By TAYLOR HARTZ
Last Sunday, the Plantsville Congregational Church kicked off several months of celebrations in honor of the church’s 150th anniversary.
In this week’s service, pastor Paul Goodman recognized 35 members who have been attending Plantsville Congregational Church for at least 50 years. Some, including Doris Hanser, Richard Smith, and Beverly Wight, have been faithful members for more than seven decades.
The church is no stranger to long time commitments, having been a part of the Plantsville community since 1865.
Established because the 1.5 mile distance to the Southington church was too much of a commute by horse and buggy, the Plantsville congregation began with 68 members. They formed a new congregation and donated more than half the cost of the church’s $22,000 design.
“I think its important for churches to look at what motivated the forbearers to decide to plant a church,” said Paul Goodman, who has been the interim pastor since April 2014, “to see what it meant to them and what its meant to the community that came after them.”
Though its official anniversary is in December, the church has a full calendar of festivities scheduled.
Sunday kicked off the celebratory events, modeled after the original service the church held in the 1800s, when the congregation would gather for worship, join each other for lunch and conversation, and attend a second afternoon service.
Following their morning service, volunteers served sandwiches and cake as friends, and families socialized and enjoyed a historical display.
Church members had set up a room full of memorabilia dating back to the 1860s, including the church’s first bible used by Rev. William Eastman, appointed in 1866, and the building’s architectural plans.
George Smith, who was chairman of the building committee, kept many of the documents concerning the church’s construction, and gave them to his daughters, who now live on Church Street.
The artifacts will remain on display at the church from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, for the next several months.
Following the lunch and exhibit, Marie Secondo, curator of the Barnes Museum hosted a ‘second hour’ program where she shared stories with the congregation about what life was like for Plantsville and Southington residents back in 1865.
Secondo gave a historical account of the social, religious, and political practices at the time of the church’s inception, and invited members to view a display she had set up at the altar as she referenced collections at the Southington museum.
Alan DeBisschop and Corie Lanning, co-chairs of the anniversary planning committee, have been working for a year and a half to coordinate the events. Both hope the celebrations will commemorate the church’s past, and celebrate its future.
“I think that history is important, to find out why our forefathers formed the church and the feelings that they had at the time,” said DeBisschop, who hopes the significance of the anniversary will appeal, especially to the younger generations.
“To be able to grow in a community, you have to be able to keep up with what you learn from the past,” said Lanning. “I just think it’s a wonderful celebration to be able to look back and see what those before us were able to accomplish.”
Next month, the church will celebrate its impressive milestone with an anniversary float in the Apple Harvest Festival parade, and a 150th Anniversary celebration luncheon at Hawk’s Landing that will take place on Oct. 18th by reservation only.
On Nov. 14, the congregation will hold its 25th annual “Ye Olde Country Fair” where anniversary cookbooks will be on sale.
A special service will be held on the day of the anniversary, Dec. 20, but the celebrations won’t stop there.
The congregation will continue celebrating with the reading of a play titled “Looking Back” during their Jan. 10 service, a historical 19th century style service on Feb. 14, and the burying of a time capsule outside the church on March 20.
More information on the anniversary events can be found at www. plantsvilleucc.org.