“The membership of the Day Street Church is composed of kindly, genial folk, who are religious in a quiet, cheerful way, and evermore benevolent, and in all ways charitable. No one need ever feel the world is cold or life is dreary who enters this comfortable Christian atmosphere.”
—from Somerville, Past and Present: An Illustrated Historical Souvenir (1897)
First Church Somerville has been a melting pot of faith and a haven of spiritual warmth since its beginnings in the mid 1800s. Our historic building has provided a new home for several churches in Somerville and Cambridge that faced closure, and represents a long history of outreach to the people of Davis Square and beyond.
The original First Congregational Church of Somerville (also known as the Franklin Street Church) was founded in 1853. Like many urban mainline Protestant churches, its fortunes rose and fell with the changing demographics and culture shifts of the twentieth century. In 1963, a reduced membership decided to merge with the West Somerville Congregational Church, bringing the rose window that still graces our sanctuary. West Somerville Congregational (also known as the Day Street Church) was organized in 1874; in 1912, it moved to our present location at the corner of College and Francesca Avenues. The building’s cornerstone was dedicated with the words: “May its doors be open to all points of the compass and its service extend to all peoples.” West Somerville Congregational became especially well known for its successful Sunday school programs and its missionary efforts. However, in the latter half of the twentieth century, it, too, faced a dwindling membership. By the early 2000s, the merged First Church had only about 50 members left, with few young people to carry the church forward.
150 years after Congregationalists ordained the first woman minister in the United States, First Church Somerville called Rev. Molly Phinney Baskette as our pastor (joined by Associate Pastor Rev. Jeff Mansfield in 2011). The church has been growing ever since—in spirit and in numbers, quintupling in attendance since Rev. Molly’s installation in 2003. In 2012, during the building’s centennial, the membership launched an ambitious capital campaign for renovations, to accommodate our recent growth and preserve the church for future generations.
In January 2016, Molly left for a Call in Berkeley, and we welcomed Rev. Henry Schoenfield as our Interim Lead Pastor. We are excited to explore together the new places God is calling us together.