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120 years of faithfulness in Acton

An ‘uncommon’ little church

Posted: August 29, 2008 9:02 p.m.
Updated: October 31, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Rev. Dr. Judith A. Hirsch-Fikejs, pastor of Acton Community Church, stands outside the church Wednesday. The church in the rural enclave of the valley is celebrating its 120 year anniversary.

 
The Rev. Dr. Judith Hirsch-Fikejs remembers bringing up one key question when she interviewed for the pastor position at Acton Community Presbyterian Church in 1985: “Do you want to be a church in the community or a community church?”

As the first full-time pastor since the church’s beginnings in 1888, Hirsch-Fikejs spent the last two decades making sure the congregation became a “community church” and remains a historical centerpiece of the Acton community.

Full of history

The church, established a year after Acton was founded, was then known as the Union Religious & Moral Society. Services were held in “The Little White School House,” which was built from California redwood and is now a private residence.

As the church grew and a Sunday school was added, the congregation took form, becoming affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 1916.

The church owns the 12 acres of Acton Cemetery, which is located a stone’s throw from the church grounds, making it the only Presbyterian Church west of the Mississippi to own its own cemetery, Hirsch-Fikejs said.
While the sanctuary, Hedgecock Hall, Heritage Field, annex and memorial flag have been stationed at Crown Valley Road for decades, the sanctuary building remains one of the oldest in Acton.

But despite the modifications and updates made to the building on Crown Valley Road over the years, the church still managed to catch the eye of Hollywood.

A range of television shows and movies like “Spanglish,” “The Six Million Dollar Man,” and “The A-Team” were filmed at the church, which is frequently referred to as “cute” church.

“Old Western churches are not common anymore,” she said.

Defining community
Acton Community Presbyterian Church has grown to maintain a visual presence in the community.
Town council committees and other Acton congregations frequently use the church’s space to meet, Hirsch-Fikejs said.

The church, which draws about 50 Sunday morning worshippers a week, hosts e-waste recycling events, concerts and food drives.

The congregation is also  sponsoring a fall cleanup at Acton Cemetery on Oct. 11.

The reverend is planning to make the Presbyterian church a host site for the Angel Food Ministry, which provides quality food to those who need it.

Besides being a spot for the community to meet, Hirsch-Fikejs said the church should be a way for people to understand the mysteries of their lives, especially when people say they believe in God but fail to regularly attend a congregation.

“The leadership of the church has failed to live up to the moral and spiritual expectations,” she said.

While community-minded, Hirsch-Fikejs said the church gives people a means to search for answers to life questions like what it means to be a citizen of the world. She said those questions are a reason why movies and shows like “Star Wars,” “Charmed” and “Saving Grace” have remained popular.

She said it’s through faith that people wrestle with  philosophical questions.

“Religion is a perspective that can talk to people,” she said.

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