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Our History

First and foremost, we are a community of people, from many different walks of life, doing our best to faithfully follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. We believe that we do this best when we live as members of an intentional community rooted in compassion, generosity and justice. 


At First Church we are connected to each other in fellowship, and to the world in mission. We worship and share Communion together. We give from our time, talent and treasure to shape our society into a more just and loving place for all of God’s children. We especially emphasize caring for the world’s most vulnerable people. 


Jesus said “Come and follow me”. He instructed his followers to love their neighbor, and their enemy; to feed the hungry, visit the sick, and care for the stranger. If you also hear that call, then come, just as you are, and you will find a home here too.

First Church building at sunset in the snow


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 1670's, the settlers purchased a large tract of land from the Wongunks.​

First Church stands on land originally populated by the Wangunks, a tribe of the Algonquin Nation. We acknowledge this land was sacred to them, as it is to us today.

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.

The Micah House and Chapel at the Thomas Hale Homestead

It’s exciting that First Church is now using this wonderful addition to our campus. The Micah House and Chapel is used for numerous church activities, including worship, meetings, youth fellowship, Advent Messy Church and Micah Moment presentations. It was also on the Glastonbury Historical Society’s Home for the Holidays House Tour.


One of the main project goals was to ensure that as much of the old Hale House as possible could be reused in the transformation to our new Micah House and Chapel. This started from the very bottom of the old homestead. The original fieldstone and brick foundation was no longer structurally sound and needed to be removed and reconstructed.  As a result, the original foundation, consisting of over 25 tons of fieldstone and thousands of old bricks, needed to be removed and set aside. Volunteers sorted and cleaned the bricks and stacked the foundation stone on pallets. The cleaned bricks were reused to provide a brick veneer face on the new foundation. The beautiful stone retaining wall and two sitting walls in the patio are all constructed from the Hale House foundation stone.


In 2017, volunteers spent countless hours meticulously removing all the trim, parlor paneling and doors from the rooms on the first and second floors. Every piece was labeled and eventually stored in a big trailer in the back of the property. All this material was returned to the Micah House and Chapel by another group of volunteers. The exceptional craftsmen working on this project recreated the first-floor parlors and foyer using all the original trim, paneling and doors. In some rooms, they used their talents to replicate the Hale House trim for new doorways and openings. These are some examples of how the Building Committee salvaged materials from the Hale House homestead to find a home in the new Micah House.


Take a moment to look outside when you are visiting church or attending Sunday worship services. Thank you to everyone in the First Church community who contributed and who worked tirelessly to make this vision into an amazing reality.​


Our beloved faith community’s gift and vision will serve First Church today and for future generations!!

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.  

United Church of Christ - Origins

The United Church of Christ came into being in 1957 with the union of two Protestant denominations: the Evangelical and Reformed Church and the Congregational Christian Churches. Each of these was, in turn, the result of a union of two earlier denominations. The Congregational Churches were organized when the Pilgrims of Plymouth Plantation (1620) and the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony (1629) acknowledged their essential unity in the Cambridge Platform of 1648. The Reformed Church in the United States traced its beginnings to congregations of German settlers in Pennsylvania founded from 1725 on. Later, its ranks were swelled by Reformed folk from Switzerland and other countries. The Christian Churches sprang up in the late 1700s and early 1800s in reaction to the theological and organizational rigidity of the Methodist, Presbyterian and Baptist Churches of the time. The Evangelical Synod of North American traced its beginning to an association of German Evangelical pastors in Missouri. This association, founded in 1840, reflected the 1817 union of Lutheran and Reformed churches in Germany. Through the years, members of other groups such as Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, Volga Germans, Armenians, Hungarians, and Hispanic Americans have joined with the four earlier groups. Thus the United Church of Christ celebrates and continues a wide variety of traditions in its common life.

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