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Central Village Congregational

Church History

Residents of Central Village who were Congregationalists had been attending the Plainfield church, but in 1845, the North Plainfield Ecclesiastical Society was formed and held its first meeting in the little brick schoolhouse near the Evergreen Cemetery. Fourteen people were present and signed a document to become a society for “establishing religious worship” and chose a committee to draw up a constitution and bylaws. In the same year, they purchased land for a church building.

The church was completed and dedicated in January 1846. Forty-five members of the Plainfield church, who were residents of Central Village, sent a letter to the Plainfield church in March requesting transfer to the new church. The first pastor was Rev. Jared Knapp, and during his pastorate of four years the membership doubled. In 1896, the 50th anniversary of the church was celebrated.

An interesting note - in 1918, the Ladies Aid Society sent a telegram to Senator McLean in Washington, D.C. to urge him to vote “yes” on the Women’s Suffrage Amendment. The church has a copy of that telegram in their archives.

The greatest growth of the church was made in the years 1919-1925 during the pastorate of Rev. Mary Macomber when the membership doubled. As far as can be determined, she was the first female minister in the local area. She is remembered as serving not only the church, but the entire community, very well. She was also the first pastor to occupy the parsonage at Ladd’s Corner.

In 1927, a fine Hall pipe organ was installed in the church. Again, renovations had to be made to make room for the organ.

From 1930-1936 poor economic conditions in local industries became a financial problem, and his was also evident in the churches. The Plainfield and Central Village congregations voted to share a pastor. From 1937-1946, the Central Village and Wauregan churches developed a close relationship and they shared a pastor.

The church structure suffered serious damage in the 1938 hurricane, the most devastating being the demolition of the belfry; however, the church body rose to the occasion and repairs were completed within a short time. The original bell tower was replace by the present steeple.

In September of 1946, the 100th anniversary celebration took place. In anticipation of that event the church interior was redecorated, and again in 1965 renovations were made to the downstairs vestry.

It should be noted that Rev. Gordon Johnson occupied the pulpit for 30 years of continuous service, from 1965 to 1997. This is indeed an incredible statistic.