A congregational meeting was held Sunday, February 4, 2024 as a continuation of the 10 am worship service to approve a merger with the Congregational Church of Weston (CCW). Since passage requires two-thirds of the members of the Wellesley Village Church (WVC) to vote affirmatively, all members were asked to attend either in person or electronically.
All present members, both in person and via Zoom voted affirmatively for the merger!
A little history in preparation of this important vote…
Five years ago, CCW and WVC undertook a brave new initiative to create a partnership that we hoped would benefit both congregations. At that time, CCW was in the midst of a period of membership decline following several years of changing leadership and the uncertainty that change can create. It was clear that CCW no longer had the membership necessary to support all the programs it had in the past, and it did not have the working capital to support a pastor and a full church staff.
WVC, on the other hand, had many robust programs including a unique Pastoral Residency Program that it had recently endowed as a long-tern initiative of the church. While very successful in many ways, the Pastoral Residency Program was facing a growing housing challenge. The rental market in the Boston area had become very expensive. This reality limited the type and number of new graduates from seminary who could afford to apply to the program, since the yearly stipend was not large enough to pay for most area housing options.
Over the past five years, much progress has been made to address the needs of both congregations. CCW has provided its parsonage as free housing for the residents and their partners. This has allowed them to live within easy commuting distance of WVC and allowed their stipend to extend to other living costs. The second-year resident has been given the responsibility of providing spiritual leadership for CCW. While this has benefited the CCW congregations greatly by allowing it to continue to function as a worshipping community without having to hire and financially support a pastor, it has also benefitted the residents by providing them with the experience of being the pastor of a small church, which is likely the kind of church they will be called to serve following their time as a resident. Finally, many of CCW’s administrative functions have been combined to eliminate most of the cost associated with duplicate functions. Between the administrative efficiencies, the savings afforded by no longer having to support a pastor, and the income afforded by the rental of part of the CCW building to the Wellesley Community Children’s Center (WCCC), the short-term CCW budget issues have been eased.
In parallel with the WVC collaboration, the CCW leadership undertook an initiative to repurpose the facilities at 130 Newton Street in Weston from a traditional church building housing a single congregation, to a multipurpose worshipping and community outreach center. There are now six worshipping communities using the facilities. More importantly, CCW developed a plan to (1) provide a place for community forums to discuss issues that are socially relevant to the region but often difficult to discuss with our neighbors; (2) provide a place for groups to study and learn about current important societal issues; and (3) provide a place to hold classes, house retreats, and organize hands-on service projects spawned by the study and community discussion the center hosts.
The merger between WVC and CCW will incorporate the following beneficial aspects for both congregations:
- The CCW community will continue to worship in Weston, led and supported by the Pastoral Residents. Pastoral Residents will continue to have the option of living in the Weston parsonage throughout their residency. All members of CCW will become members of WVC.
- The Weston campus will become home to a new “Interfaith Center for Worship, Learning, and Service.” We are in the process of hiring a part-time Center Director to lead this new endeavor, under the care and supervision of a steering board/committee.
- The name of the combined entity will, outside of legal documents, be known as “Village Church”. The CCW campus at 130 Newton Street will be known as Village Church in Weston, and the campus at 2 Central Steet will be known as Village Church in Wellesley. Legally and officially, the entity will continue under the name “Wellesley Congregational Church.” We believe that the Village Church name signifies the theology and hope shared by both congregations that our church would be a central place of care, growth, and home.
- All of CCW’s property and financial assets, including the parsonage, the church property, and the financial reserves, will be owned by the new entity, legally the Wellesley Congregational Church, and managed in accordance with its Articles of Organization and bylaws. The assessed value of CCW’s properties is approximately $3.5 million. There will be no CCW debt at the merger with small, restricted funds and a small endowment being transferred to the WVC’s accounts.
- The CCW-Village Church task force (Paul Schendel, Rev. Martha Schick, and Chris Paquin from CCW and John Snyder, Joe Murray, and Jim Mongiardo from WVC) will continue to work out administrative details of the merger.
The Articles of Merger
- CCW-WVC Agreement of Merger >
- Articles of Merger Form >
- WVC – CCW Memorandum of Understanding >
- Motion to Approve Merger >
We encouraged all members to carefully consider their merger vote and be present either in person or electronically to cast their vote.