special "thank you" to Mark Bono for allowing me
to view and copy this material
booklet has been published for two reasons:
to give to the members and others vitally interested in the
church, correct information as to its present organization
and work, and a brief history of its growth through two hundred
to give all who might be interested some conception of the
scope of its activity and range of its service to the community.
is the first time in many years that an effort has been made
to bring together the many facts relating to our church life
and fellowship, and our sincerest thanks are due those who
have generously aided in the costs of publication.
Federated Church has a splendid heritage from the past and
a tremendous challenge for service in the future. We hope
this booklet will in some small way give the perspective to
point the direction and in inspiration to march on.
our church buildings could talk, what an exciting story they
could tell of people who have gathered under their roofs throughout
the past century, and of people who remembered those who built
the first churches in Redding a century before that. It is
a long story; a story one-tenth as long as the story of Christianity
itself. It is a story of two branches of a stream bounding
down out of the mountain of time, tumbling over rocky crags,
or bubbling in little eddies, or lolling in shady pools of
woodland quietness till finally they meet to form a wider
stream which winds on down the slope.
day about two hundred years ago, a handful of farmers came
in from clearing their fields and building their fences, and
sat down in the home of a neighbor to talk over plans for
a meeting house for the worship of God "in the Presbyterian
way." Once the dimensions were roughly set, they chose
three of their number to have charge of putting it up. Stephen
Burr's oxen drew stones and clay for the underpinning; Daniel
Lion laid them. Others hewed timbers, mortised them, and pegged
them into place so they would stay.. Men came bringing lath
and laying them on; and before the summer was up, the town
common was graced by a tidy, two-story house of worship.
they must have a pastor, and the first man bold enough to
serve this young parish so recently wrenched from the wilderness
was the Rev. Nathaniel Hunn. Early in 1733 he responded to
their call, and on March 21 of that year "was separated
to the work of the ministry by prayer and fasting, and the
laying on of hands." His yearly salary they fixed at
70 pounds, his firewood, a convenient dwelling, and 100 acres
of land, with the promise of an increase year by year. Under
his guidance the Congregational Church at Redding Center was
organized with 26 members, including two deacons.
parishioners built plain, sturdy homes and reared their children
with the fear of God in their hearts! Its members laid taxes,
built roads and school houses, and its ministers taught in
were conducted regularly throughout the year. Residents were
"obliged by law to contribute toward the support and
worship" of the church. In 1742 it was voted "to
beat the drum as a signal to call the people together on the
Sabbath." When they got there, fervent preachments besought
them to dedicate their souls and copper foot stoves insured
protection against cold feet. Soon a rail was put across the
foreside of the gallery, and plain strong seats were installed
on the ground floor and assigned by families according to
their rank and degree.
the winter encampment of General Putnam's army in 1779, all
troops that looked anywhere near presentable were marched
to church to hear the eloquent sermons of the patriotic parson.
Rev. Nathaniel Bartlett, for fifty-seven years pastor of the
Congregational Church, served at this time as Chaplain to
Putnam's Division, administering to the needs of cold and
hungry soldiers, and carrying a shot-gun in his carriage while
he made his parish calls.
danger of the Revolution over, there rose up before the eyes
of conscientious Congregationalists a new, if not more ominous
spectre; the rise of Methodism.
a warm afternoon in June, 1789, Jesse Lee, out on his mission
to quicken and vitalize New England churches, drove down a
stony road into Redding Center. There he happened to meet
the Rev. Mr. Bartlett who invited him to his house to quiz
him about what doctrines he preached. Flint and steel struck
sparks which ended in Mr. Lee not being invited to preach
in the meeting-house because he held what Mr. Bartlett "thought
was contrary to the Gospel." Mr. Lee, nothing daunting,
spoke in school-houses, under trees, in barns; and the fruits
of his efforts bore vivid testimony to the vitality of his
message and the eloquence of his speech.
Methodist Society in Redding, the second in New England, was
formed in that year and meetings were held in the home of
Aaron Sanford until the Town Hall was leased in 1803 for fifteen
dollars a year. It was arranged that the Town Hall "be
used as often, and as much as they please for public worship."
Any apprehension about the wisdom of this action was dispelled
by the last clause in the motion, i.e. "and said society
to repair all damage done to the Town House while they are
assembled therein for public worship!"
modest meeting-house was erected in 1811, with no steeple,
no ceiling, "as unpolluted by paint as when its timbers
were standing in their native forest," and heated by
foot-stoves carried in by the female worshippers. But in spite
of this chaste beginning, the Society increased in numbers
and in strength, until it became an accepted maxim that there
was room for two churches at Redding Center.
may be interest some to know that the present Congregational
building(burned in 1942) was erected in 1836, repaired in
1859 and 1870, and put in its present shape in 1893, when
it was completely remodeled; and that the present Methodist(now
Congregational) building was built in 1837, and refurbished
and rededicated in 1868.
the nineteenth century came the great nationwide industrial
and agricultural boom in which Redding had its share of prosperity.
Families grew in numbers, and new people were attracted by
its pleasant streams, its fertile fields and rich woodland.
There were dairy farms and gardens, creameries and button
factories and flour mills. Stores came, where women bought
calico and men spun yarns.
churches prospered in those good days. Folks who worked and
frolicked through the week, became stern on Sunday, brought
their lunches and spent the day at church. Revivals occurred
periodically, the most notable one being conducted in 1867,
when some sixty people professed their faith and united with
the Congregational Church. Sunday Schools, started early in
the century, numbered nearly two hundred children before its
close. Large and active groups of Young People gathered for
social events and spiritual nourishment. Each Sunday found
both churches packed to the galleries for two, and sometimes
there came a new kind of change. A tidal wave of large-scale
manufacturing swept the country. New inventions and improved
transportation focussed attention on industrial centers. People
began to emigrate to the city in search for the unusual opportunities
it offered. Chain stores made the independent dealer pretty
largely a matter of history. It became increasingly difficult
to make one's living on a farm. Small factories and mills
were closed and dismantled. Fewer people sought a means of
livelihood in Redding.
this, of course, had its effect upon the churches in Redding
Center, as it had on the churches throughout the land. Elderly
parishioners grew older and passed on. Young ones sought careers
in the city. Many of those in between grew impatient with
the church's slow transition from an outgrown theology, greeted
with warm welcome the mechanical outlook implied in the New
Science which was at that time still in rompers, and turned
an indifferent ear to a vital new message which sought to
employ all the tools given it by the New Order. It grew harder
to enlist new interest and support for the work of the churches.
Membership in the Sunday Schools declined. Contributions began
to fall off. The need for a new strategy became evident.
the nation entered the World War, citizens far and wide were
called to lend their help. Throughout the land those who had
been severed by separate loyalties were drawn together by
a common loyalty to their country. Out of that condition of
affairs was born a new tolerance among people of different
denominations. That gave a clue to the churchmen at Redding
Center for the new strategy.
1920 a committee of six was appointed, with equal representation
from the Congregational and Methodist Societies, and instructed
to find a way by which the religious forces of the community
might be consolidated. In its report this committee recommended
that the two churches unite, and drew up a plan of union which
was called the Articles of Federation. Progressive sentiment
registered itself in this way: "Recognizing that such
a federation is so obviously to the good of both churches,
and for the good of the community, anyone who refuses to support
the project through prejudice or smallness of vision or sheer
inability to forget personal ends or animosities, could very
easily be looked upon as having the wrong kind of spirit,
to say the least." Although the sea was somewhat choppy,
the Federation was launched in May, 1921, and the wisdom of
that move has been proven by eleven years of splendid co-operation.
Message to Friends and Church Members
By Fred G. Allen
A Sermon preached in Redding Federated Church, November
"But the Lord stood by me, and strengthened me; that
through me the message might be fully proclaimed, and that
all the Gentiles might hear."-II Timothy 4:17.
how fast news gets about town! Someone is taken sick one morning
and by noon scores of people know about it. An accident happens
one afternoon and it is stale news by the time the paper comes
that night. We dont need newspapers in our towns, as
a matter of fact-but thank goodness for the telephone! One
operator tells me that about 20% of the calls that go through
Central are of a business nature, while the other 80% are
just talk! Thats all right. Im not condemning
gossip-at least not today. Im just trying to account
for that strange way in which news gets around.
kind of news is it that gets around so speedily? Is it the
good news? It is-if its exciting. But its mostly
the spectacular news that gets on the Front Page of Town Talk
and spectacular news is generally bad! If a sick person
passes away, it is broadcast far and wide before you can say
"Jack Robinson." But if he lives, one seldom thinks
to call and say the Lord has spared him through another night.
Or one society dame has a spat with another, and immediately
the whole town knows about it. But after it's patched up,
few people take the trouble to notify others that the reconciliation
has taken place. Everybody knows about the Political Rally
where there might be a little mud-slinging, but few find out
about the innocent little Church Social where one might go
just for an evening of wholesome play.
is exceedingly unpopular because so often it is not exciting.
When things seem to be going smoothly there is nothing to
write home about. In fact, we've come to believe pretty widely
that, "No news is good news!" There's the real truth
of the matter. A thing that is not spectacular, in the ordinary
sense of that word, just is not news. Any newspaper reporter
will tell you that.
idea of what is spectacular depends entirely upon our sense
of values. There are lots of things folks think exciting that
are not exciting at all. They may be gruesome or horrifying,
but not in the least spectacular.
a man who has beaten and deserted his wife-but that's not
spectacular! Indeed, when you think of how little young people
really know about marriage or about each other on their wedding
day, it's a marvelous thing that more marriages don't end
that way. The really exciting thing today is not the large
number of divorces registered in the government files, but
the huge number of marriages that are as happy as they are.
Or a boy
breaks into a house and takes something that doesn't belong
to him-but there is nothing spectacular about that! Indeed,
robbery, in all its forms, is fast becoming one of the most
ordinary ways of making a living. When you combine the effects
of the poverty of a considerable proportion of our people,
with the "catch as catch can" philosophy we've all
been brought up on- it's a wonder there's not a whole lot
more larceny than there actually is. The spectacular thing
is not so many boys steal, but that so many boys go straight!
of nations may go to war-but there's nothing spectacular about
that! When one calls another names, or tries to take something
from him, it's the most natural, ordinary thing in the world
for them both to double up their fists and start punching
each other. That's not exciting! Indeed, when you consider
all the scathing remarks that have been bandied about in diplomatic
circles in the last ten years; all the treaties violated;
all the insolent tariff walls thrown up; all the invasions
that have taken place; all the goods that have been dumped;
all the insults to national pride that have been swallowed;
all the prejudice, bitterness, and hate that have been festered
up and then receded- the amazing thing is that in that short
period we've had such a large measure of peace! The United
States entered the World War on much less provocation than
she has stood for in recent years. The thing that is exciting
today is not that nations got to war, but that they stay out
of war as well as they do!
Revere were alive today we might well imagine him tolling
the bell of an Old North Church to proclaim, not an invasion
by a foreign army, but rather a period of peace in the face
of great international strain; not to fan the inflamed passions
of men, but to celebrate the birth of the principle of conciliation;
not to sound the clarion call to war, but to broadcast encouragement
to nations which are at last learning "to take it on
the chin" because of a great hope that somehow they can
find their way out of a sorry mess by purely peaceful means.
the things which are making news today. The real Front Page
News is not the latest murder or bank robbery or Hollywood
divorce. The real Front Page News is of tremendous projects
that are being waged on the frontier of social progress. The
real "hot scoops" are not those things which are
holding society back, but those things which are leading it
forward in the light of a great hope. The Good News is not
of those things which narrow men down and show their petty
selfishness and lust; but rather those things which broaden
men out and show their compassion, humility, and trust; not
those things that tell of their human weakness, but of their
unfolding capacity for spiritual power!
words, the Good News of today is just the same as the "Good
News" of 2,00 years ago. In the midst of the strife and
conflict and confusion of the world there is a guiding hand
which is progressively tending to draw the best out of men.
And all that leads to our civilization ahead by the perpetual
light of the great faith, an insurmountable hope, and an unconquerable
love is the "Good News" that was summed up in the
personality and teaching of that invincible man of Gailee.
news that man is progressing not only in the care of his body,
but also in the care of his mind and spirit. It's good news
when a man learns what it really means to love his neighbor.
It's good news when a man learns that the abundance of life
consists not in the things he possesses. When our income has
been cut and we have to piece things together to make ends
meet-it's good news that, in spite of that, we can keep our
spiritual equilibrium. When our faith in the abiding love
of the living thing God enables us to conquer our handicaps-that's
good news. When a man who is hungry and in need finds the
hand of a friend stretched toward him-that's good news.
news because it is the Gospel of Christ- and we must never
for one moment think when that first came out that it was
tucked away on an obscure page in the Sport Section. It was
blazoned forth in boldest type on the very Front Page: and
in it a powerful wedge which drove itself deep into their
lives and made them whole!
news we, if we still believe it, must drag out from way back
there in the back pages. That's the news we ought to get really
excited about. Let that news drive us to our telephones with
an undeniable passion to share it with our friends because
it has given us a new sustaining power we never knew
before. Let us proclaim it from the house tops, because all
men have a right to hear it. When pain or adversity come into
our lives, let us stand fast with Paul, and say "But
the Lord stood by me, and strengthened me; that all the Gentiles
might hear!" Let us, following Barnabas, lift Christ
up that he may draw all men unto him. Let us bring him out
of the indifferent background of our lives and put him on
the Front Page.
In a little
village in the Adirondack Mountains there is a man who is
putting Christ on the Front Page. Four years ago when he came
to that isolated town of 800 people he found it destitute
of any means of abundant living. The only church was an abandoned
shack. The nearest hospital was fifty miles away. Farming
was dead; the people had nothing to do; they were a poor and
deserted lot in their little sleepy hollow. Then came Eric
Thompson who had left his job as president of a ship building
concern because, as he said, "It was not exciting enough
for me," and set himself to give that community a standard
of living such as it had never known before. They bought an
old defunct hall and converted it into a rustic furniture
factory. That gave them work and an income. They remodeled
the church and built a beautiful little parish house. That
gave them a place to worship. They bought a big empty house
and converted it into an emergency hospital; maternity ward,
operating room, X-ray machine and all. That gave them a place
to care for their sick. Now they're building a school in which
to teach their children; and soon they will build a Little
Theater in which they can see high class movies and put on
their own plays. These are some of the outward signs that
great inward rebirth which has not only put the town on its
feet, but which has in four short years made the community
self-sustaining and given it a permanent standard of life
better than ever before. All because Eric Thompson had some
exciting NEWS and wanted to broadcast it. All because he felt
a great power from outside and let it descend upon him and
work in him, and showed his parishioners how it might work
in them, until today they have the makings of a miniature
Kingdom of God-and all because they put Christ on the Front
saying that we must do just as they have done; but I am saying
that we in our church, and millions of other Christians in
their churches must somehow catch fire and burn with that
same kind of enthusiasm for lifting people to God. How can
we send missionaries to preach the Gospel to foreign people
if we haven't got enough enthusiasm for it to preach it to
those whose ears are stopped in our own community! How can
we send teachers to children in the slums of our great cities
and in our mountain districts unless our light shines out
before our fellow citizens here until they say, "Well
there, that man has got something I don't have, and something
I want in my life, too!" The Gospel of Christ may strike
sparks any number of times in our presence, but it will not
catch fire if the tinder is damp.
are lots of things we need here in our own community and in
our church, but our greatest need of all is to bring Christ
out from among the pages of the Sport Section and put him
on the Front Page.
feel that we need to abandon one of our churches and put the
other in first class shape; but before we do that we must
catch something of the sacrificial spirit of our Master so
we will not lay undue emphasis on the importance of our physical
property. We must catch something of his sense of spiritual
values in order that we may put first things first and build
for the spiritual needs of our Federation.
feel that we need a new organ to enrich our worship services
and make them more dignified and beautiful; but first we must
learn more of what Jesus meant by saying, "The Kingdom
of God is within you," and "if you approach the
Temple in a proper frame of mind and spirit, even if it be
an old barn, you will receive the hidden manna, which is the
end of all worship."
feel that we need to gather in that great body of people who
are working with our church and yet who have not taken a definite
stand within our Church Fellowship; but first of all we've
got to catch something of that spirit by which personalities
are reborn; we've got to have a light to hold up before men
that they may see our good works and glorify our Father who
is working in us mightily!
feel that there are various and sundry ways in which our church
ought better serve our parish; but we must first "make
sure that the Lord stands by us, and strengthens us; that
through us the message might be fully proclaimed."
there is no half way in the true spirit of Christianity. We
either have it, or we don't. And if we have it we can't sit
content and see people living mediocre lives; we can't be
happy when the job of Christianizing a community is only half
done; we can't be blessed when we see a world giving whole
hearted devotion to Mammon and paying only lip service to
the God of Love! We must be up and doing! We must be taking
the Good News where it needs to be heard, brandishing it abroad
in our lives where it may be seen by men! Taking Jesus out
of the bland indifference of our inner selves and putting
him on the Front Page!
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