Cuttyhunk Union Methodist Church

Cuttyhunk Church circa 1904, courtesy of the Cuttyhunk Historical Society
Cuttyhunk Church circa 1904,
courtesy of the Cuttyhunk Historical Society


Cuttyhunk Union Methodist Church was founded in 1881. It opened with a dedication and dinner served under a tent in July of that year. Rev. John S. Bell, a Methodist, was the first minister of the church. His salary was $3.00 per service plus board. The church has been in continuous service since that time. The bass weather vane was created by islander, Steve Baldwin, in 1971. Land was given and the parsonage was built by Millard and Olga Ashley in 1957. It is used by the Cuttyhunk school teacher during the winter months.
In the 1960s, in addition to the Sunday evening worship service, an Episcopal service was started. Beginning in 1967 a Catholic priest flew in regularly by sea plane and conducted a Mass in the church, assisted by the United Methodist clergy.

About the Church

The church is open on a seasonal basis during July and August. It is truly interfaith, with an Episcopal Eucharist at 8 a.m., a Roman Catholic service at 9 a.m., and Sunday School at 10 a.m. A popular hymn sing begins the Sunday evening vespers at 7:45. The pressed tin walls and ceiling add a dimension to the voices of people who love to sing, providing uplifting and inspiring memories. The church bell calls people to gather fifteen minutes before each service and can be heard all over the island.

The church building is used by a variety of religious and community groups including weddings, baptisms, memorial services, AA and Al-Anon, Cuttyhunk Historical Society events, the Cruisers Community Chorus and other island events.

The magnificent quahog mosaics in the front of the sanctuary are by island artist, Manuel Sarmento (1906-1986). They depict the Madonna and St. Francis of Assisi. The brass and driftwood cross on the altar was built by Wally Ketchum.

125th Anniversary

In 2006, the church celebrated its 125th anniversary! “Honoring the Past – Preparing for the Future” is the theme of the anniversary year. During the summer there were special worship services honoring the Episcopal, Roman Catholic and United Methodist connections. The Episcopal Bishop of Massachusetts, the United Methodist Bishop of New England and a Roman Catholic priest visited the island to help the church recognize, celebrate and honor our past. As a part of this summer's celebration, an old fashioned pot luck church supper was held outdoors on a beautiful summer evening and many church families and island residents came to celebrate with us. The August 21 Annual Church meeting solidly supported the Campaign to “prepare for the future” and to support the Trustee's plans to restore and preserve the historic church building on Cuttyhunk Island. The church parsonage was named “The Ward Parsonage” in honor of Carmen and John Ward, pastor of the church for thirty-three years. The Musicale's “Island Cruisers” dedicated one of their numbers, “Home on the Range,” in honor of John's Kansas Days..

The Cuttyhunk Church History Board compiled by the Cuttyhunk Historical Scoiety in recognition
of the Church's celebration of 125 years of services on the Island (Mary Todd)

The Cuttyhunk Historical Society has posted a 125th Anniversary Monograph written by Louise Garfield Bachler.
Click here to read.