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Worshipping in Tyngsboro Since 1868

October 10, 2018

Above: Alan Frink and New Beginnings sing at a concert celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Evangelical Congregational Church in Tyngsboro. From left are Barry Shirk, his wife Debbie and Frink. Below: The congregation listens to Frink's group inside the Old Tyngsboro Town Hall, where the church held its first service in 1868. In front is the Rev. Denis Frediani, pastor of the church, and his wife Joann. SUN photos/David H. Brow Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

TYNGSBORO -- Melodic male and female voices filled the corners of Old Town Hall on Sunday afternoon.

“I’m going to trust Him like I shouuuld,” the Needhams, a Christian music group, sang. “I’m in the middle of a miracle.”

Close to 50 parishioners of the Evangelical Congregational Church of Tyngsboro took in their message. A few standing in the back of the hall swayed to the music and clapped their hands in praise. Others, like Connie Kinney, tapped their feet from their seats -- not far from tables with complimentary water bottles and stacked Bibles.

“I think it’s incredible that it’s been here all these years and been a testimony to the community,” Kinney, of Nashua, said about the church turning 150 years old.

The free concert Sunday followed a church service and soup & sandwich potluck. Together they formed one of the final major installments of the church’s 150th anniversary celebration.

“It’s just a privilege to serve (the community) in Jesus’ name for 150 years in a lot of ways -- clothing, food. Especially on the holidays, we do Christmas meals and Thanksgiving meals,” said the Rev. Denis Frediani, the church’s pastor. “But also in the process of sharing the Gospel, of the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. That’s why we’re here primarily.”

The historic Old Town Hall at 10 Kendall Road is where, on April 7, 1868, the church was organized with a membership of 23.

Frediani said the actual church at 23 Kendall Road was built between March and October of that year.

“Somewhere we still have the actual cost for that... what it cost. It’s hilarious,” said Frediani, adding that he believed the total to build the church was around $7,500.

At the time, Frediani said, there was a lot of sweat equity behind the construction of the Evangelical Congregational Church of Tyngsboro. People donated labor and lumber, and many cut trees nearby themselves.

“It was just exciting,” Frediani said. “We hope to catch that excitement again... for 150 years, a lot of churches struggled but we’re actually, I think, doing better than we have in a number of years.”

Still, there are challenges. Frediani said it’s been difficult to bring in younger people to the congregation and one of the bigger struggles has been having to say goodbye to members who have passed on.

“You always want to see your church grow both spiritually and numerically,” said John Lethbridge, a deacon and a parishioner. “We here in New England -- and I don’t know whether it’s across the rest of the country -- but we’re fighting the battles with children having sports on Sunday morning. There’s the conflict between ‘Do you bring your kids to church?’ or ‘Do you bring them to their soccer game?’ Obviously we’d like to see them at church. We would like to see the soccer schedule changed.”

Lethbridge, of Tyngsboro, added it’s “pretty phenomenal” to see the church turn 150.

Joan Field, a parishioner who also served as a member of the 150th Committee Team along with about nine other people, said she was pleased with the musical service that morning.

“The spirit of the Lord was there, you know? The spirit of the Lord just filled that church,” Field said. “I’ve only been here for about eight years, but I feel like I’m home.”

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