2011-02-25 / Community

First Congregational Church Celebrates 125 Years


For its “birthday party,” the church was decorated with balloons and hand-painted banners. Historical in-formation was displayed about the stained glass windows and church members to whom each window was dedicated. For its “birthday party,” the church was decorated with balloons and hand-painted banners. Historical in-formation was displayed about the stained glass windows and church members to whom each window was dedicated. On February 22, 1886, a group of sturdy 1800s entrepreneurs, led by Fannie Holland, came together and voted to form a Congregational church in the heart of Rockaway Beach. The church, which Holland and her neighbors originally organized as the First Congregational Society, has operated continuously since that time, holding services at three different sites in the neighborhood, before the present church sanctuary at 320 Beach 94 Street was dedicated in 1941.

This past Sunday, church members and supporters joined for a festive service, looking back at their history and proudly vowing to move forward even more passionately with their ministries of love and social justice in the future. Other events are planned for the coming year, including a dramatic presentation about the church founders. The community is invited to attend these events, which will be publicized in The Wave. Photos by Vivian Rattay Carter



The service began with a sacred dance performance by a group of church members. Leader of the group, Deborah Rowe (center), bows, along with Kathy Woods (left). Church member Gordon Williams (near podium), percussionist for the group and reader for the service, also gathered and arranged a display of church artifacts and historic photos, some dating to the 1890s and early 1900s. The service began with a sacred dance performance by a group of church members. Leader of the group, Deborah Rowe (center), bows, along with Kathy Woods (left). Church member Gordon Williams (near podium), percussionist for the group and reader for the service, also gathered and arranged a display of church artifacts and historic photos, some dating to the 1890s and early 1900s.

Distinguished guest speaker, the Rev. Freeman Palmer, Metropolitan Conference Minister, presented a proclamation from the United Church of Christ to the Rev. Joseph Medlin, Pastor of First Congregational. Distinguished guest speaker, the Rev. Freeman Palmer, Metropolitan Conference Minister, presented a proclamation from the United Church of Christ to the Rev. Joseph Medlin, Pastor of First Congregational.

The Rev. Jan Powell, who served the church as Pastor from 2001 to 2006, returned to help officiate. She joyously blessed the potluck table that followed, as well. The Rev. Jan Powell, who served the church as Pastor from 2001 to 2006, returned to help officiate. She joyously blessed the potluck table that followed, as well.

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