WINTHROP — The Winthrop Congregational Church has come a long way from its early days, in the 1770s, when parishioners met at a tavern in what is now downtown Winthrop.

They met in different spaces until 1905, when they began worshiping in the building at 10 Bowdoin St. that still houses the congregation. But the building is showing its age and has been particularly vulnerable to the elements in recent years.

Windows are falling out of the bell tower, leaks have been forming in the roof, and the “S” recently fell off its tilting weather vane, landing in a garden, said the Rev. Chrissy Cataldo.

Now church leaders hope to complete several projects that would protect the century-old building from further damage. Besides replacing the windows and weatherproofing the bell tower, they hope to install a plywood deck on the roof and replace the shingles that have fallen off.

Inside the church, they would like to repair water damage that has formed on the sanctuary ceiling and renovate the front lobby.

To complete the projects, the church has raised $32,092, which is about 70 percent of the $45,000 that’s needed. It’s now asking the public to push the campaign past the finish line.


The renovation is meant to help both the congregation and the community members who use the church for a variety of purposes, Cataldo said.

The church is open and affirming of people from every walk of life, including every race, ethnicity, nationality, gender identity, family structure and sexual orientation.

It tries to serve as many community functions as it can, Cataldo said. It hosts Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and $7 chowder lunches. In the past, it also has hosted Boy Scouts and school programs, and allowed the local Rotary Club to use its kitchen.

“We try to host different things, and we’re trying to find the next way to use the building,” Cataldo said.

That welcoming spirit is one of the reasons the current campaign would fund a renovation of the front lobby, replacing its carpet and painting its walls and ceiling.

The lobby floor currently is covered in an orange carpet that probably dates to the 1970s, said Hariph Smith, an active member of the congregation who has been helping to organize a capital campaign for the work. Its replacement might resemble the dark red carpets that now line parts of its sanctuary.


The front lobby also features an assortment of Bibles, collection plates, organ pedals and other artifacts that are stored in a delicate glass display case, and the church hopes to move them to a more secure location, Cataldo said.

Church services are held in the church sanctuary, where origami birds have been dangling from strings for the last couple of months to help celebrate Pentecost, a Christian holiday that recognizes the descent of the Holy Spirit following Easter.

The church made a significant renovation of the sanctuary in 2014, Cataldo said, tearing up its carpets to leave a mostly wooden floor and attempting to repair some damage to the ceiling. But shortly after that work was completed, water again leaked through the ceiling near the bell tower, signaling the need for the longer-term repairs that soon could be completed.

Because of the damage to that tower, the church has had to stop ringing its bell and, as a result, avoid participating in some rituals that would be consistent with its mission. On June 12, for example, churches around the country rang their bells 49 times to honor each of the shooting victims at the Pulse Orlando night club one year earlier.

“I would have loved to do 49 rings,” Cataldo said.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

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