History of the First Unitarian Congregational Society and of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashua, 1926-1976
© 1976, 2001 Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashua
What follows hereafter is not merely a history of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashua, but rather an unfolding vivid moving picture of where the Church has been, where it is today and maybe thereby an indication of its future. In contrast with other histories, you will find that it is not simply a compilation of dates, statistics and annual reports. It is instead a history that attempts to portray the people involved, their different philosophies, their goals and accomplishments. In this way, the author makes it possible for you to have a rapport with so many people who have made this Church possible and through the insight gained thereby, perhaps to help and encourage you (present and future members of the Church) to continue to have the Church contribute in a meaningful way to the lives of all persons who come in contact with it.
As the history of so many churches has shown in the past, the health of any church is determined by three variables: its physical assets, its members, and its ministers. You are encouraged to keep these three variables in mind as you read the history of this Church. In doing so, you will find that the prudent management of all of its assets, both buildings and investments, is apparent throughout its history. All buildings of the Church, whether it be the construction of the original buildings, additions thereto, or the renovations thereof, have always been given careful thought such that they esthetically reflect the underlying philosophy of the members of the Church. Reserve funds for property maintenance have been established to make certain that when a major item has to be periodically replaced or repaired, that there are sufficient funds to meet the need. The prudent management of the Church's investments has been demonstrated in that even with inflation, the income from these investments has for many years provided at least one half of the Church operating budget.
As for the second variable, namely the members themselves, history will show the Church has attracted and continues to attract persons of all ages and of diverse backgrounds. In addition, no one group has attempted to run the Church to the exclusion of any other group. Persons who have been members for many years have encouraged new members to become active in the Church. All members are given an opportunity to participate in its activities, the Executive Committee and the various operating divisions of the Church. Even the Church Bylaws expressly provide for rotation of members on the Executive Committee. The number and diversity of the Church divisions give each member an opportunity to select that division for which he considers himself best suited. Throughout the history, you will note the names of the many different people who have played a leading role in the Church. Supporting them have been thousands of others over the years who have actively participated and helped in the development and maintenance of the Church.
As for the third variable, each of the ministers has contributed in his own way to strengthen the Church. As for the present minister, namely Donald W. Rowley, a Church could not ask for a greater contribution than he has made over the past twenty years. Through his own personal character, philosophy and dedication he has made this Church and what it stands for as meaningful as possible to all its members, attempting to enrich their own lives and to help them to be better able to meet their own personal challenges. This is self-evident when you look at the time he devotes to all aspects of the Church and its members in addition to his participation in activities on the local and state level as well as affairs of the Unitarian Universalist Association. A prime example of his dedication is this history which has been written by him after many hours of research and thought. His spirit pervades throughout the Church. It is usually difficult to get people to agree on the definition of a good minister. But, without question, Donald W. Rowley is the best definition yet of such a minister.
"What is the state of the Church, sir?"
"It is sound and well, sir--especially with our present minister."
-- David C. Hamblett
The First Unitarian Congregational Society in Dunstable, now Nashua, was formed on September 11, 1826. The church edifice was dedicated on June 27, 1827.
In 1956 the members of the First Universalist Society in Nashua voted to consolidate with the Unitarian Church, and in 1957 the two churches formed one corporation under the name of The Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashua, New Hampshire.
In 1936 a history of the Universalist Church in Nashua was completed by Robert N. French, church historian. It is called "One Hundred Years of Universalism", and was written for the centennial observance of the organizing of the First Universalist Parish of Nashua, on October 4, 1835.
Earlier the First Universalist Society was formed in 1818. From 1830 to 1835 the Universalists worshipped with the Unitarians in the present Unitarian Universalist Church. After forming their own Parish in 1835 the Universalists held services in the Old South Meeting House until 1839, when they occupied their new meeting house at the corner of Main and High Streets. In 1881 the Parish purchased the Pearl Street Congregational Church building on the northeast corner of East Pearl and Main Streets. This was their church home until consolidation with the Unitarian Church. In 1953 the Universalist Parish sold the Pearl Street property to the Nashua Trust Company for $110,000.00. They joined with The Unitarians, on a cooperative basis, for worship and the church school program. In 1956 they voted to consolidate with the Unitarian Church, thus forming the present Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashua.
During the first one hundred years of its history the Universalist Parish was served by twenty two pastors. The Reverend William Morrison served the church for sixteen years, which was the longest pastorate. The ministers who served the church from 1935 to 1956 were:
1931-1939 The Reverend Arthur A. Blair
1939-1943 The Reverend Ernest Marble
1943-1947 The Reverend Fred Miller
1947-1950 The Reverend Ralph P. Boyd
1950-1954 The Reverend Myles Blanchard
A copy of "One Hundred Years of Universalism" is on file at the church office.
Leonard Freeman Burbank's "History of the First Unitarian Society in Dunstable," now Nashua, was published in 1926 for the one hundredth anniversary of the organization of the First Unitarian Congregational Society in Dunstable.
This book records the history of the Society from the time it was formed in 1826, at the home of Daniel Abbot, to 1926. The present church building was dedicated on June 27, 1827. Mr. Burbank records that the cost to build the church and to ordain the first minister was $4,154.85. The interior was remodeled in 1875, and again in 1924.
In the first one hundred years of its history the church was served by sixteen ministers. The Reverend Otto Lyding, who served the church from 1920 to 1945, held the longest pastorate in the history of the church.
Mr. Burbank records the names of many men and women who were devoted members of the church, and also benefactors of the larger community.
The church minutes of 1924 and 1925 record resolutions expressing the members' esteem and affection for two such members whose deaths occurred in these two years - Harry M. Hobson and L. Frank Stevens. The resolutions are as follows:
RESOLUTION - Mr. Hobson
"The members and friends of the First Unitarian Church in Nashua, N.H., at their annual meeting in November, 1924 voted to inscribe in the records of the church their sentiments concerning their beloved friend Harry M. Hobson.
"From early childhood up to the time of his departure from our midst this was his church home. As his father and mother did before him, so he loved and cherished the church itself. To him our church stood for the purest and highest expression of our Christian religion. He was proud of its contribution to the liberalizing influence of his own beloved country. His deep devotion to the church and to the cause which it represented resulted in a contagious enthusiasm affecting everyone within our group with whom he worked. His joy at every successful achievement among us was unbounded. In this way he was a constant inspiration to the members of our Women's Alliance.
"Throughout Mr. Hobson's long life, spent mostly in Nashua, he constantly ministered with a most generous hand to the needs of his fellowmen; -to some in their destitution, leadership through education. No one knows the extent of his generosity. The last few years, however, of his life revealed through many sources that he must have ministered during his long life to almost an immeasurable number of human souls. He was as generous in his judgments of other people as he was in his desire to help those in need. His decision to have all debts due him cancelled at the time of his going was characteristic of him. Above all else he was unshakably loyal to those who had ever been good to him, and his last will and testament is a revelation to this sublime attitude of mind. Merciful to those who had wronged him, perhaps, and most loyal to those who were his friends.
"As members of our church and as Christians we are able to see in the life of Harry M. Hobson that the teachings of our religion are valid in the realm of truth. However sad we may be because of Mr. Hobson's going from us, his going reveals even a greater fact, and that is that his long life with us has been a rich and an inspiring blessing, for we have as a heritage from his life the consciousness of his great contribution to our own lives, and that while he may be away from us his influence upon us will never pass away from our memory and will never fail to have the most salutary effect upon our future."
(Signed) I. Frank Stevens
RESOLUTION - L. FRANK STEVENS
"The members of the Unitarian Congregational Society of Nashua, looking to the Universal Father for guidance and consolation, realize that in the death of L. Frank Stevens, they have lost a friend, adviser and fellow worker of inestimable worth, a friend tried and true, an adviser with wisdom and vision, and a fellow worker willing, helpful and dependable.
"Resolved, That in testimony of their regard for his loyalty, humanity and faith, this society tender to the family of our true and honored friend its heartfelt sympathy.
"That these resolutions become part of the records of the society in lasting recognition of our esteem for one whose part in life was well done and who has passed to his reward in the great beyond where sooner or later we must all go."
It was the loyalty and dedication of many such men and women that made possible the achievements of the first one hundred years of the Unitarian and Universalist Churches in Nashua.
Mr. L. Frank Stevens had served as Chairman of the Prudential Committee of the First Unitarian Congregational Society of Nashua. In future years three of his sons, L. Blaine Stevens, Philip Ellis Stevens, and John B. Stevens were also to serve in this position. Philip Ellis Stevens also served as treasurer of the church for 25 years. At the time of his resignation from this position in 1952 the members of the church presented him with an attractively framed certificate of recognition.
HISTORY OF THE FIRST UNITARIAN
CONGREGATIONAL SOCIETY AND OF THE
UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST CHURCH
As Burbank's history of the first one hundred years of the church began. with the organization of the church and the construction of the church building, so the next fifty years of history begins with the construction of the Parish House. The Parish House has two attractive social rooms, a large auditorium with stage, and a dining room and kitchen. It was built on the westerly side of the church, and is connected to it by a short hallway or vestibule.
If it had not been for World War I the Parish House would probably have been part of our first one hundred years of history, rather than part of the second. On October 4, 1915, on a motion by L. Frank Stevens, a committee was appointed to investigate plans for a Parish House. The committee was unable to obtain property on the west side of the church for such a building. In 1916 a second committee was appointed, consisting of L. Frank Stevens and Walter Whipple. In 1917 this committee reported that it had plans for a Parish House, but because of the war and the high cost of construction it had decided not to present the proposal to the Society at this time. In 1923 Mr. Whipple explained the plans for the Parish House, and for moving the church "easterly about 20 feet and northerly about 10 feet" so that the Parish House could be built on the westerly side of the church. (The moving of the church was necessary because the cemetery extended so closely along the westerly side of the church that there was not adequate room for a building between the church and the cemetery lots. Moving the church made adequate space available.)
At the Annual Meeting in 1926 the Reverend Otto Lyding urged the members to build a Parish House to provide space for Sunday School and for social gatherings for adults. A committee, consisting of Philip Ellis Stevens and Eugene W. Leslie, was appointed to consider the feasibility of building a Parish House in the summer of 1927. In March, 1928 the members voted to build the Parish House. Mr. Walter Whipple, chairman of the Prudential Committee, appointed Philip Ellis Stevens, Eugene Leslie and Mrs. Arno Gatz to serve as the committee. Later a committee was appointed to have charge of purchasing furnishings for the Parish House. Its members were Mr. Herbert Robbe, Mrs. Sam Dearborn, Mrs. Pearley Fletcher, Mrs. Fred Plummer and Mrs. Edward Smith.
The Parish House, designed by James A. Perkins of Haverhill, Massachusetts, was completed in 1929, and the Annual Meeting of 1929 was the first Annual Meeting to be held there. Previously the Annual Meetings had been held in various public or fraternal buildings in Nashua. The Parish House added a major facility to the church, giving it excellent rooms for meals, social gatherings, dances, lectures, and stage productions. It also provided space for Sunday School classes in these same rooms. It was a major undertaking for the church at that time, but has served church purposes well for over forty years. It is kept in excellent condition and is now used for a wide range of church programs, and for meetings of many community organizations. It is also used for the church youth programs and meetings.
The total cost of the Parish House was $41,724.18 for the building, and $5,097.55 for the furnishings. Following is the accounting of the financing of the project.
Special contributions to Parish House Building Fund 1928 to 1935 inclusive $10,528.66
From sale of old (Mt. Pleasant Street) Parsonage - 1928 5,000.00
From Woman's Alliance - Vestry and Alliance Funds - toward Parish House furnishings during 1929 2,124.72
From Woman's Alliance - Gift of Miss Tuttle - for Parish House furnishings during 1929 200.00
Various gifts for Parish House furnishings during 1929 148.00
Sunday School gift toward Parish House - 1930 100.00
Paid by church from income during 1935 to 1944 church years inclusive toward Parish House 9,250.00
Withdrew from invested funds toward payment of Parish House from 1934 to 1943 church years inclusive 19,470.35
An interest free loan of $18,500.00 from the American Unitarian Association was very helpful in financing the building. In the Spring of 1948 a mortgage burning ceremony was held at the church, marking the completion of the paying for the building.
Another significant addition to church property was made in 1920 when a committee of Mr. Albert J. McKean, Mr. I. Frank Stevens, and Mr. Walter Whipple arranged for the purchase of the parsonage at 78 Concord Street. This spacious and beautiful house, situated on a large, well landscaped lot is an unusually fine parsonage. Its purchase for $16,000.00 was made possible by a $10,000.00 gift from L. Frank Stevens. It was purchased from Judge Charles W. Hoitt, a well known Nashua attorney.
The Reverend Otto Lyding became minister of the church in 1920. His pastorate was to become the longest in the history of the Society, lasting for a quarter of a century. His resignation became effective May 1, 1945. Mr. Lyding was a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Divinity School. His ministry was one of loyal, scholarly, and friendly service to the church and the community. At the Annual Meeting in 1945 the members passed the following resolution:
"That in recognition of his many years of loyal service to our Society and in view of the fact that he has retired from the active ministry, we designate Reverend Otto Lyding as minister Emeritus of our Society."
Following his resignation from this church, Mr. Lyding served the Unitarian churches in Manchester, N.H. and in Walpole, N.H. Mr. and Mrs. Lyding returned to Nashua in 1956 and resumed an active role in the life of the church. Mr. Lyding died in 1957. Frederick May Eliot, President of the American Unitarian Association, notified the Unitarian ministers of Mr. Lyding's death by the following message:
Otto Lyding, minister-emeritus of our church in Nashua, New Hampshire, died on April 10, in his 77th year. He was a man of rugged faith, of unquestioned moral integrity, of extraordinary tenderness of spirit, whose loyal friendship was a mighty reinforcement for many of us.
Frederick May Eliot
Mrs. Lyding, a graduate of Smith College, was active in the church throughout Mr. Lyding's ministry. A woman of grace, dignity, and disciplined intellect, she was highly respected by church members and the larger community. She continued to be active in the church until 1973 when confinement due to ill health made further participation impossible.
The church voted on February 19, 1945 to call The Reverend Ernest Sommerfeld as its next minister. Mr. Sommerfeld had received his B.A. degree from Moravian College in 1931, and his B.D. degree from the same school in 1934. Mr. Sommerfeld resigned in 1947 to become minister of the Unitarian Church in Springfield, Massachusetts. Many years later he recalled that the Nashua church used no symbols and had no communion service. He recalled the theological climate of the church as being a mild theism, and the sociological stance as being basically conservative.
On October 30, 1947, at the Annual Meeting, the church called the Reverend Edward Cahill to succeed Mr. Sommerfeld. Mr. Cahill attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and received his A.B. and S.T.B. degrees from Tufts University in 1938. Mr. Cahill served as minister until November 1, 1951. He continued in a distinguished ministry, serving churches in Charlotte, N.C., Atlanta, Georgia, Pittsburgh, Pa., and is now minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Concord, N.H., and serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Unitarian Universalist Association.
On April 11, 1948 a new organ was presented to the church by Miss Anna Stearns and the Stevens family, in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Stearns and Mr. and Mrs. L. Frank Stevens.
Mr. E. B. Gammons, organist and choir master of Groton School, Groton, Massachusetts drew up the specifications for an organ best suited to the church. The Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company of Boston was given the contract to build the organ.
It was discovered that the pipes in the former organ were of exceptionally good quality and it was decided to retain them for use in the new organ as they were found to be in good condition by the Boston concern which examined them.
The present instrument is to all intents and purposes a new organ as all the windchests, action, console, expression boxes and blower have been made and designed expressly for the building. All the pipework was returned to the factory where it was gone over carefully and revoiced to insure the finest blending quality. The wood pipes were all fitted with new feet and wind regulators and turners, while the metal pipes and reeds were cleaned and fitted with slide tuners and every set of pipes was increased in compass.
As rebuilt, the organ now has two manuals and pedals, but the great and pedal organs are enclosed in a separate expression box from that of the swell organ so that the whole instrument is expressive and very flexible for accompaniment uses. Certain new stops have also been added to make the playing of a wider range of music feasible and the new console has every convenience for the organist.
The instrument now has 20 stops with provision made so that five more may be added should it ever be deemed advisable. There are 12 couplers and 18 fully adjustable combinations. The total number of pipes in the organ is 1,134.
The Service for the Dedication of the Church Organ, on April 11, 1948, was conducted by the Reverend Edward Cahill. The Reverend Otto Lyding gave the Prayer of Dedication. Mrs. Robert Campbell was the organist. In the Act of Dedication the minister and people made the following statement:
"We dedicate this organ to the worship of God and the service of man: to breathe the unspoken prayer with which the service begins; to speak a longing too deep for words and a love beyond our thought; to be as the shout of a great multitude praising God, as the voice of echoing trumpets; to sing the joy of happy festivals, and our thanksgiving for perils past; to whisper comfort to the broken-hearted, and to uplift the soaring triumph of immortal hopes; to awaken in all souls the melody of praise, and to bring them the peace which passeth understanding."
On April 20, 1948 an organ recital was presented with Mr. E. B. Gammons as the organist. At the Sunday service on April 8, 1973, Mrs. Janice Whittaker, the church organist, played selections by Bach, Franck, McKinley and Clokey in recognition of the twenty fifth anniversary of the dedication of the organ.
Music has always been a significant part of the services in this church, and several able organists have been staff members during these years, including Richard Foster, James Johnston, Martha Batista and Janice Whittaker.
On Sunday, October 28, 1951 the One Hundred and Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the church was celebrated at an evening service. Two former ministers returned to participate in this event. The Reverend Ernest H. Sommerfeld led the opening part of the service, and The Reverend Otto Lyding gave the prayer. Dr. Frederick May Eliot, President of The American Unitarian Association delivered the Anniversary Sermon. The readings and benediction were given by the minister, The Reverend Edward A. Cahill. The organist was Mrs. Robert Campbell and the soloist was Mr. Ralph Simmons.
On November 20, 1951 The Reverend Leon Fay was chosen as the next minister of the church. Mr. Fay received his A.B. and S.T.B. degrees from Tufts University in 1945. He served this church until 1957, when he resigned to become the Director of the Department of the Ministry at the Unitarian Association's national headquarters in Boston. Mr. Fay served in this position until 1966, contributing much to improving the standards of the Unitarian ministry, and gaining the friendship and respect of our ministers throughout the country. In 1966 he resigned this position to become minister of the Unitarian Church in Alburquerque, New Mexico.
During Mr. Fay's ministry here the Unitarian and Universalist churches merged into one church. The possibility of this merger had been discussed for many years.
In 1930 a committee was appointed by the Unitarian Church of Nashua to discuss with the Universalists the possibility of a merger of the two societies. The members of the Universalist Church of Nashua voted that such action was not advisable at that time. The vote was 61 to 25 against the merger.
On October 23, 1953 the following motion was adopted by the Unitarian Church, at its Annual meeting:
"Since it has come to our attention that the Nashua Universalist Church is considering the sale of its property and that the members of the Universalist Church in our community may be without a meeting place at some future date, it is therefore moved that this Society formally extend to our friends in the Universalist Church and their minister an invitation to share our worship and our premises on a functional basis until such time as they decide upon their future course of action, and in the event of such occurrence, our Prudential Committee be authorized to work out suitable arrangements for such sharing of our premises."
Signed: Arthur S. Bolster
Clerk of the Society
The Universalists accepted this invitation, and on March 22, 1956 voted to consolidate with the Unitarian Society. The vote was 31 to 8. On April 12, 1956 the Unitarian Society expressed its desire to consolidate, and authorized the appointment of a committee to draw up plans for the consolidation.
Fifteen years later, Mr. Fay, reflecting on his ministry in Nashua, wrote that perhaps "the biggest thing was the unification of the Unitarian and Universalist Churches." He paid tribute to the help of The Reverend Miles Blanchard, minister of the Universalist Church, in making the merger a reality.
This merger was an important factor in strengthening the church, and in giving it both human and economic resources for developing a strong program and continuing growth. Within a few years the separate identities were totally forgotten and everyone belonged to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashua. The merger of the two denominations on the national level in 1960 was a factor in strengthening the local merger in that now the members all belonged not only to the same church but to the same denomination.
The consolidation was finalized on March 4, 1957. The Agreement of Consolidation was signed. for The First Universalist Society in Nashua, Inc. by Allen J. Whitney, President, and E. Norris Hall, Treasurer, and for The First Unitarian Congregational Society in Nashua by Roscoe M. Woodward, President, and Clinton P. Wallace, Treasurer.
The first meeting of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashua was held at 58 Lowell Street in Nashua, on March 4, 1957. Officers elected were:
Clerk: Mabel Griffith
Assistant Treasurer: John DeWitt
Philip Ellis Stevens was elected President of the Executive Committee, and David Hamblett was elected Vice President.
The first Annual Meeting of the Unitarian Universalist Church was held on October 24, 1957. Mr. David Hamblett conducted the meeting. At the conclusion of the meeting Mr. Hamblett read the purposes of the church as stated in the By-Laws. These are as follows:
"The purpose of this corporation shall be: (1) to maintain a place of worship in accordance with the traditions and usages of the Unitarian and Universalist denominations; (2) to provide opportunities for the study and practice of the Unitarian-Universalist religion; (3) to serve the community in ways of religious usefulness; (4) to advance the cause of Unitarian-Universalist liberal religion; (5) to maintain the free exercise of private judgment in all matters of belief, the preservation of personal integrity, the continuing search for truth through the use of critical inquiry, the democratic method in human relations and the obligation to work for the greater good of all humanity."
This began the tradition of reading these purposes at the close of each Annual Meeting, and that custom continues now.
Mr. Fay also recalled that when he came to Nashua the church was a type of family church in which everyone had been members for a long time and knew each other very well. They were very proud of their buildings and their church, and very loyal. However, at that time the church was not growing and needed some new members.
One of the things that helped was the closing of the Textron Corporation plants in Nashua. It appeared to be a disaster, and in some ways it was. Hundreds of people were left jobless, and the great mills along the river were left empty. However there was a brighter side also. A citizens' committee was able to rent these buildings to a wide variety of companies with a diversity of products. One of these new companies was Sanders Associates, which became a large electronics company. This brought many new people to the community, and many of them became members of the Unitarian Church.
The 1950's were the darkest days of the Joe McCarthy period. However, Mr. Fay was able to remain active in social action concerns and community programs. He recalls an Annual Meeting of the denomination, at which a resolution was passed protesting "In God We Trust" on stamps and coins. The Boston Globe reported it that morning, and when Mr. Fay arrived in Nashua by train he was met at the station by a delegation from the church seeking an explanation of the resolution. Those were tension-filled days for Unitarian ministers and congregations as the very freedoms of the church and the state were being threatened. The Nashua Church, like so many others, grew with the experience, and learned much about handling social issues effectively without destroying the rights of the individual within the church.
During the ministries of Mr. Cahill and Mr. Fay, the Religious Education Director of the church was Elmer Stelley. Mr. Stelley had a very active high school group within the church, and he developed a large community youth program of Friday night dances for junior high students and a Saturday night dance for high school youth. The church received a commendation from the Chief of Police for the best community youth program in the city. Many adult members of the church can recall their high school trips with Mr. Stelley to youth conferences and to Star Island summer conferences. Mr. Stelley later worked with youth groups in the Unitarian Universalist Churches in Manchester, N.H., and in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Following Mr. Fay's resignation, The Reverend Charles Richardson of Peterborough, N.H. served as interim minister for several months. On December 11, 1957 the church called The Reverend Donald W. Rowley to be the next minister. Mr. Rowley received his A.B. degree from Hartwick College in 1948, and his S.T.B. degree from the Harvard Divinity School in 1951. Before coming to Nashua he served as minister at the First Parish Church in Westford, Mass.
The records of the Unitarian Church show that in 1955 Mr. Pearley Fletcher proposed that the church erect a new building for the religious education program. The church was beginning to grow and more space was needed. The merger with the Universalists and the new members coming in from the new industries overloaded the parish house facilities. The auditorium was divided into five or six class rooms with moveable partitions. The same procedure was followed in the dining room. Classes were also held in the Laymen's League Room, and in the kitchen. The coffee hour after church was held in the Fellowship room. Any Sunday morning it was clear that the need for a new building was becoming acute.
The account of the fulfillment of this need is best told in remarks made by Philip Ellis Stevens, Chairman of the Building Committee, at the dedication of the building on Sunday, September 27, 1959.
"On Sunday, February 3, 1957, one of the most spectacular fires in Nashua in recent years occurred when the National Guard Armory at the corner of Canal and Grove Streets burned. Actually, this was not as tragic an event as in the case of most fires inasmuch as the New Hampshire National Guard was dissatisfied with the building for their Nashua operations and it resulted in this property becoming available to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashua for the erection of the new church school building which we are dedicating today.
"Following the fire, the Armory property was purchased by the church, and on February 27, 1958, a contract was let to the Lawrence Building Wrecking Company for the demolition of the old Armory.
"There being an urgent need for adequate church school classrooms, a Building Committee was appointed consisting of -
David C. Hamblett
Edward W. Hills
Roscoe M. Woodward
Philip Ellis Stevens, Chairman
"Mr. Rowley, our minister, was a regular attendant at Building Committee meetings, and like all the Committee members, contributed heavily in the development and execution of the plans.
"Shortly after its appointment, the Committee engaged the firm of Carter & Woodruff of Nashua, New Hampshire, as architects for the new building.
"Over an extended period of time members of the Building Committee met with representatives of all of the divisions and organizations of the church to determine the type of building most suited to our needs and within a cost which it was felt we could afford. At the Annual Meeting of the church in October 1958, it was voted to accept the Building Committee's definite recommendations and proceed with the erection of the new church school building, which we are today dedicating.
"On October 27, 1958, a contract was entered into with A. Taylor Corporation of Concord, New Hampshire, for the erection of this building.
"In connection with the financing of this new construction, the church found itself in an extremely favorable position. The primary source of funds came as a result of the sale of the Universalist Church building which was located on the Northeast corner of Main and East Pearl Streets together with the sale of the former Universalist Parsonage. These funds were augmented by a substantial portion of a bequest made to the Unitarian Church by the late Sadie M. Kenny and a large part of the furnishings of the new building were purchased with a gift from the late Mabel E. Chandler.
"The new school building is a two-story structure of contemporary design. Much credit is due the architects for the splendid manner in which the new building and landscaping tie in so beautifully with the church and Parish House, each of which was built during a previous era.
"The first floor comprises six play or classrooms for children through the age of five including a crib room and a hobby-craft room. The upper floor consists of classrooms for Grades I through 6, and in addition incorporates offices for the minister, Director of Religious Education and church secretary. Also, on the upper floor is a Chapel primarily for the worship services of the Church School. This Chapel will seat approximately 48 persons and is suitable for small weddings and funerals.
"I wish to thank my associates on the Building Committee for their close cooperation and the many hours spent by them in connection with the problems involved in the planning and building of the new church school. However, I am sure I speak for each one of them when I say that we have thoroughly enjoyed doing this.
I now perform my final duty as Chairman of the Building Committee. It is with a feeling of pride and deep satisfaction that I turn over the keys to the new Unitarian Universalist Church School Building to David C. Hamblett, President of the Church."
Philip Ellis Stevens, Chairman
Mr. David Hamblett, President of the church, accepted the keys to the new building from Mr. Stevens. Mr. Hamblett said that the building represented a trust from the past and an obligation to the future. He said, "The new Church School represents a new dedication, or rededication, of our thoughts and lives."
Mr. Edward Hills, Chairman of the Division of Education, and Mrs. Persis Kirwin, Religious Education Coordinator, spoke for the teachers and the children as they began the 1959-60 church year in the new building. Mrs. Kirwin, recalling our crowded conditions in the Parish House said, "In representing the teachers, may I say that only those who have worked in make-shift quarters, with their accompanying noise and confusion, and curtailment of activity, can really understand the fullness of joy with which we approach our work this year -- the beauty, the privacy, the quiet -everything to help us pass on to the children the spirit of our great inheritance."
It is interesting to note that Mrs. Kirwin's father, Horace T. Bancroft, had in 1928, seconded the motion to build the Parish House.
The completion of the education building gave the church an unusually fine combination of buildings. The original building, used almost exclusively for Sunday services, is a beautiful church of the Greek revival period of architecture. The parish house provides attractive and comfortable rooms for social events, dinners, plays, and other activities. The education building provides for all the needs of our church school, a week-day kindergarten and nursery school, and for our three offices.
It is a tribute to the building committee and the architects that the building meets our growing needs as well in 1976 as it did when we entered it in 1959.
A bronze plaque has been placed at the front entrance to the building, with the following inscription:
"The erection of this building in 1959 was the result of the consolidation of the First Universalist Society and the First Unitarian Congregational Society in 1957. It was made possible by combining the proceeds from the sale of the First Universalist Church and Parsonage with a bequest from Miss Sadie M. Kenny and a gift from Miss Mabel Chandler. The building is dedicated to the enlightenment of the church family of all ages."
Mr. Calvin Libby, a well known artist and a member of the church, donated a colorful painting of flowers which he painted to add a feeling of brightness and happiness for the children using the building. He also contributed a painting of trees for the hallway, and one of sea birds for the minister's office. These paintings now seem like a natural part of the building.
Also, in 1964, Mr. Wolfgang Eschholz, on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of his coming to this county from Germany, presented to the church large framed copies of the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution of the United States, and The Bill of Rights, which now hang in the upper hallway of the education building. In presenting these documents at a Sunday morning service, Mr. Eschholz made the following statement to the congregation:
Laws are made and laws are amended or revoked to fill the needs of society in an ever changing world.
Here before you are replicas of documents which were conceived more than 180 years ago. We cherish them for their juristic wisdom but even more so for the spirit behind them, the spirit which filled the hearts and minds of those men who created them. I think they are a classical example of courage, of idealism and of dedication. I hope that the laws which are being passed in our life time may be backed by the same spirit as these here; and I like to predict that this church, together with other churches will play an important part in creating good attitudes which in turn will lead to good laws.
After last Sunday's excellent treatise of the civil rights problem and related questions I am convinced that the spirit of courage, of dedication and of idealism is alive in this church.
Sometime ago when similar copies were exhibited in a public building, a man scribbled his name under those signatures which you see on the Declaration of Independence. He was caught doing it, was arrested and accused of having defaced a public document. When he was brought into court and the Judge asked him why he had done it, the man answered: "Your Honor, I agree with every word on this document and that is why I signed it." Then he began to recite the Declaration of Independence, word for word, from memory and nobody stopped him because everybody was spellbound, including the Judge. When the man had finished, the Judge said only one word: "Acquitted." The man was an immigrant.
I am also an immigrant that I have also a very high regard for these documents. But I caution myself not to fall asleep on the laurels of these men who created them and who are the founders of this country.
I enjoy living under this constitution as a free man but I am aware of the responsibility which goes with this freedom. It is not easy to be a good citizen, but I keep trying.
I am happy that you want to hang these documents up at an appropriate place in this church. Please interpret this small gift as an expression of gratitude and good will toward this, my church, and this, my country.
A fine Steinway piano was given by Marian Bradley Stevens and Anna Stearns for use in the chapel, which is used for children's services and for many weddings.
The landscape design was made by Dorothea Harrison of Concord, Massachusetts. Her selection of trees and flowering shrubs has made the church setting one of unusual beauty, especially in the Spring. The landscaping work was done by the late Edmund Landry, a member of the church, who devoted much effort to the care of its buildings and grounds.
One other addition to the church property was the acquisition of the house and land at the corner of Lowell and Lemon Streets. This was made possible by the fact that The Maine Manufacturing Company had purchased the property when it was put on the market in 1953 and held it until such time as the church could buy it. At the Annual Meeting on October 22, 1959 the church voted to purchase the property. A few years later the house was taken down and the area was made into a small parking lot surrounded by trees and shrubs. The landscaping of this area was also laid out by Dorothea Harrison. This gave the church all of the land facing on Lowell and Canal Streets from the corner of Lemon and Lowell Streets to the corner of Grove and Canal Streets. The landscaping of the new parking area added to the attractiveness of the total frontage of the church buildings.
In the summer of 1964 the interior of the church was painted and redecorated. Sixteen lights, recessed into the ceiling, replaced the five hanging light fixtures. The exposed organ pipes in front of the organ chamber, which were decorative rather than functional, were removed. A drapery replaced these. The curtains in the windows were removed at this time. The floor was refinished and the varnished wood on the tops of the pew backs was restored to its natural wood grain.
Members of the Redecorating Committee were Robert Sampson, Chairman; J. Edmund Landry, Philip Ellis Stevens, Mrs. John Stevens, Mrs. Theodore Graham and Bliss Woodruff.
In recognition of this redecorating program, a service of rededication of the church was held on Sunday, September 13, 1964. Mr. Sampson, speaking as chairman of the Committee, related that this was the fourth major redecorating change effected since the building was erected in 1827. As part of his address Mr. Sampson said, "Hold fast to that which is good, provide for today with the best that may be, and trust that tomorrow will not entirely reject our labors. If our work in 1964 has met this test, it will have been in the best traditions of this church."
Mr. Sherman Horton, a Nashua attorney and President of the Church, welcomed the congregation and paid tribute to the previous Property and Maintenance Division, and to the previous Executive Committee who had possessed the foresight to provide funds for this remodeling.
The Reverend Donald Rowley, in the rededication sermon, said,
"The changes we have made here may reflect something of our present thought. We have sought dignity through refined simplicity. We have sought more light, for light is a symbol of truth. And in these changes the democratic spirit and a sensitivity to the feelings of others have prevailed. Each of these says something significant about the nature of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashua in the year 1964.
But let us remember in this hour that the Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashua, New Hampshire is no isolated thing. It is not something apart, nor an island unto itself. It does not belong to this time alone. It belongs to ages past and to generations yet to come."
Another major addition to the church building was the sprinkler system, which was installed in 1970 by The Northeast Automatic Sprinkler Company, Inc, of Braintree, Massachusetts, at a cost of $18,526.00.
The installation of this system provides a major protection against loss by fire of our historic church building. A bequest by Mr. George Melcher, who had been an active member of the church for many years, and who had an interest in the preservation of the church as an historically significant edifice in Nashua, was used to pay for much of the cost of the sprinkler system. Mr. Philip Ellis Stevens carried out the planning and supervision of this project.
In 1959 the church organized a non-sectarian, non-profit nursery and kindergarten school. Sylvia Jane Foulkrod and Marian Woodruff served as the first co-chairmen of the Division responsible for the school. The following By-Law amendment was voted to provide for this organization:
j) Kindergarten - Nursery School Division
The members of this Division, together with its Chairman, shall be appointed by the Executive Committee. The Chairman shall appoint from within the membership of the Division a Vice Chairman, Treasurer and such other officers as he may deem necessary.
This Division shall operate and maintain a nonsectarian kindergarten - nursery school in the Church School building for the following purposes:
(1) To help children grow as individuals, emotionally, socially, mentally and physically.
(2) To prepare children for the first grade primarily by:
(a) Introduction to social disciplines, through group activities and experiences, cooperation with adults and other children, learning to follow directions, respect for people and property, responsiveness, and responsibility.
(b) Fostering creative development by self expression through arts and crafts material and by constructive play and music.
They shall recommend to the Executive Committee for its approval the employment of such teachers and other assistants as they consider necessary to fulfill the above purposes. They shall also endeavor to obtain the voluntary assistance of parents and others, both within and without the Church, in fulfilling the above purposes.
They shall on or before the thirtieth day of June of each church year, submit to the Executive Committee for its approval, their financial budget for the following church year. "
The school was named the White Wing School. It has been one of the church's major contributions to the community for the past eighteen years. Karen Leonard, Chairman of the Division, reported to the Annual Meeting of the church in 1976 that the school had a full enrollment of 88 students and a staff of four teachers, four assistants, a director, and a creative dance teacher. The school has always had an excellent reputation in the community and in the public schools.
For the two school years of 1965-66 and 1966-67 the Kindergarten-Nursery School Division also ran a Head Start program for economically deprived children. The program was funded by a grant from the federal government. Luci Pillsbury, Chairman of the Division, reported to the 1967 Annual Meeting that, "During the year, 45 economically deprived children received professional pre-school instruction, as well as a hot meal daily, extensive medical and dental treatment, frequent home visits, and large doses of personal attention. An average of fifteen volunteers helped out weekly . . . "
This was a most rewarding program for those involved. It brought the Head Start program to Nashua before any government agencies were prepared to do so. At the end of our two year sponsorship of this project it was taken over by the local Office of Economic Opportunity.
The White Wing School and the Head Start program are indicative of the church's interest in serving the community in practical ways. During the 1969-1970 year a Social Responsibility Committee was organized with Drew and Bonnie Sunstein serving as co-chairmen. The purpose of the Committee was that of furthering participation by church members in areas of human concern within the community.
Each year since its organization this committee has received $500.00 from the church for the support of social services. During its first year it provided part of the sponsorship for the Nashua Family Planning Clinic; its members helped organize and teach a sewing class for girls in underprivileged families; and it provided English classes for Spanish speaking children.
The following year, when unemployment became a major problem for those in the electronics and engineering fields, the committee organized a Self Help Action Group through which the unemployed could share their problems, find new jobs, or explore career changes. The committee provided funds for the group, and the church provided an office and meeting rooms. Over a hundred people were involved in this program at times. Arthur Ferlan, a member of the church provided much of the leadership for the Self Help Action Group.
Over recent years funds from the Social Involvement Committee have been granted to a wide variety of social services in which members of the church are involved.
Another community service of the church has been that of allowing social service and cultural groups to use the church buildings for meetings and programs.
The ministers of the church have always been involved in social services and social change in the community. They have served in such causes as mental health, family planning, fair housing practices and funeral reforms. The church allows the minister complete freedom in regard to participation in social concerns.
In 1975 the church members voted to establish a student aid fund of $10,000.00 This fund is used to provide loans to church members or children of church members, who are in need of financial assistance, to help finance and further their full time post-secondary education. The loans are interest free while the student is in school. The interest rate during the period of repayment is 3 percent. This fund should provide up to $1,000.00 a year in such loans throughout the future.
THE EVOLVING THOUGHT OF THE CHURCH
Our church records give us an accurate account of the administration of the institution throughout its history. However there are no resources which describe the theology of the church in any detail. The Orders of Service for some special events provide some indications of the language of worship at given times, but we have no copies of sermons by which to recover the intellectual stance of the given ministers.
At the end of the first one hundred years of its history the church, like the Unitarian denomination as a whole, could perhaps be best described as being a Unitarian Christian church. It was theistic. Scripture readings and prayers were part of the worship service. Responsive Readings were from the Psalms and other Biblical sources. The Lord's Prayer seems to have been used in Sunday services and in most of the special services, including those for the Centennial Anniversary and the One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Anniversary. Communion services had been discontinued during the late part of the nineteenth century. After the merger with the Universalist Church there was a communion service on Maundy Thursday for a few years, but then this was discontinued.
A statement prepared by members of the church in 1952, refers to the parish as being an extremely active and liberal one. The theological thought of the church has continued in the liberal tradition. During the 1960s the Lord's Prayer was removed from the service. Responsive Readings were also discontinued.
The Humanist-Theist controversy that was going on in the denomination was also evident in discussions in the church, and in congregational comments and criticisms about the content of Sunday services. However these were all amiable and constructive avenues for the theological growth of the minister and church members together.
Also during the 1960's, there was much interest throughout the denomination in the so-called "world religions". As Unitarians and Universalists were moving farther away from traditional Christianity they were increasing their knowledge about, and awareness of, the other major faiths. Furthermore, the period following World War 11 saw a new enthusiasm in the one-world concept as reflected in the United Nations, and enhanced no doubt by the man-in-space program in which, for the first time, human beings could see the whole earth as a globe, or as a single unit in the universe. In the Nashua church this interest in world religions was reflected in sermon topics, discussion groups, and church school curriculum. A curtain was designed for the education building chapel to reflect this interest. It was a silk curtain with gold leaf emblems of each of the major religions repeated throughout, with the emblem of the United Nations in the center. A photograph of this curtain still appears on one of our cover designs for the Sunday Order of Service.
The new hymnal, Hymns for the Celebration of Life, published by the Beacon Press in 1964, was quickly selected by the church to replace the older Hymns of the Spirit. Choral music has also reflected similar changes as the choir has used less traditional church music and has increased its use of contemporary and non-liturgical selections. The services today are basically humanistic. Although the membership represents many theological positions, the church clearly stands in the liberal Unitarian Universalist Theological position.
BEQUESTS AND ENDOWMENT FUNDS
According to the church records, the special funds of the church, as of October 1, 1925, consisted of the following:
Mary G. Stark Fund $ 5,000.00
Mary A. Hunt Fund 11,611.76
Mary E. Hunt Fund 15,000.00
D. A. Gregg Fund 10,000.00
L. Frank Stevens Fund 5,000.00
Permanent Fund 2,425.00
(Donors to the Permanent Fund) D. Spalding, Mrs. T. J. Laton, Mrs. David McClary, Miss Almira Cheever, Mrs. M. A. Baker, E. P. Whittemore, Norris Wetherbee
Since that time many bequests have been given to the church. Some of these have been used in part, or entirely, for special projects, but most of them have been placed in the church endowment. These gifts include the following, listed in chronological order.
H. M. Hobson Fund $10,000.00
C. E. Upton Fund 1,000.00
S. J. Robinson Fund 26,000.00
Abbey W. Laton Fund 1,000.00
Silas and Mahala Gibson Fund 1,000.00
Frances Ann Burbank Fund 500.00
Kate Sprague Goss Trust Fund 500.00
A. Augusta Robinson and Elizabeth G. Ames Fund 500.00
Mebel Ellis Stevens Fund 10,000.00
The Stevens Family Fund 10,000.00
Jennie Farley and Charles H. Farley Fund 2,000.00
Clara Bowman Fund 100.00
(1) Sadie Kenny Bequest 56,360.00
(2) Mary Ober Bequest 90,000.00
Grace Harvey Bequest 1,000.00
Pearley and Edith Fletcher Fund 10,000.00
Ethel Babbitt Fund 10,000.00
Hope Mountfort Fund 500.00
(3) Helen W. Boutwell Memorial Fund 5,000.00
Mabel Chandler Bequest 5,000.00
(4) George Melcher Bequest 12,000.00
These generous gifts to the church represent nearly a quarter of a million dollars received in the last fifty years. Careful and responsible management of these and other gifts has enabled the church to survive difficult years, to maintain the excellent conditions of its property, and to carry on an effective liberal religious program in Nashua beyond the level that would otherwise have been possible.
In addition to these funds the church endowment also includes parts or all of some bequests given to the First Universalist Church before its merger with the Unitarian Church. According to the Universalist records the following bequests were received:
George F. Wilber, M.D., Bequest $35,000.00
Mrs. Dorcas Dodge, Bequest 6,000.00
Fred Burke, Bequest 14,795.00
Jeanie M. Reed, Bequest 1,000.00
(5) Florence M. Lyon, Memorial Flower Fund 5,000.00
Charles S. Clement, Bequest 500.00
Other invested funds from the Universalist Church include the Sarah M. Balcom Fund, now valued at about $56,000.00, which is administered by the Bank of New Hampshire; the Blodgett Fund of about $3,500.00, the income from which is used for charitable purposes, and the Batchelder Fund of $1,000.00, the income from which is used for religious education.
A marble plaque from the Universalist Church indicates that Myra M. Chase, Mr. & Mrs. H. O. Proctor, Adeline V. Rideout, Annie J. Gilson, and Mary M. Eayers also contributed to the endowed funds of the church.
(1) Much of the Sadie Kenny bequest was applied to the building fund for the education building, and the remainder was added to the church's invested funds.
(2) The total figure listed on this bequest may not be exact, but is a close estimate. About $20,000.00 of the Mary Ober bequest was used for capital improvements and the purchase of new furniture and office equipment, with the remainder being added to the invested funds.
(3) The Helen W. Boutwell Memorial Fund is, in keeping with the bequest, invested by the Unitarian Universalist Association with the income being given to this church to support its religious education program.
(4) As stated earlier in this history, the George Melcher bequest was used to help pay for the sprinkler system in the church.
(5) The Florence M. Lyon Memorial Flower Fund is now a $10,000.00 fund, the income of which is used to purchase flowers for Sunday Services.
As the church concludes the first one hundred and fifty years of its history it is in very good condition as a religious institution.
It has 368 adult members and 187 children enrolled in its church school programs.
Its invested funds have a market value in excess of $550,000.
The buildings are in excellent condition, with the following values ascribed to them for insurance purposes:
Education Building $180,000.00 Contents 30,000.00 Church Building 210,000.00 Contents 15,000.00 Parish House 210,000.00 Contents 35,000.00 Storage Shed (rear of Educ. Bldg.) 750.00 Parsonage (78 Concord Street) 60,000.00 $740,750.00
The Treasurer's Report for the 1975-76 fiscal year showed receipts of $61,322.76 and expenses of $60,716.16 for the regular operating budget of the church. Receipts for the year included $28,579.74 from invested funds and $29,138.73 from contributions by members, and $3,604.29 from other sources including White Wing School, Barbershoppers, Meeting House Singles, etc.
OFFICERS OF THE CHURCH 1926-1977
CHAIRMEN OF THE PRUDENTIAL COMMITTEE FROM 1926-1958
Albert J. McKean
L. Blaine Stevens
Clinton P. Wallace
James P. Mayo
Lester L. Harvey
Alfred D. Barnes
John B. Stevens
Philip Ellis Stevens
PRESIDENTS OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST CHURCH 1958-1977
Philip Ellis Stevens
Philip Ellis Stevens 1927 - 1952
Clinton P. Wallace 1952 - 1958
George Nary 1958 - 1963
Donald S. LaTourette 1963 - 1967
Robert Pillsbury 1967 - 1969
Kenneth Hartz 1969 - 1970
Bliss Woodruff 1970 -
Edward S. Whittemore 1912 - 1938
Charles Rich 1938 - 1941
Arthur S. Bolster 1942 - 1957
Mabel Griffith 1957 - 1959
John DeWitt 1959 - 1960
Mildred L. Campbell 1960 - 1969
Mary Jane Wing 1969 - 1970
Murilyn MacKay 1970 - 1971
Margot Long 1971 - 1972
Lynn Smith 1972 - 1973
Barbara Berrios 1973 - 1976
Lois Suarez 1976 - 1977
MINISTERS OF THE FIRST UNITARIAN CONGREGATIONAL SOCIETY OF NASHUA 1826-1957
1827-1834 The Reverend Nathaniel Gage
1835-1837 The Reverend Henry Emmons
1838-1842 The Reverend Samuel Osgood
1843-1844 The Reverend Augustus C. L. Arnold
1845-1852 The Reverend Stephen G. Bulfinch
1854-1860 The Reverend Martin W. Willis
1862-1865 The Reverend Samuel B. Stewart
1866-1869 The Reverend Minot G. Gage
1870-1872 The Reverend Clarence Fowler
1873-1878 The Reverend Thomas L. Gorman (Acting Pastor)
1879-1888 The Reverend Henry C. Parker
1889-1891 The Reverend Cary F. Abbott
1892-1899 The Reverend Enoch Powell
1900-1912 The Reverend Herbert H. Mott
1912-1919 The Reverend Manly B. Townsend
1920-1945 The Reverend Otto Lyding
1945-1947 The Reverend Ernest H. Sommerfeld
1947-1951 The Reverend Edward A. Cahill
1951-1957 The Reverend Leon C. Fay
MINISTERS OF THE UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST
CHURCH OF NASHUA
1957 - 1976
1957 The Reverend Leon C. Fay
1957-1958 The Reverend Charles Richardson (Interim)
1958- The Reverend Donald W. Rowley
MINISTERS OF THE FIRST UNIVERSALIST PARISH OF NASHUA, 1835-1954
1835-1838 The Reverend Woodbury M. Farnals
1838-1839 The Reverend A. P. Claverly
1839-1845 The Reverend Lewis C. Browne
1846-1848 The Reverend W. H. Ryder, D.D.
1848-1852 The Reverend Lewis C. Browne
1853-1855 The Reverend C. H. Fay
1855-1859 The Reverend O. D. Miller
1859-1862 The Reverend Joseph O. Skinner
1862-1864 The Reverend Thomas L. Gorman
1864-1869 The Reverend G. T. Flanders
1869-1872 The Reverend Sullivan H. McCollester, D.D.
1872-1875 The Reverend H. A. Philbrook
1876-1878 The Reverend James Gorton
1878-1880 The Reverend Josiah Marvin
1880-1892 The Reverend Henry Bernard Smith
1893-1903 The Reverend Francis Alonzo Gray, D.D.
1903-1905 The Reverend Lewis E. Pease
1906-1907 The Reverend Isaac P. Coddington, D.D.
1907-1909 The Reverend Hazen Conklin
1909-1925 The Reverend William H. Morrison, D.D.
1925-1931 The Reverend Weston Attwood Cate
1931-1939 The Reverend Arthur A. Blair
1939-1943 The Reverend Ernest Marble
1943-1947 The Reverend Fred Miller
1947-1950 The Reverend Ralph P. Boyd
1950-1954 The Reverend Myles Blanchard
With each passing year the church continues to make its own history. The purpose of this document was to present that history up to 1976.
However, the 1976-77 church year has its events and accomplishments that should be mentioned here, if only in the briefest form.
The Fellowship Room in the Parish House has been redecorated including a new rug, curtains, and a complete refurbishing. The redecorating this room was made possible through a financial gift from Marian Bradley Stevens and a gift of design services by Bliss Woodruff.
Sue Baird was elected President of the Executive Committee, and is the first woman to hold position. Many members of the church have been active in the women's liberation movement, the church has supported many of their causes in financial and other ways. The Executive Committee of the church has six men and six women members.
During this year a $1000.00 endowment fund was established in the church by Mr. And Philip Margolin, the income from which is to be used for a service project the church carries out at the New Hampshire Hospital in Concord, New Hampshire. Mr. and Mrs. Margolin were active in organizing this service for hospital patients.
On June 5, 1977 the church voted to sell the Parsonage at 78 Concord Street, which has been the home of our ministers since 1920. This action has been taken in keeping with the present trend toward ministers owning their own homes.
On June 26, 1977 the church observed the 150th anniversary of the dedication of the church edifice. Participants in the service included Sue Baird, President of the Executive Committee, M. Russell Leonard, Vice President of the Executive Committee, Eleanor Dorr, Anna Stearns, Philip Ellis Stevens and Donald Rowley, Minister.
Six members of the church, who have been associated with the church for seventy five years, or more, were recognized at this celebration. They are Roland Burnham, Inez Harvey, Abbie Laton, Anna Stearns, Arthur Pierce, and Philip Ellis Stevens.