FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Union Combined Parish forms to expand ministry of love and justice in Greater Boston 

Four United Methodist churches join together in a first of its kind merger

BOSTON — Today, four United Methodist churches in the Greater Boston area announced their merger and the formation of the Union Combined Parish. As a multi-site congregation, the Parish is committed to transformational worship, compassionate service, and intersectional justice. The Parish unites the historic Union Church in the South End, Old West Church in the West End, Community Church in Boston’s Brighton neighborhood, and Glendale Church in the City of Everett. With four sanctuaries and three residences, this first of its kind merger marks the renewal of United Methodist ministry and mission, particularly in seeking housing and food justice.

“This merger will allow us to deepen our commitments to collective flourishing, racial equity, and the work of liberation in a responsible and replicable way,” said Lead Pastor Rev. Dr. Jay Williams. “By combining resources, we will be able to better meet the needs of our neighbors, from worship to community building to providing affordable housing to feeding people.”

Home + Table

The Union Combined Parish’s flagship initiative, Home + Table, is already addressing housing and food insecurity in the Greater Boston area. The Hilda Evans House in Roxbury, formerly the Union Church pastor’s residence, has affordably housed African and African American seminarians since September 2021, in partnership with the Boston University School of Theology. In September 2023, the Parish opened its second affordable student residence at its parsonage in Brighton. In the West End, the Food Forest at Old West Church continues to grow food for neighbors, as it has done since 2015 with the Boston Food Forest Coalition. The Parish’s leadership intends to replicate this at other locations. 

“The prophet Jeremiah teaches us to seek the welfare of the city, and Isaiah calls us to be ‘repairers of the breach, restorers of streets to live in.’  The roots of our faith are justice, equity, and community care,” said Executive Pastor Rev. Dr. Sara Garrard. “Through the Home + Table initiative and with our combined resources, we’ll be able to meet the needs of our communities like never before. Taking care of those around us is who we are and who we are called to be.”  The Parish — which co-presents Boston’s 54th Annual MLK Memorial Breakfast on Monday, January 15, 2024 — is currently working with state officials and local not-for-profits to open its Everett residence as a temporary shelter for unhoused individuals amidst the dual migrant and housing crises.

Worship and Leadership

For those seeking a vibrant and inclusive church home, the Union Combined Parish continues to offer transformational and inspirational worship. Rooted in gospel music and Black church traditions, Union gathers every Sunday in person and online to experience God’s presence and proclaim Christ’s love and liberation. “The doors of the Parish are open wide,” said Discipleship Pastor Rev. Kyle Walden. “At Union, we’re family! This means that everyone is welcome to be their full, Divinely-created selves as we all seek to grow.” To continue serving members and our neighbors, the Parish has brought together an expanded clergy and laity team, including retired clergy, seminarians, and lay experts from various professions. Faith and leadership formation is central to our commitment.

While a quarter of U.S. congregations have left The United Methodist Church, the Parish will continue to celebrate diversity and empower LGBTQ+ persons as a historically Black and contemporarily multicultural United Methodist church. Bishop Peggy A. Johnson, the episcopal leader of the New England Conference of The United Methodist Church, (a connection of 550 churches throughout Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, and eastern Connecticut), is excited about this trailblazing ministry. “I am delighted to bless the formation of the Union Combined Parish,” said Bishop Johnson. “Collaboration and shared ministry is the future for United Methodism and again Union is leading the way.” In 2000, Union Church was the first Black United Methodist congregation to become “reconciling,” fully welcoming of LGBTQ+ persons in the life and leadership of the church.

The Union Combined Parish is grounded in being the church—living out core values of love and service in a radical, transformative, and sustainable way. For more information about the Parish, visit unionboston.org/parish.

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Press Contact

Union Combined Parish

office@unionboston.org

(617) 536-0872