Skip directly to content

Our Place in History


First Church Glastonbury is a contemporary church, open to new ideas, committed to justice, and actively engaged in living God's word in the real world. We are, however, shaped by our celebrated history, extending back nearly 325 years to the founding of the Town of Glastonbury.



In the 1600s, many native tribes lived along the great tidal river they called "Quinnihticut". Among these were the Wongunk Indians, who lived on the east side of the river. The Wongunks planted corn, pumpkins, squash, beans and sweet potatoes in Great Meadow, fished for shad and hunted the wildlife, which was abundant along the river. Sub-tribes of the Wongunk included the Nayaugs and Naubucs, names still familiar in Glastonbury.


In 1634, about 10 settlers from John Winthrop's Massachusetts settled Wethersfield, on the west banks of the Connecticut River. There is some indication that the Wongunks may have welcomed this development, looking for protection from the more aggressive Pequot and Mohawk tribes. A few years later, some of the settlers began to move east to the land that would become Glastonbury. The Wongunk taught the settlers to plant and fish in the fertile Great Meadow area. In the 1870's, the settlers purchased a large tract of land from the Wongunks.


A generation later, in 1689, the settlement petitioned Wethersfield to be a separate township. Wethersfield granted the petition in 1690 on the stipulation that Glastonbury first create its own ministry. This was the time of the "established church" which received tax funding and performed many of the functions of government including establishing laws and educating children. Church and state would not be separate in Glastonbury until 1818. In 1692 the new town appointed Timothy Stevens as pastor of the "First Society". His home still stands south of the Green. One year later the town leaders built the first Meetinghouse on the Glastonbury Green, to be used for both worship and town meetings. And so began the history of First Church.

Our Meetinghouse


First Church has had five buildings since it was established in 1692. The congregation's determination in the face of natural disaster has been a hallmark of First Church. The initial Meetinghouse on the Green was enlarged in 1706 and stood until destroyed by fire on the night of December 9, 1734. A second Meetinghouse was erected in 1735 a quarter of a mile south of the Green and was used for a century. In 1836, the First Society divided into north and south and that Meetinghouse was abandoned and then demolished. A new Meetinghouse, with a bell tower and clock, was built a bit further to the north in 1837. It was enlarged in 1858 but sadly burned to the ground on the morning of Sunday, December 23, 1866.   
Undaunted, the congregation built a new church with a graceful spire in 1877. In 1938, a hurricane brought the spire crashing down into the Sanctuary. The church that now stands was built the following year on the same site. In 1960's and 70's the church was expanded to include an education wing and a widening of the Sanctuary. Our beautiful Meetinghouse is a testament to the colonial heritage and the indomitable spirit of our congregation. We are now bringing it into the 21st century with new media capabilities, blending the past and present.

Our Broader Church Affiliation


Glastonbury's Puritan Congregational First Society became a part of the Missionary Society of Connecticut, founded in 1798, and subsequently the Congregational Christian Conference of Connecticut in 1867. In 1957 we became a part of the newly formed Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ. As part of both the Missionary Society and the United Church of Christ, we have been engaged for well over a century in justice issues of the day, including abolitionism, women's rights, economic inequality, and rights relating to sexual and gender identity. Our history and tradition is one of social justice as a means of living out the Gospel and God's Word for our lives.