History of the Church

Cuttyhunk Church circa 1904, courtesy of the Cuttyhunk Historical Society
Cuttyhunk Church circa 1904, courtesy of the Cuttyhunk Historical Society

Cuttyhunk Union Methodist Church was founded in 1881. It opened with a dedication and dinner served under a tent in July of that year. Rev. John S. Bell, a Methodist, was the first minister of the church. His salary was $3.00 per service plus board. The church has been in continuous service since that time. The bass weather vane was created by islander, Steve Baldwin, in 1971. Land was given and the parsonage was built by Millard and Olga Ashley in 1957. It is used by the Cuttyhunk school teacher during the winter months.

In the 1960s, in addition to the Sunday evening worship service, an Episcopal service was started. Beginning in 1967 a Catholic priest flew in regularly by sea plane and conducted a Mass in the church, assisted by the United Methodist clergy.

In 2006, the church celebrated its 125th anniversary! “Honoring the Past – Preparing for the Future” is the theme of the anniversary year. During the summer there were special worship services honoring the Episcopal, Roman Catholic and United Methodist connections. The Episcopal Bishop of Massachusetts, the United Methodist Bishop of New England and a Roman Catholic priest visited the island to help the church recognize, celebrate and honor our past. As a part of this summer’s celebration, an old fashioned pot luck church supper was held outdoors on a beautiful summer evening and many church families and island residents came to celebrate with us. The August 21 Annual Church meeting solidly supported the Campaign to “prepare for the future” and to support the Trustee’s plans to restore and preserve the historic church building on Cuttyhunk Island. The church parsonage was named “The Ward Parsonage” in honor of Carmen and John Ward, pastor of the church for thirty-three years. The Musicale’s “Island Cruisers” dedicated one of their numbers, “Home on the Range,” in honor of John’s Kansas Days.