Linden Ponds Community Church has become a
committed congregation to meaningful ministry
Several years ago, Linden Ponds, a retirement community in Hingham, Massachusetts, expressed a desire to provide a Sunday morning worship service for residents. Under the leadership and ministry provided by the United Church of Christ in Norwell, Linden Ponds Community Church was created; it is now a financially self-sustaining satellite congregation, having just celebrated their 5-year anniversary.
Rev. Leanne S. Walt, Lead Pastor of the Norwell church, explained that with a $30,000+ investment from UCC Norwell's Community Engagement Fund (a portion of the most recent capital campaign set aside as seed money for community ministries), UCC Norwell was able to support Rev. Deb Spratley, their then Associate Pastor, in leading a Sunday morning worship service at Linden Ponds and providing pastoral care as a chaplain there.
Rev. Deb Spratley had been leading a campus Bible Study at Linden Ponds when the suggestion of a worship service on campus came up. Since the new Community Engagement Fund was designed to fund grants to folks who wanted to take their faith into the community in new ways, it seemed to be a perfect opportunity and what Spratley describes as a “prayerful folding of hands”.
Folks from both UCC Norwell and Linden Ponds wrote a grant proposal to support a worship service, which was then approved. This led to a formal agreement to provide for a chaplain with all the support needed to ensure a successful opportunity to minister within the community, including a relationship with the pastoral ministries manager, office space, and worship space. In 2018 Spratley took on the position of pastor at the Linden Ponds Community Church.
The first service, held in early November 2014, saw a prophetic attendance of 153 worshippers. (It reminded Spratley of John 21:11 and the 153 fish caught by Simon Peter.) Many came from the community who normally attended other local Protestant churches, but who wanted to show their support for on-campus, Sunday morning worship. Over the past 5 years, average attendance has grown from 55 folks to 80 folks on a Sunday. Following the first year, stewardship offerings have fully supported operational expenses with 10% of stewardship being designated for Mission and Outreach.
It was soon obvious to the partners that, despite worshipping in an auditorium setting, those who came to worship wanted to be a “church.” The name, “The Linden Ponds Community Church” (LPCC) was adopted and the mission statement from UCC Norwell was chosen as the mission statement for the new community church: “We are a Christ-centered, inclusive community called to ministry… We embrace the UCC polity that all are welcome.”
Recent discussions explored whether LPCC should become an independent UCC church. The community, whose average age is in the mid 80’s, decided to remain in relationship with UCC Norwell. Spratley remains on staff at UCC Norwell, and all financial records are handled by Norwell’s financial team with input from members of the LPCC. LPCC has been financially self-sustaining since the second year of operation, and they are presently engaged in refining that relationship in terms of finances, membership, governance and sharing opportunities for service and mutual ministry.
Rev. Deacon Christian Beukman, Pastoral Ministries Manager at Linden Ponds, believes that since its inception five years ago, Pastor Deb and the Community Church have been a blessing to those at Linden Ponds.
“It’s the only Church that I know of that prays for inclement weather!!” he joked. “But rain or shine, our Linden Ponds residents have the opportunity every Sunday to hear excellent preaching, thoughtful worship, and outstanding music.”
Beukman also appreciates the pastoral care given by Pastor Deb to those parishioners who are at the end of life, as well as her leadership in scripture study.
“Under Deb's leadership and ministry, Linden Ponds Community Church has become a congregation of Christians committed to engaging in meaningful ministry,” said Walt.
“God is good - all the time!!” Beukman proclaimed.
“The Linden Ponds Community Church offers folks who were raised in church the opportunity to worship together and to be a vital part of what is happening in the world,” said Spratley. “Though their aging bodies may not allow them to do all they used to do, their Spirits are alive and well and yearning to be a part of the Kingdom of God, here on earth.”
You can contact Rev. Leanne Walt at the UCC Norwell church office at 781-659-2887 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Rev. Deborah Spratley at 781.237.8653 or email@example.com, and Rev. Christian Beukman at 1-800-521-5031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.