The Church of Our Redeemer was recognized as a mission by the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts in the spring of 1884 and incorporated as a parish in October 1885. Construction of a church building started almost immediately thereafter. The church on the corner of Meriam and Oakland Streets was consecrated on June 16, 1887.
The Lexington of that era was generally a farming community and the largest church was Unitarian. The Episcopal congregation remained small, served by several short-term clergy until the Reverend R. Eliot Marshall was called in 1930. His death in 1937 was unexpected and a shock to the church. The Reverend Harold T. Handley was called as rector in 1939 and remained in that position until 1973. He became the face of Redeemer in the community. He had great interest in Lexington’s colonial past and served as chaplain for the Lexington Minutemen and founded the Battle Green Guides.
Lexington became a thriving suburb of Boston after World War II and, as Lexington’s population grew, Redeemer’s did as well. It became apparent that the small church building could not accommodate the active congregation. After several years of fundraising, a parcel of land was purchased in 1954 across the street from the original church. The new church was dedicated on September 8, 1957. The old building was sold to the Greek Orthodox Church of Lexington (St. Nicholas’) in 1965. Redeemer added a parish house to the new church in 1966. Church organizations (i.e. Partners Club, Young Mother’s Group, etc.) and the church school grew with a Thursday afternoon “Sunday School” program, adult education and Lenten Study.
In the 1960s and 1970s this active congregation turned its attention outward. Members became involved in outreach projects such as the Heifer Project International, Rosie’s Place, and the Lexington Cambodian Resettlement. This involvement in mission has grown and continued both in the Lexington community and the greater world. Redeemer has been the site of the Lexington’s Interfaith Food Pantry for many years and members take an active part in tending the Interfaith Garden. Currently, members take part in El Hogar service trips to Honduras and cook for Bristol Lodge in Waltham among many other projects.
The Reverend Ted Petterson became rector in 1974 and strengthened Redeemer’s sense of connection to the surrounding world. Lay leadership grew and helped the parish became involved in new ventures such as a dialogue with Temple Isaiah and food and clothing aid to St. Stephen’s in Lynn. The Youth Group ran a food stand on the Rectory lawn on Patriot’s Day to raise money for their chosen mission work. During these years a number of local groups used the church’s facilities as meeting places, among them Alcoholics Anonymous and the Lexington Council on Aging.
The Reverend Alden B. Flanders became rector in 1985 when Redeemer’s congregation became more diverse and inclusive. In general, the 1980s brought a decline in mainline church attendance all over the country. Redeemer was no exception. However, a number of new families with young children came. Lexington Playcare, an independent day care facility expanded its facilities in the parish house so that our space became fully utilized and the children brought a great sense joyful activity to our community. The Reverend Flanders resigned in 2003 and was followed by the Reverend Terry McCall (interim) and the Reverend Tricia de Beer from 2005 to 2009.
The Reverend Kate Ekrem came to Redeemer as Priest-in-Charge in 2009 and was called as Rector in 2011. Mtr. Kate left in 2021 to be the first female rector at Christ Church in Cambridge. In the fall of 2021, we celebrated Mtr. Kate’s last day with us at a big outdoor service.
The Reverend Ginger Solaqua has been the interim rector while Redeemer’s Search Team engages the whole parish in thinking and praying about who our next rector will be and our Vestry and Clergy team continue to lead us as we seek to serve God today.
After this period of discernment led by Redeemer’s Search Team, the Vestry announced the Rev. Megan Holding has accepted CoOR’s call to become the next rector beginning during Advent 2023. Rev. Holding stood out for her strong personal faith, commitment to cultivate faith in others, her creativity, joy, spirit of collaboration, and her commitment to social justice. Our Redeemer parish is looking forward to growing in faith and service to God with Rev. Holding.