Dedication, Deconsecration

From the following editions of the Vineyard Gazette:

May 9, 1895: A large number of our most honored citizens assembled at the new Oakland Hall mission building at Cottage City last Sabbath afternoon to join in the exercises of dedicating the new and beautiful chapel which has been erected since March 18. The outside of the building is painted in light drab, with white trimmings. The inside of the chapel has window and door casings of natural wood, with sheathing of cherry, capped with imitation of black walnut. The walls are eleven feet in height, and the windows fitted with weights, obviating all difficulty of ventilation. The building is plastered throughout.

The exercises of the day was presided over by the Superintendent Mrs. Susan C. Bradley, who read the following form of Dedication to Divine Worship and Human Service: We dedicate this Chapel to the worship of God, whose worship is best performed by acts calculated to develop the highest Christian character. We dedicate it to the study of the gospel of Jesus Christ and all truth. Intellectual, moral and religious. We dedicate it to the service of our fellow men, to the up-building of personal character, and the practice of Christian virtue. Here may we worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. Here may our prayer and aspiration find the answer of forgiving peace and perfect trust. Here may we gain strength for trial and temptation, and rest to our trouble and sorrow. Here may our children be taught the way of Virtue and Piety, and grow up in the strength and beauty of Christian character. May we meet together here in common brotherhood, learn to love one another, to bear one another’s burdens, and to do good unto all. And may the blessing of God crown and sanctify this house, for the building of which loving hearts and kind hands have so generously contributed. May it be for us the house of God and the gate of heaven.

Oct. 23, 1953: It was more than fifty years ago that Bradley Memorial Church in Oak Bluffs was organized under the initiative of the late Rev. Oscar E. Denniston. In that half century the church, its building and its congregation, have had their ups and downs. Although it was never fair sailing even in the most successful days under Mr. Denniston’s pastorate, the church had had a devoted and dedicated group of members who have stood by in fat days and lean. Soon after Mr. Denniston’s death in 1942, the fate of the church seemed to be in doubt, and it was then that Vineyarders of every faith rallied to the support of the group. The Massachusetts Baptist Convention gave a helping hand, and the united efforts of ministers and lay leaders, and of the Martha’s Vineyard Neighborhood Convention, saw the revival of the church.

Oct. 30, 1953: Editors: We wish to thank you for the nice article in last Friday’s Gazette. Mrs. Susan C. Bradley had the mission on Masonic avenue, Oak Bluffs. Rev. O.E. Denniston conducted services there during the summer. The room was too small to hold the congregation and they gathered outside and blocked the street. The police rule did not allow this. Mrs. Bradley had been dead several years when Mr. Denniston bought by himself Luce Hall on Circuit avenue. He gave it the name of Bradley Memorial Baptist Church, and it was for summer use, since we used the mission during the winter. Mabel A. Hughes, Bradley Memorial Baptist trustee.

Aug. 23, 1955: Sealed bids will be received until noon, September 15th, 1955, for taking down and removing the structure of the Bradley Memorial Baptist Church on Circuit Ave, Oak Bluffs. Formerly built as a theater (the Noepe) with appropriate seating capacity and much additional room, the church was saddled with a building that was far too large and costly for its purposes.

Jan. 27, 1956: Recent action taken, respectively, by the Northern Baptist Convention and Vineyard Lodge of Odd Fellows, virtually insures the return to the former body of the original Baptist Church of Cottage City, for about a quarter of a century discontinued as a house of worship and owned and used by the Odd Fellows as a lodge hall. The building will be occupied by the Bradley Memorial Church of Oak Bluffs. The church building located on Pequot avenue, Oak Bluffs, next to the town office, was built in 1878 for the Baptist parish of the town which had had no meeting place of its own previously.

April 1, 1966: Members of the Island community are invited to a special closing service of the Bradley Memorial Baptist Church in Oak Bluffs on Sunday. The church building owned by the Massachusetts Baptist Convention, has been sold, and will be vacated as a place of worship following the services. Rev. George S. Bieber, who has been serving as pastor of the church for three years, has announced the service of deconsecration and invited the community to attend to pay tribute to the small corps of faithful workers who have kept the church alive for many years. The Bradley Missionary Society will continue to meet, but the church membership will be assimilated into other Island churches. The group has occupied the present building for the past ten years.

Compiled by Eulalie Regan