NEWINGTON - In 1776, one-fifth of the townâ€™s residents marched up to Boston to fight the British, summoned by Church of Christ Pastor the Rev. Joshua Belden.
This little-known fact was shared with the Town Council in a proclamation this week recognizing the churchâ€™s 300th anniversary. â€śThe Churchâ€ť as it was called by its founders in 1722, is now known as the Church of Christ Congregational.
â€śYour churchâ€™s history is so tied with Newingtonâ€™s history itâ€™s amazing,â€ť Majority Leader Tim Manke told clergy who attended the councilâ€™s virtual meeting Tuesday night. â€śAny church that can convince a fifth of the population to march to Boston to fight the British has got to have the power of God in there someplace; that would be a tough thing to do nowadays. Your history is our history. Newington is indebted to the church and the services you provide.â€ť
Not only is the church a landmark in downtown Newington and the worship sanctuary home to hundreds of members, it also provides a facility for many service organizations including local Boy and Girl Scouts, Alcoholics Anonymous, Got Lunch Newington and Family Promise of Central CT.
â€śThe Church of Christ certainly holds a central place in the town of Newington, literally and figuratively,â€ť Deputy Mayor Gail Budrejko said. â€śI want to congratulate you on this momentous occasion. I hope you celebrate many more anniversaries to come.â€ť
The townâ€™s first Sunday School was founded by the church in 1817 and members built the current facility at the corner of Main and Cedar Streets in 1960.
Longtime resident Gary Bolles grew up going to the old church and was confirmed in the new building.
â€śWe young new members were brought into the newly finished church on Feb, 28 1961, by our then minister and teacher Rev. Harold C. Burdon,â€ť Bolles recalled. â€śIâ€™ll never forget as he led us down the center aisle of this brand new church.â€ť
In more recent years, the church welcomed its first female senior minister in 2013 and in 2017, voted to become open and affirming to welcome all people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Pastor the Rev. Melanie Enfield thanked elected officials for the honor this week.
â€śI feel like I am blessed to be a part of a wonderful community, not only in the church but also in the town,â€ť she said.
The congregation will officially be celebrating its 300th anniversary this Sunday, Oct. 17 at its 10 a.m. service.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at email@example.com.