On Saturday, June 11, at 11 a.m., the Federated Church will have a special memorial service for the Rev. Amy Edwards. Reverend Edwards was a unique and special human being who came to the Federated after careers in law, social work, counseling, and business. She was raised in the Providence area and grew up there and in Westport. She graduated from seminary just last year and joined the Federated as their settled pastor in September. When she joined the church, she thought she was a two-time breast cancer survivor, but by New Year’s, it was obvious that this was not so. She required surgery and subsequent radiation therapy for metastatic disease. She was followed by the breast oncology service at Massachusetts General Hospital. She believed that her situation was treatable, if not curable. She carried on.

She was an energetic, loving and joy-filled person who made an immediate impact on the Federated congregation and the Island. She made friends readily and was well known across the Island, from her visitations and counseling to her participation in the Island clergy association.

As the winter wore on and spring came, the cancer began to sap her strength. My sister is a breast cancer survivor and she has always said that cancer is a thief that enters your body unbidden, unwanted and unexpected. Since her diagnosis, I think my sister has maintained a steady anger at her cancer and with no recurrence to date, it seems to have been good prophylaxis. Amy was not so fortunate. By late April, her disease had spread and it became clear that she would have to relinquish her position with the church. As the first female pastor of the Federated in 374 years, she was most reluctant to give the pulpit up. She departed the Island on May 3, with her mother, pastoring and ministering to her congregation to her last hour on the Island. By this time she was in hospice. She went to live with her mother in Little Compton and sadly, she died on May 13.

Her funeral was held in her family’s church in Little Compton, where her mother, also a UCC minister, was the pastor for many years. This service was held on May 21 and was as joyous an affair as it could be. The last time I was in this church was for Amy’s ordination last September, also a most joyous affair.

The Federated Church will be having a memorial service for Amy this coming Saturday and the entire Island is invited. The Rev. Terry Martinson, our prior interim pastor, will officiate. Amy’s family will be present to share in this time of reflection and celebration of this remarkable person’s life.

Jim Butterick
Oak Bluffs

The writer is moderator for the Federated Church of Martha’s Vineyard.