Church History

Town Hall Church

Town Hall building that used to be the Congregational church.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE FEDERATED CHURCH

The Congregational or Town Church, has existed from 1727 or soon after the incorporation of the Town.  There were three pastors during the first seventy-five years of its history.  Rev. Daniel Fuller was the first settled pastor, being ordained September 11, 1728.  He served the church for over thirty years.  Rev. Gideon Noble, the second pastor, also ministered to the church thirty years.  Rev. Abishai Alden, the third pastor remained eleven years.  Rev. Hubbel Loomis was settled as the fourth pastor August 29, 1804.  He labored twenty-four years.

From its beginning, our church has had a desire to nurture children in their faith, and to teach them the Bible.  The first deacon of this church was John Merrick, who began our Sabbath School in June of 1815.  This Sabbath School was the first one established in Tolland County.

The Willington Baptist Church was organized on December 18, 1828, and came into being as a result of loyalty to conviction.  Rev. Hubbel Loomis, the fourth pastor of the Congregational Church, was prominent both as a minister and an educator, and founder of Shurtleff College of Illinois.  During his pastorate in Willington, Mr. Loomis had strong tendencies toward Baptist sentiments.  The result was that he with several of his members came out from the Congregational Church and formed the nucleus of a Baptist Church in Willington.

This church has had a noble record in the work of missions, especially in her giving to the cause where the Vintons labored and lay down their lives in the rich fields of Burma.  In 1866 Truman Johnson, M.D. and his wife Jennie, members of the church, also went to Burma and established 23 churches, nine schools, and several medical centers in the hill sections.  It was voted by this church in 1920 that its offerings to the New World Movement should be used to erect a building at the Judson College in Rangoon, Burma, to be called “Willington Hall” in loving memory of the Vintons and Johnsons.

The two churches continued their separate ministries until 1911.  At that time, Rev. Earle Darrow was pastor of the Baptist Church.  Since there was no pastor at the Congregational Church, they decided to unite the two churches.  A committee was appointed from each Church to meet together, and after much careful and prayerful thought, Articles of Federation were drawn up and presented to the Churches.  These articles which united the two churches in worship and service, but allowed each church to retain its own separate organization, were accepted by the two churches and they are now known as “The Federated Church of Willington.”

On October 22, 1911 the Clara Hall Elliott Memorial Church was completed and dedicated as a memorial to Clara Hall Elliott, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Gardiner Hall, Jr.  With the completion of this beautiful Sanctuary, the Federated Church was now able to worship in two locations, thus expanding its ministry within the town of Willington.

In 1924, the Old Congregational meeting house, which was erected in 1877, was sold for $1 to the Town of Willington with certain restrictions, the most important of which was that, if it should cease to be used for public meetings under the control of the selectmen, possession would revert to the Congregational Ecclesiastical Society.

Since its founding in 1911, the Federated Church has had a calling to minister to the needs of the community.  We have been able to reach out to many people in times of crisis and help meet their needs, both spiritually and physically, by providing food, fuel, and other necessities.

More recently, in 2006 and 2007, we were able to help families who lost their homes in fires.  Each year our Vacation Bible School is involved in a mission project, rotating between national and international causes.  Between the VBS missions, and humanitarian mission projects that members of our church family have gone on, we have been able to support the people of and bring God’s Word to places such as West Virginia, Arizona, Mississippi, Turkmenistan, Togo and Estonia.

With the Lord’s help, it is our desire to continue ministering to the people in our community, our nation, and the world.  It is our prayer that the Federated Church of Willington will faithfully proclaim God’s grace and love, to the glory of our Saviour, Jesus Christ for many centuries to come.

“In essentials Unity,

In non-essentials Liberty,

In all things Charity.”

Resources:
Hand Book of The Federated Church of Willington, Willington, CT. 1951
Deemers, Ronald F. A History of Willington, Connecticut. Massachusetts. The Studley Press, Inc. 1983

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