Church of the Redeemer UCC, New Haven, Connecticut

Organized in 1838, Church of the Redeemer, United Church of Christ is the fourth congregational church in New Haven. Originally named Chapel Street Congregational Church, it was formed after there was dissent at the Third Congregational Church when a new minister would not accept the “New Haven Theology” of Nathaniel Taylor who founded the church. Taylor rejected the idea of determinism in which God alone was responsible for all activities in the universe. He felt this was immoral because it contradicts the notions of freedom and choice, and thought God not immoral. In 1920, the church moved to its present location and its Federal style main sanctuary was added in 1951—appropriately reflecting Taylor’s ideas. Building upon the philosophical tenets of Nathaniel Taylor, the Church of the Redeemer strives to be an, “inclusive community committed to the worship of God, the work of justice, and the recognition of our common humanity in the struggles of life.”

First Parish Church, Brunswick, Maine

Founded in 1717, First Parish Church’s current structure, completed in 1846 and designed by architect Richard Upjohn, is a radical departure from the traditional congregational church design that preceded it. The Gothic Revival design sparked a major shift from “puritan simplicity” that would spread across the country. The Christian Monitor wrote, “It is something of a novelty…yet there is an air of dignity and repose about the whole building, exceedingly appropriate to a Christian temple.”

The Church’s ground-breaking design also acts a metaphor for its many times forward thinking parish. From its inception, First Parish Church had been a place of discussion, debate and reflection. From providing support to the Continental Congress to debating the separation of Maine from Massachusetts to the inspiring moment when Harriet Beecher Stowe on March 2, 1851 in pew 23 envisioned the book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which portrayed the evils of slavery, these intangible fragments of First Parish Church’s heritage reflects some of the pinnacle moments in U.S. history.

North Church of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Formally organized in 1671 as “The Church of Christ in Portsmouth”, North Church of Portsmouth’s roots can be traced back to 1638 when the first public worship in town was held. The structure, located on Market Square, was completed in 1855. Seen from most parts of the city, the steeple, as well as the building’s edifice, is constructed in the Italianate style, which references 16th-century Italian Renaissance architecture. North Church has a notable list of members and visitors, which includes: General William Whipple, who signed the Declaration of Independence, John Langdon, signer of the U.S. Constitution and President George Washington. With this in mind, it is not surprising to read that the church’s mission states in-part, “We the members of the North Congregational Church family, a loving and compassionate people of faith, gathered to worship God, accept our responsibility to seek justice for all God’s people.”

Gosport Chapel, Star Island, Isles of Shoals, New Hampshire

Gosport Chapel is part of the non-profit Star Island Corporation retreat complex, founded on the spiritual ideals of Unitarian-Universalism and the United Church of Christ. The rustic island-based retreat located seven miles off the shores of New Hampshire offers a community-oriented, multi-generational environment for personal reflection and rejuvenation. Gosport Chapel, a modest stone structure built in 1800, sits on the highest point of the island and is at the heart of the complex. As part of a Star Island tradition at the end of each retreat day, participants gather at the foot of the hill and form a procession up a long winding path carrying candle lanterns to the chapel. Inside, the candle lanterns are hung on the wall, providing the only source of light for the evening service.

Old South Church, Boston, Massachusetts

The congregation of Old South Church in Boston was gathered in 1669 to serve all who seek a spiritual journey in Christian faith. Completed in 1875, the church’s highly ornate Gothic Revival Style is atypical of a traditional New England congregational church. While architects Charles Amos Cummings and Willard T. Sears‘ design intention was to, “radiate the opulent taste and the sense of optimism and progress of the Industrial Revolution following the Civil War”, the congregation has been recognized for equality and social justice, with such notable congregants as Samuel Sewall who published the first anti-slavery writing in the United States in 1700, The Selling of Joseph. As poet John Greenleaf Whittier eloquently wrote, ‘So long as Boston shall Boston be, And her bay tides rise and fall, Shall freedom stand in the Old South Church, And plead for the rights of all.”

Center Church on the Green, New Haven, Connecticut

Organized by Puritans in 1639 as the First Society of New Haven, Center Church on the Green is the congregation’s fourth meeting house site. Commonly referred to as Center Church, The First Church of Christ in New Haven was designed in the Federal style by renowned architect Ithiel Town and built between 1812-1814. Refined woodwork and historic enclosed pews are washed in light from the two rows of large windows flanking the sanctuary, which added warmth to the previously unheated space. The distinctive Tiffany stained glass window illustrates New Haven founder Rev. John Davenport preaching his first sermon to the first English settlers, who viewed the locale as the New Jerusalem on Long Island Sound.

North Guilford Congregational Church, Guilford, Connecticut

Established in 1719, the North Guilford Congregational Church is the oldest continually used church in the town of Guilford. Considered to be one of Connecticut’s outstanding Federal style churches, its present structure was designed and built by local architect Abraham Coan between 1812 and 1814. The church was among the first to adopt a “square body” meetinghouse layout versus the traditional axial design with an elongated nave. Ornamented by a single Palladian window, its evenly-lit subdued interior embodies the nature of endeavoring equality sought within Congregational worship.

The First Congregational Church of Camden, Maine

Despite setbacks in its early years when assignment of a regular minister was intermittent, the parish of the First Congregational Church of Camden, Maine, which is the oldest church in town, continues to persevere more than two hundred years after its founding in 1805. Built in 1834 and later renovated in 1870 in the Italianate style, the structure’s interior architecture is reserved yet amiable, creating a place for unity and introspection. Quoted from the forward of the church’s 1905 Centennial booklet, “This church has been a benediction to the town. It has pointed the way to God and heaven to three generations. …The town of Camden is a better town for what this church has been and still is…”

The First Congregational Church of Madison, Connecticut

Prominently located on Madison’s town green, the First Congregational Church of Madison, Connecticut serves as a testament to its community’s rich 300-year history. Built in the Federal style in 1838, the church resides at its third site—having served dually as a place of worship and a venue for local town meetings until 1897 when a new town hall was built. Remarkably pristine, the restrained use of color accentuates the bold Federal architectural design, signifying the church’s autonomous stance.