Near the ‘shot heard ‘round the world,’ church connects town’s founding to current need for the gospel

BEDFORD, Mass. (BP) — Ministry in a place that witnessed the first shots of the American Revolution demands an appreciation for history. Trinity Church of Bedford works to honor that connection while hoping to draw residents back to a commitment made long ago.

Bedford Day, marking the town’s founding on Sept. 23, 1729, is the biggest day of the year. Trinity Church families join others in events such as the annual parade. July Fourth and Patriots’ Day, which is observed in April, are celebrated in similar nature.

Those festivities bring on a need to look back.

As taxation of the colonies increased, the town voted in 1774 to ready a portion of its local militia to “Minutemen Status,” prepared to respond to anything deemed an overt threat by the British. On April 19, 1775 they joined the fight, marching to the North Bridge in Concord and the site of the “shot heard round the world.” The flag they carried that day remains in the Bedford Public Library—less than five miles from the original battle site.

Known and celebrated for its connection to the founding of our country, Bedford also began over a desire for its people to have a relationship with Christ.

“This town was founded for the sake of the gospel,” said Scott Cope, a Massachusetts native and pastor of Trinity Church of Bedford since it launched in 2022. “In its early days, farmers and residents walked five miles south to go to church in Concord or five miles north for church in Billerica. Citizens petitioned the Massachusetts General Assembly for them to start a church in Bedford.”

That brought about a church that preached the gospel. However, a split occurred in 1832. Those who remained became the Unitarian church in the building today. The others held a Trinitarian point of view and moved to a new location down the road. But over time, it also fell away to no longer preach the gospel, said Cope.

Trinity Church meets on Sundays at a space rented through the town. When they needed a baptistry, the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Church offered theirs. A Lutheran church offered its building for Sunday evening prayer services that include a few Presbyterians.

“There are other congregations in town open to partnering with us,” Cope said. “The city and those churches have been extremely nice.”

Trinity Church of Bedford cites holding to a biblical gospel among its mission values, pointing to a devotion to Christ held by the town’s founders. Its name also is an announcement that the church has no plans on going anywhere.  

“We want that communicated to people. The name points to a triune God and the good news of Christ,” said Cope. “That is front and center. We want to communicate that we agree with the reason why Bedford was founded and to see a gospel revival in this town. We’re a church that is covenanted and committed to each other.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Scott Barkley is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press.)

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