By DON FOWLER
Rev. William A. (Bill) Sterrett served as pastor of Amiable Congregational Church UCC in Tiverton for the past 33 years before retiring on March 1, 2021. He previously served as a minister in Germany where he met and married his wife, Barbarian.
After ten months of retirement, Bill decided he couldn’t sit still without pursuing “what God has planned for me.”
Meanwhile, Edgewood Congregational Church was grappling with a loss of members, much like what most churches were facing during the pandemic. The church was without a pastor and faced financial difficulties, only being able to afford part-time ministries. Currently, the number of members is reduced to about 30 parishioners. A few endowments and rent have kept the church going, but at present they cannot afford a full-time minister.
The small group of dedicated church members were determined to keep the church going – convinced that it served an important purpose in the community and was far too important to be lost.
Reverend Sterrett and members of the Deacons met and quickly discovered that they had a common goal of finding new ways to serve the great communities of Edgewood.
Bill was hired as a “part-time” pastor and immediately got to work on January 1, leading Sunday services and working with church leaders to discover new ways to serve his members and the community by expansion.
“One of the ‘gifts’ of the Covid-19 pandemic has been a growing understanding of the importance of ‘presence’,” Reverend Sterrett said. “How important it is to be together, in person, with other people.”
“We miss the hugs from family and friends, the handshakes and the conversations enhanced by the little facial expressions missed via Zoom. I personally discovered how dependent I was on these face-to-face interactions.
Church members and Reverend Sterrett gather to brainstorm ideas on expanding the church’s larger role in the community.
“I am so grateful to Edgewood Church for giving me the opportunity to return to pastoral ministry, albeit on a part-time basis,” Reverend Sterrett said. “Even at the start of my time at Edgewood, I am excited about the ministries this small group of people are involved in and their commitment to service to the community.”
Edgewood Church opened to share worship space with two other churches.
For years it hosted AA, AlAnon and NA groups. They sponsor two active scout and boy scout troops who meet weekly in the church hall.
A local artist rents space, and the Rhode Island Chess Club recently took up residence in the building.
The church has a thrift store that has expanded into a larger space than many thrift stores that offers clothing, kitchenware, sundries, tools, gift items and a host of other items. items at intentionally low prices, making it very popular for low-income neighbors. amazing business.
Church members have been strong supporters of Project Outreach, as well as those who use church space, contributing weekly to the local pantry at the nearby Church of the Transfiguration.
For many years, the education wing housed the daycare. The building is now used as a music school.
Annual May breakfasts, Christmas bazaars, animal blessings, garage sales and other programs are popular community events.
“While the national decline in church attendance has had a strong negative effect on Edgewood Church, its members remain strongly committed to finding new ways to serve Edgewood’s larger communities, Cranston and Rhode Island,” Sterrett said.
“While my initial task will be to build relationships with current members and friends of Edgewood Church, it will also be important for me to help Edgewood members and friends discover the next phase of service to which they are called.”
“Through prayer, conversation, and attentive listening, I intend to help build a sense of community, both in Edgewood Church and in the wider community, as we seek together to share God’s unconditional love with the world around us.”
Sterrett mentioned that membership in many churches in the region and nationally has declined in recent years, but Sterrett and church leaders are confident that membership will grow as the church grows. find ways to be more relevant in the community.
The church is located at 1788 Broad St., Cranston.
The church also has a website at www.edgewoodchurchri.org.
The church’s invitation is printed on all its literature: “No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.”