Old Sloop Fair Janice and Cathy

The Tale of Two Families

April 1, 2022
Janice Ramsden shares how immigrants from Sweden created a succession of membership in the First Congregational Church of Rockport.

The Tale of Two Families

by Janice Ramsden

March 30, 2022

How it all Began

I have been asked to share my story about membership in the First Congregational Church of Rockport. I will call this The Tale of Two Families, my Personal Family and my Church Family.

It all started when my grandparents emigrated from Sweden to the United States. They attended a church located at 111 Granite Street in Pigeon Cove with their two daughters. Back then it was simply known as the Swedish Church.

My father was born and raised in Gloucester. His father was also an immigrant from Sweden. In his youth my father attended Sunday School at Trinity Congregational Church and was the soloist at St. John’s Episcopal. He would attend Sunday School at Trinity and run down the street to St. John’s to sing.

My Parents and Siblings

At some point in the 1940s, the Swedish Church on Granite Street closed and converted into living quarters. It was during this time that my father was in the service. My parents first lived in Washington DC where my sister was born. Then were transferred to New York where I was born. When my father was discharged, our family returned to Rockport where my brother was born to complete our family.

It was soon after this that my grandparents, my parents, my siblings and I became members of the First Congregational Church of Rockport. I still have the bible that was presented to me on June 2, 1952.

Getting Married

Fast forward to 1967 when I married my husband, George. We had been dating for seven years so religion was not a difficult topic for us to discuss. He’s a Catholic and planned to continue practicing his faith.

We knew it would be challenging for each of us to stay with the churches we had joined, but we were determined to make it work. Something we didn’t discuss until we were in my car to leave on our honeymoon was my mother’s meatloaf. He had eaten it for seven years without a peep, but he told me to forget keeping the recipe. I told him to forget about having animals and off we went.

We have two sons and four grandchildren and just celebrated our 55th anniversary.

My Church Family

Just as my personal family has always been there for me, so has my church family. Both families have been supportive through all of the ups and downs of my life. We have shed tears and laughed together. They have prayed for me as I have prayed for them. I can tell you from my heart that, through my membership in this church, the words “our thoughts and prayers are with you” are a reality.

But being a member has given me a lot more than this. I have had the opportunity to help set the direction of this church. Some of the important decisions that I recall participating in were the remodeling of the sanctuary, buying a new organ, becoming a UCC church, voting on being an open and affirming church, and choosing our ministers.

As with decisions at home, our church family has made many difficult decisions to help improve our members’ lives as part of a strong faith community.  The love and support I feel in my heart for my personal family is the same love and support I feel for my church family. The blessed tale of two wonderful families.