The Hillside-Sanctuary Partnership

A Long History of Teamwork

Hillside Community Church and Sanctuary UCC are two open and inclusive congregations in Medford, Massachusetts. Members of the same progressive denomination called the United Church of Christ, they have been working in partnership to serve Medford and its surrounding communities for over a half-century.

Over the decades, this partnership has been lived out in different ways at different times. In recent years, these two churches have come together around various community service projects and a shared ministry to youth and teens. We also would celebrate all of the Christian high holy day services together.

The Pandemic Brings Us Closer Together

Then along came the coronavirus pandemic.

Easter (and our usual joint Easter service) fell just one month after the lockdowns began. We chose to forge ahead and offer that services together online. Coming out of that experience – with all the work that went into reimagining what worship could look like online and figuring out how to pull it off technologically – it was clear to both churches that we needed each other to make it through the pandemic crisis.

After two years of joint online services and joint programming, two years of sharing traditions, two years of learning from one another, our leadership teams made the decision to continue to journey together in this newly tight-knit partnership even after the pandemic restrictions had lifted.

Our Partnership Today

We continue to explore and live into that new partnership, each church bringing to it what we do best: Hillside, with its commitment to excellence in worship and music; Sanctuary, with its bold artistic vision and on-the-streets ethos; and both with their deep commitment to making real Jesus’ call to love and justice.

Our musicians and pastors collaborate on contemporary worship themes that touch our lives right where we live. Practical spirituality lives large in our Messy Sunday School program for kids, study groups that grapple with today’s hot topics, and neighbor-loving service like the Medford Micropantry mission and activism for equity. We work hard to meet people where they are, engage deep questions in deep conversation, and see the beauty of God’s Creation through art, film, story, and song.

We remain convinced that together, we are better able to love and serve our neighbors than we ever could alone.

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