Tucked around a small side street in Graniteville is the United Methodist Church of Westford. Founded in 1871, the UMC of Westford is one of the oldest religious institutions in town.
Reverend Dr. Wayne Kendall, who first took over at the church in 1993 before retiring in 2005, returned several months ago on an interim basis.
The church, with a membership reaching nearly 700 people, has grown considerably since Kendall’s first tenure as pastor of the church. Kendall said that growth has stagnated in recent years because of numerous shakeups in the church.
“In the last few years it hasn’t grown much simply because there hasn’t been a person who has stayed here a long period of time,” Kendall said. Average Sunday worship is roughly 200 people.
With nearly a dozen religious institutions in Westford, Kendall said that the institutions in town try to work together in the interfaith community.
“I think that the churches of Westford are equal in their relationship of being together,” Kendall said. “There are some different theological perspective, but as far as our values we’re pretty equal. We don’t try to rise above anybody else.”
Unlike other churches which hire pastors and other clergy, the Methodist church chooses pastors from within its own organization after a vetting process by one of the churches bishops.
There is one bishop for the New England region.
“Some of the styles of doing things are a little different,” Kendall said. “For example; a Baptist church will seek and hire a new pastor where a Methodist church doesn’t do that. The Methodist church is an organization that spreads across the United States and the world, but it’s called a conference. Each area has a bishop and the bishops select the pastors for the churches.”
More information about the United Methodist Church of Westford is available on their website.