        Baptisms 1923-1967
        Marriages, Funerals 1923-1969
4   Membership, Directories, Manual 1895, 1950s-2004

Series 4: Financial

5 Correspondence 1880s-1890s
6 Ledger 1911-1918
Box 10
1 Ledger 1919-1942
2 Treasurer's Correspondence 1947-1953
3 Bequests, Memorials  
4 Canvas 1968-1970s
5 Declaration of Trust - Allan Knight, Property 1977-1978
6 McFarlane Scholarship Fund  
7 Statements, Letter 1978, 2000, 2002-2003

Series 5: Building

8-9 Building Committee 1960s
10 New Church, incl. pictures and clippings 1967
11 New Church Dedication, images 1967
Box 11
1 Insurance 2001
2-3 Purchase and sale 2004
4 Financial - Final Allocation, Charties 2003-2004
5 Letter of Intent 2004
6-7 Herwitt and Associates (Lawyers) 2003-2004
8 Westwood Planning and Profiles 2003-2004
9 Recognition Sunday (Final Service) June 20, 2004

Series 7: Publications and History, -2004.

Box 12
1-9 Open Door Newsletter 1960s-1970s, 1987-2004
Box 13
1 Sunday Programs (sample) 1980s-2004
2 Programs and Bulletins  
3 Clippings  
4-5 History, essays  
6 Images  
Box 14
15 - Folder: Oversize
      Ledger: weekly offerings 1953-1956
      Photostat negative – certification of name, Orthodox Church 1911
      Guest Books 1958-2004