Edwards Church began in 1833. It was called the Edwards Society and was started primarily by some of the younger people from the First Church of Northampton. The First Church had grown to over 700 members and was straining the resources of the current pastor. Ninety nine parishioners struck out to start a new church with the good wishes of their parent church. The First Church showed its love for the new church by giving them a silver communion serving set. It was presented to the Edwards Society in 1834 and is the same communion silver we still use every month.
The first pastor of the Edwards Society was John Todd. He and the first congregants began the process of building the new church, both its spirit and its meeting place. Before long, the church grew to where it had a Sunday school with nearly 125 children. The church needed 19 teachers to handle all the children.
And so began Edwards Church. We have been through many changes since that time. Each new pastor has brought a different perspective, and the church has often reflected the times in which it found itself.
The Edwards Church you see at 297 Main Street is the third building to house its congregation. The first Edwards Church building was across the street from First Church. It was built on the corner of Old South St. and Main St., next to where Thorne’s Marketplace is today. But in May of 1870 the church was lost to fire. The Hunt Building next to the church caught fire and took the church to the ground with it. The building of a new church started later that year, but in a new location. This church was built of stone and was a stately and imposing edifice on the corner of State and Main Streets.
Around 1950, a group was formed to look into whether the church should be renovated or rebuilt. Over 80 years had gone by and the building needed significant work. When estimates came in, the margin was so close that it was an easy decision for the congregation to build a new church. And so they did. The first service held in the new, and not quite finished, church was Christmas Eve in 1958.
Many things have changed since the Edwards Society began. We have been the church for Calvin Coolidge and his family. We have watched Main Street in Northampton change from a center of industry to the eclectic town of today. During the life of Edwards Church we have seen dirt streets become water canals, which became trolley tracks and then paved roads. Through it all, we have remained an inviting church to all who seek to find God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Our great glass wall covered with crosses allows all in our community to look in and see who we are, and allows us to look out and be reminded that our calling is to go out and help our community as Jesus would ask us to do.