United Methodist celebrates its final mortgage payment

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Parishioners at the United Methodist Church burned copies of the church's mortgage during Friday's ceremony. Staff Photo/Max Bowen

By Max Bowen-max.bowen@northstarreporter.com

Paying off one’s mortgage is a day that any homeowner dreams of and last Friday, the members of the First United Methodist Church held a special ceremony to mark its final payment.

On the front lawn of the church, members assembled to sing, share stories, and finally, burn copies of the mortgage in a small fire pit. Originally planned to be a bonfire, the event was scaled back due to high winds. Beth James said when her family first moved to North Attleborough in 2001, she knew their identity was in the church. Years passed, and she said it never occurred to them to be anywhere else.

Beth recalled that when a toddler pulls a fire alarm it doesn’t take long for the fire department to get there. She and other members of the church helped build a shed for the annual pumpkin patch, and decorated the sanctuary.

I have only 20 years of memories here,” she said. “But I am thankful this night and all nights to all the people who came before me and provided this place for our church family to gather and to worship and to share love from this hill.”

Many other members talked about their time at First United. Joann Hudson grew up in the church with her first husband. She said the church’s atmosphere was like a family and encouraged her own family to participate there.

I remember many of the people that made a difference in my life,” she said. “Spiritually, as well as friendship.”

The church was built in 1963 when the two sister owners of the Arns apple orchard at 20 Hoppin Hill decided to sell the land because they felt their “father would like a church on top of the hill.” The laying of the cornerstone of the original structure took place on April 28, 1963 while the choir sang “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.”

The church in recent decades underwent several mortgage refinances, before finally making its final payment on the property in February of this year. It is currently served by a trio of lay ministers: Certified Lay Minister Tom Senerchia, Susan Ulicnik, and Craig Brown, Sr. This marks the first time in the history of the Commonwealth West Conference of the New England Conference that a United Methodist Church has been served by a Ministry Team.