The Church

The History of Swift Memorial UMC

Early Beginnings
The Indian name for this area was Scusset which translated to “a goodly place to settle”. In the beginning of worship history, settlers here traveled to Sandwich proper (Scusset was a part of Sandwich) for their prayer meetings and services.

In 1732 a meeting house was established for these residents but not much time had passed and its doors closed due to expense to run two churches. In 1810, the Religious Freedom Act bill passed and that permitted men and women to withdraw membership from a church and worship where they wanted. They successfully petitioned the General Court and incorporated with Falmouth and were known as the Methodist Society of Falmouth and Sandwich. They traveled to Pocasset for worship.

The White Church
By 1828 there were enough Methodists in Scusset to organize and establish a meeting house. Nathaniel Swift came forward and gave the deed to a plot of land and Benjamin Burgess loaned the group the money needed to build it. It was built and held 350. Rev. Frederic Upham was the first preacher. Neighborhoods that were served included Ellisville*, Cedarville*, Bournedale*, along with Upper and Lower Scusset. (* Their modern names) About 1852 Scusset became West Sandwich. Remodeling was done in 1868 and a new organ installed in 1886.

The Little Stone Church on the Canal
1884 saw Bourne break from Sandwich and become incorporated with West Sandwich. This area became the precinct known as Sagamore. 1908 saw this village as a thriving manufacturing area with the Keith Car and Manufacturing Co. employing several hundred men building their freight cars. (The lights hanging overhead in the present sanctuary are made from wheels from the cars.) With this Sagamore became a busy, booming place with lots of new residents. Rev. William Darby knew that the need for a larger, modern church was upon them, so he began the project. His idea was to build a stone church because of the amount of stones lying in nearby fields. The work was all done through man and horse-power, which was quite the challenge. Descendants of Nathaniel Swift, who gave land in 1828, gave monies to finance the new church, hence the name Swift Memorial.

Over its history, Swift Memorial, “the little stone church on the canal”, has seen many changes. Outside the coming of the Cape Cod Canal, the Sagamore Bridge, the changing landscapes around the church and the expansion of year round residents and housing. Inside the pipe organ came and went. Clear windows became some of the most beautiful stained glass tributes. Hard wood floors were covered and recovered and most recently, left to show their beautiful grain dating from 1910. The kitchen and dining hall are now the setting for the pre-school and the basement has several rooms for classes and other uses.

Activity Center and New Parsonage
In the early 1970s Swift Memorial saw an increase need for a larger activity area as its population again grew and the community needs changed. The new building, on the corner of Meetinghouse Lane and Old Plymouth Road, was constructed by the students of Upper Cape Regional Technical School and by the mid-70s was dedicated as the Swift Memorial Activity Center. For a while, many folks used this building for activities, out-reach, and a thrift shop known as The Red Roost. (It was due to the highly successful business done at the shop that the mortgage was paid off within 10 years, along with giving substantially to the church expenses.) The AC also served as a place for a local church’s school to begin, a day care center, along with dog training, YMCA classes, a food co-op, and a local ladies singing group. Recent history saw it used for 22 months for our church services while we waited for repairs due to the flooding of our sanctuary. Also in the 1970s the students once again were called upon to construct a new parsonage that would be closer to the church and Activity Center. This new home met all the requirements of the District and with the Activity Center were two proud achievements of the congregation.

Recent and Moving Forward
In 2010, Swift folks celebrated its One Hundredth anniversary with parties, services, tributes and even a parade. In 2012 we suffered a disastrous flooding of our beloved sanctuary as well as some other rooms. We moved back in after major renovations were completed in the late spring of 2014. Beginning in 2016, Swift members opened their hearts and hands to the up and coming Cultural Arts center for use for some of their class offerings. The AC is not in use at this time, but prayers for guidance as to its direction are being said. Swift Memorial looks forward to at least another 106 years of serving the Lord by serving His people, and bringing the message of peace, hope, and salvation to all who will listen.