Friday, 16 April 2010

Researched and written by Jack Falk

Our church property is located at 1788-1802 Broad Street in Cranston, Rhode Island. The bordering streets of the church are Albert Avenue and Arnold Avenue. They are named for Professor Albert N. Arnold (1814-1883). Dr. Arnold was a Professor at the Baptist Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois and a missionary to Greece for 12 years. He was the son of Nicholas Arnold and was born on the Arnold family farm on Broad Street. Dr. Arnold was a graduate of Brown University, Class of 1823.

In 1891 the Edgewood neighborhood was primarily a “summer seashore resort”. The summer residents began expressing a desire for religious services and they began conducting worship services in their homes. On November 8, 1891 the first public service was held in the Edgewood Casino on Shaw Avenue in Cranston with an attendance of 110. On New Year's Eve, 1891, the first Sunday School was held in the home of George R. and Angenetta M. Babbitt on Shaw Avenue.

George Rodney Babbitt (1842-1912), President and Treasurer of American Oil Co. and his wife Angenetta are due the honor of interesting Edgewood residents in the need for a Congregational Church. At one time they were part owners of the whole of Shaw Avenue. Their residence to this day is a private residence on Shaw Avenue.

Edgewood Congregational Church was organized under two separate and distinct bodies. The first was the Edgewood Congregational Society whose charter of incorporation was granted in 1892. It was to be the legal head, to hold the charter and be responsible for the temporal concerns of the organization. The first recorded minutes of the Society was on October 27th, 1891, when George R. Babbitt contacts Union Congregational Church on steps to be taken for starting a church and is referred to the Rhode Island Home Missionary Society, which handles new church starts for the Congregational Churches. A loan of $3500 is obtained and a cornerstone laid in 1901.

The Edgewood Congregational Society continued until February 5, 1918 when it was decided they relinquish all claims to any and all property and real estate held by the Society to the Board of Trustees of the Edgewood Congregational Church.

Edgewood Congregational Church was incorporated in 1898 as the spiritual body of the church. It was on November 5, 1894 that 31 persons, 24 women and 7 men, came together under the leadership of our first pastor, William J. Murphy, to formally organize the Edgewood Congregational Church. This was the culmination of three years of meetings in homes and the organization of the Sunday School and the Ladies Good Will Society.

The cornerstone of the new $13,000 brick edifice was laid on September 12, 1901. In 1923 changes and additions were completed, including the Arnold Avenue wing. Disaster struck on Sunday afternoon, February 24, 1946; a fire completely destroyed the sanctuary and caused extensive damage to the rest of the building. Regular worship services were held in the Harmony Lodge and the Church of the Transfiguration. The new sanctuary was dedicated in January 1950 with other parts of the building not being completed until 1954. In 1966 the church was enlarged, a cupola was added and the enclosed connector was built.

In the one hundred nineteen year period of worship, fellowship and service, over 2,000 people have been received into membership and the church has had 16 settled ministers:
Our History
Name From To
William Johnstone Murphy  06/01/1894  06/01/1895
Daniel Temple Torrey  09/01/1895  12/01/1898
Albert Scott Hawkes  09/01/1900  05/28/1904
Merritt Augustus Farren  11/15/1905  01/31/1907
John Hale Larry  09/01/1907  06/27/1916
Henry Burnham Kirkland  04/15/1917  02/01/1919
M. Raymond Plumb (Longest Service)  04/20/1919  09/30/1940
Horace Martin McMullen  01/01/1941  09/01/1947
Earl E. G. Linden  11/16/1947  09/01/1956
Frederick Andrew Momenthy  11/27/1960  08/24/1968
Stephen D. Gilbert  05/19/1969  10/03/1971
William E. Downey (as Interim Minister)  11/01/1971  03/05/1972
William E. Downey (as Co-Pastor)  03/05/1972  05/??/1977
Sabine G. Downey (as Co-Pastor)  03/05/1972  05/??/1977
Christopher Wilke  01/01/1978  01/10/1991
Bary Richard Fleet (as Interim Minister)  01/07/1991  04/19/1992
Bary Richard Fleet  08/02/1992  03/01/2009
Leigh McCaffrey  11/07/2010  02/26/2012
Gary W. Bagley  12/01/2012  12/26/2017