Go Tell It On the Mountain: Walpole Church Building for the Future

Go Tell It On the Mountain: Walpole Church Building for the Future

In another episode of Go Tell it On The Mountain, Executive Conference Minister the Rev. Darrell Goodwin interviewed the Rev. Anna Flowers, Pastor of United Church in Walpole, in anticipation of his taking part in a special celebration at the church on Sunday, April 24.

"It's a huge Sunday for us in the life of our history as a congregation, because we are launching a $3.5 million capital campaign, which seems like an insane amount of money for a church our size," Rev. Flowers said. "But we're believing in ourselves, we're dreaming big, we're working with some phenomenal folks who are helping us out to make this a reality. And we are renovating our church for the future."

Rev. Flowers said when she came to the church six years ago, a building project was not on her mind. But then the church's roof caved in. 

"There were some sleepless nights a few years ago, I'll be honest, where it was like: man, is it worth it to put so much money into this old building?  Would it be cheaper to sell and go find some storefront somewhere?" she said. "But what we realized is, number one, the people of our community love our building. It's so historic and beautiful, and it means so much to our membership. But also, number two, it is the heart of Walpole. And if we are going to be a church FOR Walpole, not just IN Walpole, but FOR Walpole - that church of the neighborhood - then we would be fools to give up our footprint in that neighborhood. And so we are going all in to invest in the future of our life, right in the heart of Walpole."

Rev Flowers said the project is giving the church an avenue to bring in partners from the community, including a daycare provider and a local baker who wants to start her business in the kitchen. They also will provide spaces for people who want to have family celebrations.

"We just want to be a place of life and love and hope and gathering for people within our church and beyond our church. And we're excited to make that happen this year," she said.

Rev. Goodwin mentioned that standing on the past, but building with the future in mind, is exactly the theme for this year's Southern New England Conference Annual Meeting, taking place online on June 18. Rev. Patrick Duggan, Executive Director of the Church Building & Loan Fund of the United Church of Christ, will be speaking to that topic and leading a breakout discussion.

"Our Annual Meeting speaker is talking about everything you just said: this sense of what is the entrepreneurial work of the church for this day and this hour, how do you take the historicity that's already existed in Walpole, but then build for now and into the future?  And so much of that is going to be about how you invest in your local community, how you empower small businesses, how you create this sacred space that people see it not only is a place that you just come to on Sunday morning, but that you might find the church burgeoning with life all week," he said.

Rev. Flowers agreed, and said she will be a keynote speaker at the Church Building and Loan Fund conference in September talking about the project.

"I think one of the big lessons that we have tried to take to heart is we're not just going to sit in what our ancestors built and do nothing. We are going to embody the spirit that they had when they built it. And in the, in the case of our church: our church is 300 years old. This is not the original building. They worked on it. They tore down other buildings. They merged with churches. They split up. They have had a long and storied history of changing their structure and changing their buildings to match the moment. And we are just continuing that legacy," she said.

Worship is in person and online at United Church in Walpole at 10 AM on Sunday. Information can be found on the church website. 

Watch the conversation here:

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