Who We Are
Our congregation is made up of a diverse and caring group of individuals who are united in Christian fellowship with our desire to serve God and our neighbors both near and far.
Our church, located in Central Massachusetts has a long history dating back to 1737. We look fondly back at our past as we move forward toward the future and continue our growth as a faith.
Our traditional New England Church with its tall steeple and war memorial in front is situated prominently on Main Street. In addition to the Sanctuary, it has two large meeting halls and additional ten classrooms. The parsonage is located on nearby Lovell Street
The origin of the First Congregational Church of Westminster began with the Indian Wars of the 1600s. Our ally, Massasoit had died, and hostilities had arisen with some of the other Indian Chiefs, particularly, King Philip of the Narragansett tribe. War broke out in 1675 with the promise from the General Court of Massachusetts that in addition to their regular pay, the soldiers would be awarded land grants at the end of the war if certain criteria were met; i.e. annihilation and banishment of the Narragansetts. That was accomplished in 1676. King Philip died that same year at the hands of one of his own people. He had lost considerable favor among his own and other regional tribes.
It wasn’t until 1733 and numerous petitions by the claimants, that the General Court finally began to award the Narragansett claims. In all, seven grants were given, in what is now Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. Narragansett #2 (which eventually became Westminster) was given grants to approximately 120 soldiers of the King Philip War or their heirs or representatives to settle a six-mile square of land. There was a stipulation that a meetinghouse must be erected within the first five years of settlement. The meetinghouse would serve as a place to conduct town affairs as well as a house of worship. Remember, this is approximately 100 years before the separation of church and state and ecclesiastical matters were not separated from town affairs.
The meeting house was erected by 1739 and, although not finished, was habitable. In 1742, Elisha Marsh became our first settled Pastor with a yearly salary of 45 English Pounds or $8945 in today’s currency.
To those who have gone before us
To those who journey with us now
And to those who will follow us
As believers, servants, and children of God,
We dedicate this history book.
A History of the First Congregational Church of Westminster
And here we are today journeying onward as our ancestors before us who would encounter unending wilderness inhabited only by an occasional Indian hunting party in search of wild game or fish. Today we have paved roads where not a marked road existed for our ancestors. It was their FAITH in trusting God even when they didn’t understand his plan.
In 1742, Elisha Marsh became our first settled Pastor with a yearly salary of 45 English Pounds or $8945 in today’s (1992) currency. Today there are 609 churches in the new Southern New England Conference spreading the word of God. Our church history book commemorating our 250th Anniversary was written in 1992 by a dedicated group of church members. In 2042 we will celebrate our 300 Anniversary.
“For 250 years the gospel has been preached in this community in the tradition of Congregationalism. As we thus celebrate the 250th anniversary of the organization of the church, opportunity is provided for us to reflect on the VISION, determination, FAITH and commitment of our forebears. Of Pastors Marsh and Rice and Mann; of Siegle and Phelps and Morrow; of Fasth and Lynehan….Buildings have been built, children and youth educated, poor served, missionaries sent out, the young married, the old buried. In the midst of all of this was the rich sense of God’s omnipotence and love, care and grace. The buildings, the resources, the FAITH handed to us is rich beyond measure. Let us with similar vision, determination, FAITH and commitment go forward.”
Reverend Donald Richter, January 1992
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