THE FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH OF WEST HAVEN

Welcome

Welcome to The First Congregational Church of West Haven, a member of the United Church of Christ! Our doors are open wide to all those seeking to find a safe, but invigorating place for spiritual life, growth, fellowship and service. Wherever you are on your spiritual journey, you are welcome here.


We hope you will join us some Sunday morning when our worship begins at 10:30 AM. You will find that you are surrounded by people just like you – people filled with hopes and fears, joys and sorrows, strengths and weaknesses. Our common thread is that we are all committed to growing in our faith and letting our faith propel our actions in this world.


Whether you are a spiritual seeker who’s just starting to ask questions about God, or a committed believer who wants to sink the roots of your faith even deeper, you can find a home at The First Congregational Church of West Haven.



Our Firsts

Our church was the first organization of any kind in West Haven, then known as West Farms.


The first bank in West Farms was run by our church.


The first school in West Farms was run by our church.


Our church was the original authority figure for West Farms, because early government was a theocracy.


The first public library in Connecticut was created by our pastor Rev. Williston, which functioned from 1792 to 1909.


Our sanctuary served as the original meeting place for West Farms.



Our History

In 1638, the community originally known as the West Side, later known as West Farms, and ultimately known as West Haven, was first settled. For centuries, it was a farming community, and provided most of the crops to feed the New Haven Colony. As years passed, it became a shipbuilding community, serving the growing needs of Long Wharf. Even later on, it became a manufacturing community, which supplied the country with buckles and automobile tires.


In 1719, over eighty years after the West Side was settled, First Church came into being. The West Side farmers were tired of making the twelve mile round trip into New Haven for worship every Sunday, so they petitioned for their own church. That petition was originally denied, but the stubborn farmers persisted until they got their way.


The original First Church sanctuary had no steeple, no bell, and no source of heat. The faithful were called to worship by a drummer. Sunday worship was an all-day affair, and we can only wonder how the congregation could stand the many hours in an unheated building in the dead of winter. Some brought stones, heated on their hearths, to warm their feet.


The church was built on a place called “the Commons” which denoted common ground for the use of the community. The Commons—now called West Haven Green--were at the head of a salt marsh that extended all the way down to the shore.  Indeed, Old Field Creek rose on the Commons in the form of a pond that has since been piped underground. This spot was long used for the feeding and watering of the local livestock.


Over the years, First Church has had three separate sanctuary buildings. The First was built in 1719. The second was built in 1851, and burned to the ground in 1857. The third was built in 1859, at a cost of $10,000; it is still in use today.


From this church have come many who have volunteered:  some were called to the ministry; some were called to missionary service; some have served in many capacities as leaders in this community; and a great many have joined in the uniformed services of this country.


First Congregational Church, therefore, has a long and proud history as the first organization of any kind to be established in West Haven.  Our rich history is thus filled with centuries of proud and important ministry and service to this community.  We should all take pride in our church’s contributions to the community of West Haven!​​​​​​​

UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST

UCC Story

The United Church of Christ (UCC) is a distinct and diverse community of Christians that come together as one church to join faith and action.  With over 5,000 churches and nearly one million members across the U.S., the UCC serves God in the co-creation of a just and sustainable world.  The UCC is a church of firsts, a church of extravagant welcome, and a church where "…they may all be one" (John 17:21).


Church of Firsts

Since 1957, the United Church of Christ has been the church of firsts, weaving God’s message of hope and extravagant welcome with action for justice and peace. Together, the UCC lives out faith in ways that effect change in our communities.  The UCC's many "firsts" mean that we have inherited a tradition of acting upon the demands of our faith.  When we read in Galatians: "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus"—a demand is made upon us. And so the UCC was the first historically white denomination to ordain an African-American, the first to ordain a woman, the first to ordain an openly gay man, and the first Christian church to affirm the right of same-gender couples to marry. The UCC was in the forefront of the anti-slavery movement and the Civil Rights movement.  The UCC's response to the demands of our faith is woven into the history of our country.

Extravagant Welcome

Today, the UCC continues to change lives throughout the world, working alongside more than 200 mission partners. The UCC is dedicated to fight injustice ceaselessly, in the United States and abroad. The UCC instills their vision into youth and young adults, forging leaders who will imagine new dreams. The UCC sustains and develops church leaders, pastors, and local churches to live their faith in exciting new ways.  The UCC stands firm in its belief that God is still speaking, a God that is all-loving and inclusive.  The UCC is a church that welcomes and accepts everyone as they are, where your mind is nourished as much as your soul.


The UCC is a church where Jesus the healer meets Jesus the revolutionary, and where together, we grow a just and peaceful world.