Colchester Federated Church History

A Brief Timeline of the History of the Colchester Federated Church

1698 - Town of Colchester incorporated from Jeremiah’s Plantation. All citizens expected to attend church every Sunday. 

Minister’s salary raised by tax assessment.

1703 - First Congregational minister arrived, Rev. John Bulkeley. Congregational church established.

1706 - First Meeting House erected on Old Hebron Road and was the center of religious, social, and political life in Colonial times. 

First Ecclesiastical Society formed.

1714 - Second Meeting House erected, situated just east of present structure. As church had no bell to call people to worship, it was common to beat a drum on the Lord’s Day.

1722 - Side galleries added to interior of the Meeting House.

1732 - Second Congregational minister arrived, Rev. Ephraim Little (served for 55 Years; 1732-1787).

1771 - Third Meeting House erected, with spire and bell; situated in back of where Old Bacon Academy now stands.

1792 - First Church constitution adopted for governing, administering & disciplining members.

1806 - Third bell installed.

1824 - Second Church constitution provided that membership be by confession of faith.

1830 - First conference house built. Later destroyed by fire in 1889.

1834 - Fourth and present bell installed (cast by George Holbrook).

1835 - Baptist Church erected on South Main Street, Rev. Mills, Pastor.

1841 - As church needed repairs, it was decided to pull it down and build a new one. It took 40 yokes of oxen to accomplish this task.

1842 - Fourth and present Meeting House dedicated. Built using some of the timbers from the third church. 

Rev. Mills (Baptist) gave concluding prayer

1843 - Methodist Episcopal Church built on Norwich Ave. Building razed in early 1900’s; members continued worship with the Baptists.

1849 - Sunday School incorporated into church, although classes had been taught since 1810.

1857 - Calvary Episcopal Church built on Hayward Ave. Building razed in early 1900’s; members continued worship with Baptists.

1858 - Second Conference Center and Chapel built, now known as Day Hall.

1865 - Rev. Lucius Curtis (seventh minister) spent time as Union Civil War Chaplain.

1871 - First pipe organ given by member Joseph C. Hammond.

1872 - Clock installed in steeple, facing north, east, and south, with people who live facing the Church on each side donating money for the clock on their side. People living west of church did not participate, hence the three-sided clock!

1885 - Church dedicated Jan. 1st after renovating with a Victorian décor, complete with stained glass windows. Second floor side galleries removed. Outside bell tower was extended higher, doors and pew doors became present lower wall paneling.

1890 - Rev. Charles M. Ransom ordained then left for Africa as a missionary.

1895 - Hook & Hastings pipe organ dedicated. Purchased with funds raised by Sunday School (cost $1,600).

1903 - 200th celebration of the First Church of Christ Congregational.

1929 - Remodeled into its present day look.

1938 - Original steeple blew off in hurricane.

1949 - Colchester Federated Church established, combining First Congregational and Baptist Churches. Present building became the place of worship. Baptist Church sold (now Liverant’s Antiques). Both parsonages were sold.

1950 - Rev. Carlton Easton became first pastor of the Federated Church, nineteenth minister to arrive in Colchester.

1952 - Present parsonage built.

1961 - Colchester Federated Church formally affiliated with the United Church of Christ (UCC).

1961 - Baker-Bunyan addition completed consisting of gymnasium, lounge, library, minister’s office, and Sunday School classrooms.

1968 - Present steeple removed, rebuilt, and hoisted back into place.

1969 - Second clock mechanism installed to operate original clock faces.

1974 - Sanctuary ceiling replaced with suspended ceiling, and sanctuary refurbished.

1979 - Church Organist Janet Pendleton retires after 57 years of service (1922-1979).

1980 - Twenty-fifth minister arrived, Rev. Davida Foy Crabtree (United Church of Christ), first woman minister.

1986 - Structural steel reinforcing of church floor and renovation of Stage Room under church completed. 

First Associate Minister arrived, Rev. Kenneth R. Downes (American Baptist).

1987 - Sandberg-Holmes property purchased next to parsonage.

1988 - Dedication of handicap ramp to main church dedicated in memory of Helen Gay.

1993 - Twenty-sixth minister arrives, Rev Erica Wimber Avena (American Baptist); first Baptist Senior Pastor since church federated in 1949.

2000 - Rev. Bonnie Haase-Beaupre called as Senior Pastor.

2006 - Rev. Linda U. Barnes called as Senior Pastor.

2013 - Adopted the Welcoming, Open and Affirming Statement, joined the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists (AWAB) in the ABC, and became an Open and Affirming (ONA) Church in the UCC. 

2017 - Rev. Lauren Lorincz Ostrout called as Pastor.

2020 - Completed the Capital Campaign to replace the church roofs and other building improvement projects. 

2022 - Adopted new Church By-Laws at the Annual Election Meeting on May 1, 2022.