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Union United Methodist Church - National Fund For Sacred Places
2022 Cohort

Union United Methodist Church

Boston, Massachusetts

Union United Methodist Church in Boston is the oldest Black congregation in New England Methodism and believed to be the first historically Black Methodist congregation in the United States to welcome the LGBTQ community.

Union UMC by Rev. Dr. Jay Williams

Union UMC by Rev. Dr. Jay Williams

2022 Cohort

Union United Methodist Church

Boston, Massachusetts

Union United Methodist Church in Boston is the oldest Black congregation in New England Methodism and believed to be the first historically Black Methodist congregation in the United States to welcome the LGBTQ community.

The congregation began in 1796 as a segregated enclave of a white church before independently forming under the leadership of Reverend Samuel Snowden, a formerly enslaved abolitionist, in 1818. In 1949, the church rebranded as Union UMC and relocated into an 1872 church building designed by prominent architect Alexander Rice Esty in Boston’s South End. Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, a leading Black educator and presidential advisor, was the keynote speaker at the celebration of this move. From this location, Union UMC has continued a long history of abolition and civil rights work, including hosting the NAACP convention that voted to pursue Brown v. Board of Education and voting in 2000 to fully welcome LGBTQ individuals.

Union UMC remains a majority Black church but is becoming increasingly multicultural as membership grows. With the surrounding neighborhood experiencing gentrification, the congregation is proud to advocate for the “most marginalized and vulnerable” while standing at the “intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, and ability.” Union UMC offers free space to a food pantry, youth groups, and LGBTQ service organizations, and utilizes the parsonage as affordable housing for BIPOC seminarians.

Union UMC will receive a National Fund grant of $200,000 with $400,000 in matching funds raised by the congregation towards a multi-decade renovation project. The congregation successfully completed exterior life safety and accessibility work in 2021 and now turns its attention towards stabilizing and waterproofing the building, including replacing the roof and upgrading drainage systems. The Mayor of Boston, Michelle Wu, publicly supports this project and Union UMC’s ongoing role as a community asset.

Union UMC by Lolita Parker

Union UMC by Rev. Dr. Jay Williams

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