Monday, November 9, 2015

Franklin Federated Church launching $500,000 restoration campaign

Historic buildings to get needed repairs, better accessibility
The Franklin Federated Church will launch a $500,000 capital campaign in November aimed at funding substantial repairs and updates to the church's historic buildings.

The campaign: Restoring our Church, Building our Future, will officially kick off with a celebration event at the church at 171 Main St. on Sunday, Nov. 15, at 10 AM. A festive worship service will be followed by activities throughout the church building, including a family photo booth with props, tours of the church, a variety of food and more. Anyone in the community is warmly invited to attend.

The 300-member Franklin Federated Church has an active worship life and Christian Education program and its members and friends participate in a variety of small groups – from movie, book and art groups to a youth group and two women's groups. The congregation is a Welcoming and Affirming congregation, meaning that all people are invited to be a part of the mission and ministry of the church.

The congregation supports organizations locally and around the world, such as the Franklin Food Pantry, the Santa Foundation, New Hope, the Boston Grow Clinic and Church World Service. The church also hosts a variety of organizations in its building: Meals on Wheels uses the kitchen, Temple Etz Chaim uses the sanctuary for high holidays, and the Girl Scouts and other organizations meet within its walls. The congregation also mentors a student pastor from Andover Newton Theological School each year.

The Franklin Federated Church became "federated" in 1941 when the First Congregational Church and the First Baptist Church came together as one. The two congregations began worshiping together after the hurricane of 1938 destroyed the First Baptist Church's building on School Street.

The First Congregational Church's history is entwined with the town's founding. The church was formed in 1738, when it broke off from the Congregational Church of Wrentham. This effectively marked the beginning of the Town of Franklin, which had previously been considered the West Precinct of Wrentham.

The current church building, constructed in 1895, features a sanctuary with a high vaulted ceiling, exposed wooden beams and large stained glass windows. The church building needs substantial work to repair damage from age and the elements, and to improve the accessibility and functionality of the space.  Some necessary improvements include replacement of the heating system, work to both roof and foundation to stop the incursion of water, and the installation of upgraded fire safety and electrical systems. The parsonage, which sits next to the church and which was built in 1868, is also in need of new heating and drainage systems. The parsonage houses the pastor, Rev. Charley Eastman, and his family.

 "Our spiritual home represents more than a Christian church structure.  It is a tangible symbol of Franklin's history; a place to find fellowship and God waiting for our hopes, celebrations, concerns and cares," said Tom Pfeifle, a member of the church and co-chair of the campaign.

Franklin Federated Church
Franklin Federated Church

The church voted unanimously on Sept. 27 to undertake the campaign, after a feasibility study projected that the church can raise $500,000 over the next three years. Each person pledging to the campaign will also be invited to dedicate a portion of that pledge to the RESEPCT program of New Hope, whose mission is to end domestic violence in 54 communities, including Franklin. The RESPECT program works to hold individuals accountable for their abusive behaviors and to help them learn non-violent communication skills.

"As we restore our home, we will also help to restore families through the New Hope RESPECT program," Pfeifle said.

Franklin Federated Church is affiliated with the United Church of Christ and the American Baptist Churches, USA.

For more information, contact the campaign co-chairs: Allen Sawyer, or 508-346-3120; and Tom Pfeifle, or 857 362 2935.

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