By Pamela Brown • Photos by Isabel Greenberg
The First Congregational Church of Chappaqua (FCC) is proud to honor its 100-year anniversary with a yearlong Centennial Celebration in 2012. “I’m very excited about our centennial. We’re planning a wonderful set of events that will take a look at our past and there will be fun, enjoyable activities for all ages,” said Reverend Tom Lenhart.
The community wide celebration, including all services and events, is open to the public. “It’s an important occasion for both our church and the community,” said Barbara Cardone, co-chair of the Centennial Celebration Committee with Ed Prohl. Committee members include Reverend Lenhart, Chrissy Chapin, Jim Liucci, Jon Russell, Kathy Thorsberg and Pam Wright.
The celebration commences on Sunday morning, January 22nd, with a special service at 10 a.m. led by Reverend Lenhart. “This offers us an opportunity to re-visit our history,” said Cardone.
Clergy from the community, past ministers, and dignitaries from the United Church of Christ, and former church members and friends of the parish, are invited to attend. A luncheon will follow in the Parish Hall featuring food served in 1912.
The church was formed on January 21, 1912. Thirty-seven charter members met on the second floor of Hyatt’s Auditorium, near the corner of King and Greeley Streets, to hold the Congregation’s first service. According to Prohl, a young minister from Ohio, Reverend John J. Huber, who was doing graduate work at Union Seminary, served as the minister. Reverend Lenhart noted the driving force behind the church’s formation was Emilie Barnes Turner.
“She began a long tradition of women who, along with many men, provided the time, energy, talent, commitment and leadership that enabled the church to grow and become a part of this community,” he said.
Today, FCC has 270 members. “The spirit that spurred those 37 to gather in January of 1912 to start this church is as alive and vibrant today as it was 100 years ago. We continue to be dedicated to making a difference within and without the walls of the church, to be that caring community.”
On March 18th, a concert will be presented by the Chancel Choir, Hims of Faith, and other performers followed by a catered luncheon. To further reflect on FCC’s history, a visual display will be presented throughout the year. Photographs will include the groundbreaking of the first church on the corner of King Street and Orchard Ridge Road in the 1920s and the construction of the present building in the 1950s showing placement of the steeple. Also, some of the handwritten minutes of the first annual meeting,
long with old, hand-written records of births, deaths, marriages, and baptisms, will be displayed. A special booklet chronicling FCC’s 100 years, with interviews of longtime members, is being published.
“The goal of the Centennial Committee is to have a series of activities and events meaningful to our current members and appropriately recognizing the work and perseverance of those who’ve come before us,” said Cardone.
“Looking back on the last 100 years, FCC has contributed to the open, inclusive, tolerant and caring civic life that characterizes this community at its best,” said Reverend Lenhart. At the end of 2012, he’ll lead a re-dedication ceremony. “The challenge of spreading the Good News and making a difference in people’s lives is never over. We look forward to our next hundred years pursuing those goals.” For more information on the Centennial Celebration, call 238-4411.