twelve men had a vision to establish their own church in Preston, after a thirty-eight year association with our mother church, The First Congregational Church of Norwich, on Norwich Green. On
November 16, 1698, Salmon Treat was ordained as the first minister and The First Church of Preston was established.
Twelve men had seen their vision become a reality in only twelve years. These men had petitioned the state for the organization of a township at Preston and received permission. They had secured a minister and provided him with one hundred acres of land. These same twelve had established a fund to provide the minister with a salary of 50 pounds a year and had erected the first meetinghouse. Salmon Treat remained as minister for forty-six years.
By 1716, the population had increased significantly and a second ecclesiastical
society was brought into existence. The First Church of Preston was referred to as the South Society and the North Society was established at Pachaug
(Griswold). The Second or North Society of Preston was in existence for one
hundred years, when in 1815, Griswold organized as a town.
In February 1737, the General Assembly was once again petitioned for a new and larger meetinghouse, as we were still using the original building. The second meetinghouse was completed on February 8, 1740, in just over two years. In 1747 there was another change in the congregation, one of discord.
The Great Awakening was spreading throughout New England and Preston was not left out of this movement. Six members of our church formed the Separate Church of Preston and many soon followed them to this new evangelical society. This new church was not long-lasting and July 27, 1817 saw the final recorded minutes of the Separatist Church. Slowly, we gained membership and in 1802 needed funds for an even larger building. It was in this third building our Sunday School was established by our third minister Rev. Hyde, and his wife. The Ladies Aid and missions began during this pastorate as well. In 1812 a significant number of members left our church when the Baptist Church was established. Loss of members did not necessarily mean loss of spirit, and during the pastorate of our sixth minister, the temperance movement was quite an issue.
On March 19, 1886, an unexpected fire burned the church. It is said that the very next day, before the ashes had cooled, plans were drawn to rebuild. As a means of raising funds to rebuild, the bell was melted down into smaller bells and sold for one dollar. During the rebuilding, services were held at the Baptist Church. The dedication of our fourth, and present building, was held on February 22, 1887.
Independence is a characteristic of Congregationalism and we have certainly shown ours, especially in the early twentieth century when a succession of ministers came and left, with none staying longer than six years. During the mid-1950's, the interior of the church was redesigned, and bathrooms, an entrance hall, and furnace room were added. When many Congregational churches voted (in 1957) to merge with the Evangelical and Reformed Church, to form the United Church of Christ, our congregation voted to remain independent. In the spring of 1987, the membership unanimously approved to unite with the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches, which emphasizes the autonomy of the local church. It was in the 1990's under the leadership of our 29th and present minister, Stan White, that transformations once again began.
The Church voted to purchase four and one half acres of land that included a farmhouse, outbuildings and a small house, for the future expansion. The house was turned into an office; the parking lot was expanded. The "Field of Dreams" was cleared and dedicated in 1995 and more importantly, we burned our 30-year mortgage, having paid off our debt in less than five years. The contributions of the women of our church have been many. Most recently, Millie Ford was elected our 1st female Deacon in 1986. Sandy Dudek was selected as the first paid Director of Religious Education and Administrative Assistant in 1991. Sue Brosnan was elected as the 1st Church Historian in 1999 and Cindy Lowe was elected as 1st female Trustee in 2001.
In our over three hundred years of worship, we have experienced many changes, both spiritual and physical. Our vision to expand the Sunday School became reality on April 29, 2001 when an historic vote to expand the Sunday School was passed with only one dissenting vote. The ground breaking for this expansion took place in June 2001. With a strong faith and God's blessing, our vision has become reality.
The Preston City Congregational Church does indeed have a rich heritage, and now looks forward with faith and confidence to a bright future, living its motto
"Where Friends Become Family."
Preston City Congregational Church
321 Route 164
Preston, CT 06365
Office: (860) 886-7200
Phone: (860) 887-4647
Fax: (860) 887-4647
Where Friends Become
Sunday Worship: 9 & 10:30 am
Sunday School: 8:45 am
Click on the link below for live webstreaming of our worship service!
Website contact: Barbara Perry