A Brief History of Our Church

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1667 Townhouse with 1675 addition


The following are excerpts from The Last Quarter Century: 1965-1990, written and illustrated by Helen Sickles Hull Allen, to commemorate the 325th anniversary of The First Congregational Church of Greenwich:

The First Congregational Church of Greenwich was created by an act of the General Court of the Colony of Connecticut passed at the May 1665 session. This action of legislature authorized the establishment of “the First Church of Christ in Greenwich” or “First Society of Christ” or “The East Society”. The name “Congregational” was not applied generally in New England until after the Revolutionary War. The growth of Greenwich was so slow that it was not until about 1669 that the inhabitants numbered enough to support a minister of their own.

The first recorded religious services in the town of Greenwich were held in 1656 in the houses of settlers. In 1667 a newly built schoolhouse became the place of worship as well as a central meeting place for the inhabitants. It is probable that the religious services were conducted by the clergy of the First Society of Stamford from 1645 on in “private houses or in the open air.”



During the years since then the church has slowly grown, meeting all the community problems of war, poverty, sorrow, anxiety, peace and prosperity which have marked these three and a quarter centuries. In 1960 our church became affiliated with the United Church of Christ and is now known as The First Congregational Church of Greenwich, Old Greenwich, Connecticut.

The stone Meetinghouse, dedicated in 1895, was the fourth one built to house the congregation and was an adaptation of a Norman-Gothic structure built in England in 1100. The building was expanded in 1930 with the construction of the June Binney Memorial Parish House. The education wing was added later, and dedicated in 1952. The Meetinghouse itself was enlarged and partially reconstructed during the years 1960-1962.

First Church Today

Timeline of Events in our Church


1656 The first recorded religious services in town were held in the houses of settlers.
1664 The 7 Proprietors: Jeffre Ferris, Senre; Joshua Knapp, Senre; Joseph Ferris, Jonathan Reynolds, Angell Heusted, John Mead and John Hobbe wanted their own church & town separate from Stamford. Church and government were inseparable. They had Congregational values of free choice.
1665 May 11 Charter: The church was incorporated by the General Court of the Colony of Connecticut as the First Church of Christ in Greenwich.
1667 A newly built schoolhouse became the place of worship as well as a central meeting place.
1669 The first pastor was Eliphalet Jones, who was shared by other churches.
1670 William Grimes willed his land, about 32 acres in Shorelands, for town/church improvements. This was our first endowment. We rented the land for grazing.
1678 Jeremiah Peck became the first settled minister.
1694 A second new church was built at Tomac and Lockwood Avenue. It was 32 feet long by 26 feet wide.
1705 The General Court in Hartford split the Horseneck Society from the “East Society” (our old name), becoming what is now the Second Congregational Church in Greenwich. The dividing line between the two Ecclesiastical Societies was the Mianus River. Before this, both groups shared pastors, causing many years of disputes. Several pastors left due to this.
1735 A third two-story wooden building for the church, the Gallery Church, was built on the same spot as the first.  Episcopalians helped build this church in return for them being able to hold their services there on Sunday afternoons.
1785 Members of the church had to buy a pew space and build their own pew. The Revolutionary War left our town in very bad shape financially.
1812 The War of 1812 bypassed Greenwich.
1816 Sunday School began here.
1835 A fourth wooden Meetinghouse for the church was built by Joshua Ferris on Sound Beach Avenue, after buying part of the Ebenezer Peck estate property. Mr. Ferris was paid $1800. Our current cemetery was established there as well. This white pillared building burned down in 1895.
1835-36 Regular church attendance or you were fined. Attendance was more than a duty – it was a social obligation. Sabbath breaking, intoxication and profanity were causes for excommunication. Due to those rules, for these years only women were members of the church.
1843 A new parsonage house was built at 106 Sound Beach Ave. The old parsonage on Arch Street, Riverside, was condemned.
1847 Our church sold some of its land to the New York and New Haven Railroad Company for their new railroad.
1869 Mr. Boulton was hired as Chorister for six months.
1872 Our part of town changed its name to “Sound Beach” as the railroad brought summer residents.
1874 Miss Minnie Brush was hired as our first Director of Music for $50 a year.
1877 Our first organ cost $182.24. It was a small parlor-type reed organ. Someone saved it from the 1895 fire by throwing it out the window.
1890 The church was renamed to “First Congregational Church of Greenwich”. We had 85 members, and 102 children in church school.
1895-96 The stone Meetinghouse, our fifth, was built for $21,453.
1895 The wooden church in the cemetery was destroyed by fire, including church school records and library. Silver, pewter, the organ and piano were saved.  People worshiped in the school house until the stone Meetinghouse was finished.
1900 The church bought the McAfee property for enlarging the cemetery.
1906 The church sold the 32 acre Grimes property for $31,363 to George A. McIntosh.
1919 We accepted Hubert Dalton’s offer of the house at the corner of Tomac and Forest Ave, as long as we paid to have it moved. The basement was dug and in 1920 the house was moved to “the northeast corner of our property”. It is our parsonage at 11 Forest Ave. Dalton wanted to make room for his new Dalton Tool factory, which later became the Electrolux factory.
1927 Allan Lorimer became pastor. He helped organize the Lions Club, was Grand Chaplain of Masonic Lodge, CT, and a founding member of the Greenwich Historical Society.
1928 Edwin Binney, Sr., gave Binney Park to the town. It was a swampy mire before.
Click the photo to enlarge.
Thank you to Coline Jenkins for the photo.
1930-1931 The June Binney Memorial Parish House (church offices and auditorium) was built.
1930 Mr. and Mrs. Robert Stewart gave the 12-bell chimes in the bell tower where there had been only one bell.
1930 The Women’s Guild was founded. It’s now called the Women’s Fellowship. They have raised a great deal of money for the church and charities.
1931 Our part of town changed its name from “Sound Beach” to “Old Greenwich”.
1935 Rev. Alden Mosshammer followed Rev. Lorimer. He worked with the youth group, Boy Scouts, YMCA, Community Chest, Lions Club, Men’s Club and put the church on a sound financial basis.
1938 The restoration of Tomac Cemetery was guided by Helen Binney Kitchel and the Old Greenwich Garden Club.
1940 The town tercentenary was celebrated at our church having a colonial-costumed-procession into the church on June 23rd.
1941 Rev. Vincent Daniels became pastor, making the church even more community minded. The church membership grew very large.
1943 The traditional Easter sunrise service at Greenwich Point beach began, with the youth group leading it almost continuously to today.
1943 Some people in Old Greenwich and Riverside and members of the First Congregational Church launched a small recreational program for teens in town. They had dances, Saturday morning movies, and athletic programs in our Binney Memorial Parish Hall. Thus began the Old Greenwich – Riverside Community Center (OGRCC).
1947 The first proclamation of Founders Day on July 18th was declared by Alice Stead Binney, President of the Greenwich Historical Society.
1950-62 Pastor Herman Reissig added new dimensions to the church’s social consciousness and outreach.
1951-52 The Education wing was added and dedicated. (The current lounge/kitchen/3rd floor/offices) The Meetinghouse was also enlarged to hold 250 people.
1953 We bought 15 Forest Ave, from Evelyn Billie Staby, as an extra parsonage, on 4/17/1953.
1955 Peg Roberts began the Nursery School for 3 and 4 year olds on weekdays. (Later it was renamed the Preschool.)
1956 Viola Worrell retired after 41 years as Director of Music.
1957 Percy Letts bought the stones from the demolished First Presbyterian Church at 90 Broad St, Stamford for our Meetinghouse expansion.
1959 We bought 20 Forest Ave, across the street, as an extra parsonage.
1961 Our church became affiliated with the United Church of Christ.
1960-62 The Meetinghouse was doubled in size and the pews were rotated 180 degrees. The big chancel window was added, as well as the windows along the chapel and narthex. The undercroft and educational facilities were expanded.
1960s Outreach projects were underway to help many others outside our church.
1963 Dr. Vincent Daniels died suddenly.
1964 The Rummage Room opened on Oct. 1, replacing the annual church rummage sale.  We bought 22 Watch Tower Lane as a parsonage for Rev. Duke Potter.
1965 The church’s summer day camp began.
1965 There was a year-long celebration of First Church’s 300 years.
1965 We sold the 20 Forest Ave parsonage.
1966 The annual Handel’s Messiah concert began, directed by Richard Vogt. Our annual Christmas Tree sale also began, headed up by Betty and Harry Woodman, with proceeds to local charities.
1966 The Meetinghouse News (later called the Meetinghouse Monthly) began as a bimonthly.
1967 Our church services began broadcasting on WGCH radio with Ray Harrington’s help.  We bought the 5 Deepwoods Lane parsonage for Rev. Libby.
1968 The once-every-four-years “Noye’s Fludde” production began, directed by Richard Vogt.
1970 The youth group began work projects in the local area and in other states and, now, countries.
1973 The 9:15 am and 11 am services were combined into one 10 am service and a coffee hour.
1973 Recognition Sunday began as an annual event to thank the church school volunteers and staff and give Bibles to the third graders.
1973 We sold the Watch Tower and Deepwoods parsonages, then bought the 22 Shady Brook Lane house for Rev. Yinger.
1975 Stephen Ministry originated in Saint Louis. It began at our church in 1990.
1975 The first woman, Allie Holmes, became a senior deacon. By 1990 there were still only two women who had been senior deacons.
1976 Rev. Tom Stiers was promoted to Senior Pastor when Rev. Paul Yinger left.
1978 A new Austin organ was installed.
1978-2015 Mary Babbidge was Cemetery Administrator and Vital Records Clerk.
1979 8 am beach services were started in June, July and August.
1979 The Columbarium, at the far side of the cemetery, was built to add 1,400 spaces.
1980 Rev. Dale M. Greene became our first female non-interim minister.
1980 Sally Colegrove and Rev. Paul Fraser began the annual Cross Walk to Greenwich Point on Good Friday with the SPF Youth Group.
1981 The first Music Sunday in May was held with strawberries & cream and maypole dancing.
1988 The Helen B. Kitchel Memory Garden was created – paved and landscaped.
1988 Bob Small began our Sunday service WGCH radio broadcasts with new equipment.
1989 The Daniels Center was named and remodeled from the old gym downstairs.
1989 The Board of Deacons was merged from the separate Deacons and Deaconesses.
1989 Long range planning began (Twelve keys to an Effective Church).
1990 This was the 325 anniversary year of our church and the town’s 350th anniversary.
1991 50 church families were dealing with unemployment. We housed homeless men in the Daniels Center at our church for two weeks, rotating with other places.
1991 Stephen Ministry training began at our church.
1991 First Person Singular began at our church.
1994 The United Church of Christ Musicians Association (UCCMA) began here with Jayson Engquist as president.
1995 Richard Vogt suddenly passed away.
1995-2010 John Stansell was Minister of Music.
1996-2014 George Handley was Business Administrator.
1997 Our fccog.org website was launched. By 2007 it has audio sermons and by 2009 audio Bible study classes.
1998-2000 Mary Ann McDevitt, RN, BSN, was our first Parish Nurse.
2000 70 members and youth of our church went to the Holy Land.
2000-2014 Kirk Young was Financial Administrator.
2000-2004 Dee Coover, RN, MPH, MSN, was our second Parish Nurse.
2001-2018 Donna White was Senior Administrative Assistant.
2002-2022 Rosemary Lamie began as Church School Coordinator with Jenny Lepoutre for two years. Rosemary became Director of Family Ministries and retired in 2022 as Faith Formation and Education Coordinator.
2003 Our Open and Affirming policy was adopted.
2003 Rev. Tom Stiers retired after 29 years with our church.
2003 Rev. Sally Colegrove was called as Senior Pastor at Windham Hill, ME.
2004 Susan Asselin, RN, took over from Dee Coover as our third Parish Nurse.
2005-2012 Rev. Dr. David Young was Senior Pastor.
2006-2021 Ginny Breismeister was Director of Membership for 15 years.
2007 Rev. Susie Craig was called to the UCC Conference in ME.  We sold the 22 Shady Brook Lane parsonage.
2007-2014 Rev. Daniel B. England was Minister of Communication and Adult Education.
2008-2015 Rev. Mark D. Montgomery was Associate Pastor.
2008-2014 Maureen Bruno was Preschool Administrative Assistant.
2008 Our first same sex marriage was performed (John Stansell & Michael Pellegrino).
2009 Rev. Avery C. Manchester began as Minister of Pastoral Care.
2009 New Mission Teams were formed to help in the areas of environmental, hunger, international, literacy, national, shelter and visitation.
2010-2016 Barb Wilkov was Director of Publications.
2010 Dr. Craig Scott Symons began as Director of Music/Organist.
2011 The Women’s Fellowship held their first Soup Sale on Superbowl Sunday, headed by Pat Schay.
2011-2013 The 5 pm Sunday “linc” services were held, led by Rev. Mark Montgomery.
2012-2021 Darla Kohler Steiner was Preschool Director.
2012 Rev. Dr. David Young resigned.
2012-2014 Rev. John W. Collins was Interim Senior Pastor.
2014-2018 Rev. Richard S. DenUyl, Jr., was Senior Pastor.
2014-2022 Steve Summerton was Director of Church Administration and Finance.
2015-2022 Melanie Garnett was Preschool Administrative Assistant.
2015 We celebrated the 350th anniversary year of our church, from May 2015 to April 2016.
2016-2018 Vance Briceland was Publication Coordinator.
2016 Rev. Patrick Collins began as Associate Pastor. In 2020 he became Senior Pastor.
2018 Sue Wilder began as Database Administrative Assistant.
2018-2020 Rev. Carla Dietz was Interim Pastor.
2018 Wendy Spezzano began as Administrative Assistant. In 2022 she became Church Office Coordinator.
2019-2020 Dalinda Rioseco was Communications Specialist.
2020 Cydney Van Dyke began as Associate Pastor.
2020 On March 15 we switched from in-person Sunday services to livestreamed services due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
2021 Daniel Lepoutre began as Livestream Director.
2021-2022 Stephen Lucin was Director of Public Relations.
2021-2023 Jennifer DiCarlo was Preschool Director.
2022 We replaced our Sunday service broadcasts on WGCH radio with a telephone option.
2022 Greg Girolamo began as Financial Administrator.
2022-2022 Enkel Mari was Facilities Manager.
2022 Kayla Vozzella began as Assistant Director of the Preschool.
2023 The Peace Pole was dedicated to Rosemary Lamie in the Columbarium in our cemetery.
2023 Khaleigh Laicher began as Director of FCCOG Church School and Regional Youth Ministry.
2023 Beth Genovese began as Director of the Preschool.