History of Beacon of Hope Church

History: First and Wesley, now Beacon of Hope

The history of the Beacon of Hope United Methodist Church in Framingham can be traced back through the lineage of two churches: First United Methodist Church in North Framingham and Wesley Church in South Framingham.

First United Methodist Church was founded in 1793 with 7 members representing just three families. These members held classes that remained small but active in Saxonville village. Bishop Asbury, of these early years, noted that the First Methodist Church was "a society full of tenderness, sweetness, and love."

First Church always had been in the North part of Framingham but the actual building location changed quite a few times. Our first building was north of Saxonville on Potter Road. This building was then moved to Church Street (otherwise known as Fuller Street) and then to the corner of Elm and Concord. The church then built a new building in Saxonville. This was First's home for 81 years. This church building is now used by the Seventh Day Adventist Church, a testament to fine construction and the giving Methodist spirit creating a new legacy and space for others to worship.

In the early 1960s, First Church made its move to the current home at the intersection of Brook and Water Streets. Apparently, this location was selected due to a church fair sewing workshop and a comment made by one of the women. In all of First Church's homes, this blessing has held true: "may it be ever filled with the glory of the Lord. Yes, may it provide to be a house of God in very deed."

Wesley Methodist Church began as the First Society of Methodists in South Framingham with 20 men and women in 1869. This was when Framingham and South Framingham were two distinct towns. Wesley then became the Irving Street Methodist Episcopal Church in the late 1800s. Notably, at the Irving Street location, there was a Chinese Sunday School run for local laundrymen. Each man had his own teacher. Then, the church was renamed the First Methodist Episcopal Church of South Framingham and in 1915, it moved to a new building on Lincoln Street and Concord Street.

In 1919, because of a town name change, it became Wesley Methodist Church. In 1944, Rev. Lemuel Lord prayed for Wesley: "We ask the prayers of our people for God's Will to be done with His Church. May His will be done with and in each of us." In 1966, Wesley moved to 80 Beacon Street. At the time, Bishop Mathews said, "It is said that every generation of Christians should have an opportunity to build a church. This privilege has now come to Methodists in Framingham and I congratulate them on the prospect. In building a church, it is possible to become the church in a new sense. It need not, then, be merely a back-breaking financial burden but should be an experience in the meaning of Christian life. It can be a way of loving God and our neighbor, of serving the community, and offering abundant life in Christ to our fellow men. May God bless you and guide you throughout this undertaking."

In 1989, a fire destroyed the education wing and there was smoke damage throughout the building. The community came together and supported our continuing worship and renovations. After extensive prayer and study, the congregation decided that the rebuilding plans should include more space for Sunday School and social interaction. Pastor Charles Tilton, in an open letter to Wesley Church during a contribution campaign, noted "The plan is to help make our Church a great servant of this community and of the world."

When Wesley Methodist Church moved to Beacon Street just a mile away from First United Methodist Church's location at Brook and Water Streets, discussions of a merger began to occur. Though these initial conversations didn't result in a merger, there was a spirit of cooperation and joint activities between the two churches.

Over the years, the combined church family worked on Vacation Bible School programs. We led mission trips together. Family Promise activities were jointly run. We held joint in-person worship services over the years and worshipped together during the pandemic. We prayed together and we studied together through small groups. The Faith in Food ministry was supported by both churches.

Our present church, Beacon of Hope, is built on all these experiences and on our past. And our future is being created by us right now from the legacies and the people that came before us. We honor all of those people and we honor the churches by together working hand in hand, arm in arm, remaining a "society full of sweetness, tenderness and love" and being "great servants to this community and to the world."

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