in this Georgetown Church History section is information I
have gathered from many different historic documents, notes
and articles. Sources include: articles by Wilbur F. Thompson,
notes by Irene Baldwin and historic booklets published by
several of the churches to name a few.
let me know if there are more areas you'd like me to explore
or if you have further information. Contact email@example.com
or phone me at 860-364-7475.
Links to topics on this page:
Baptist Society of Georgetown/Redding (1785-1849)
The Methodist Episcopal Church of
Georgetown (1790 - Present)
The Methodist Protestant Church of Georgetown
(1820 - 1875*)
The Georgetown Bible Church (1875*-Present)
Sacred Heart Church (1870 - Present)
Covenant (Swedish) Congregational Church
(1889 - 1960's)
Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church
(1900 - Present)
Methodist Protestant Church Society and Georgetown Bible Church
Society share a long, somewhat confusing history.
1729 the Congregational Church of Redding parish was organized,
and in 1730 the first church built. The first settlers of
what is now the village of Georgetown were members of the
Redding church. The records of the Redding Congregational
Church - of marriages, births and deaths - contain the names
of well known families who settled in what is now the village
of Georgetown - Batterson, Bennett, Banks, Byington, Bates,
Coley, Darling, Gray, Godfrey, Hull, Hill, Lee, Meeker, Morgan,
Mallory, Osborn, Olmstead, St. John, Rumsey - showing they
were members or attendants of the Redding church.
the success of the Gilbert and Bennett Wire Manufacturing
Company a large, diverse, community grew in Georgetown: English,
Irish, Italian, Swedish, Polish, Finnish, French (and I'm
sure others) all came to call Georgetown home. To serve their
equally diverse religious needs, many societies formed and
found success in the village of Georgetown. Below are their
histories as I've come to know them.
Society of Redding
first church organization in what is now the village of Georgetown
was known as the Baptist society in Redding. The exact date
of its formation is not known. In the records of the Congregational
Church in Redding is found this entry: "Dec. 9, 1785, Deacon
John Lee gives certificates to Michael Wood, John Couch, Micah
Starr, Jabez Wakeman, to the Baptist Church in Redding."
older records of the Baptist Church have been lost, and only
those dating from 1833 to 1849 are in existence and in possession
of the Baptist Church of Danbury. In them we find that on
Jan. 28, 1833, a society meeting was held at the home of Timothy
Wakeman; voted to adjourn to our meeting house," showing that
the Baptist Church in Georgetown had been built long before
church record gives the names of members from 1833 to 1849:
members - Elias Andrews, Perry Andrews, William B. Beers,
Sherman Beers, Harry Beers, Elezer Beers, Jonathan Betts,
Mathew Bennett, Steven Buttery, Riley Buttery, George Grumman,
Stephen Jones, Lorenzo Jones, Nathan Jones, Lewis Lobdell,
Jasper Olmstead, Walter Olmstead, Sanford Olmstead, David
Rowland, Edward Sherwood, Timothy Wakeman, Levi Wakeman, William
members - Mary Andrews, Eunice Bennett, Mary Bennett,
Mary Beers, Delia Beers, Ann Beers, Rebecca Beers, Felecia
Buttery, Betsy Coley, Sarah Coley, Eunice Coley, Eliza Dykman,
Polly Edmunds, Esther Edmunds, Susan Godfrey, Anna Hawley,
Anna Hull, Ruth Hull, Abigail Hodges, Mirinda Jelliff, Mary
Jones, Mirah Jones, Ruth Morehouse, Esther Olmstead, Caroline
Olmstead, Harriet Olmstead, Ellen Parsons, Mabel Rowland,
Ellen Wakeman, Sarah Wakeman, Pelina Wakeman."
many years it was a strong society, having the only church
edifice in the village. The pastors on record were: In 1833,
Elder S. Ambler was in charge; in 1834, Elder Steven Bray;
in 1838, Rev. William Bower; in 1841, Rev. John Noyes; in
1843, Rev. George B. Crocker; in 1844, Rev. David Pease. The
salary paid was $150 a year. From 1845 to 1849 there was no
Baptist church was for many years the only meeting place the
villagers had, and in it lectures on temperance and anti-slavery
were given. At this period many in the north were in favor
of slavery and the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions had
many a debate. Georgetown was strongly anti-slavery and it
is a historical fact that one of the first anti-slavery society
in Connecticut was started in Georgetown in Oct. 1838.
Erasmus Hudson and Rev. Nathaniel Colver were appointed by
the Anti-Slavery Society of Connecticut to lecture on slavery.
On Nov. 16, 1838, a call was issued for an anti-slavery convention
to be held in the Baptist Church in Gcorgetown. On Nov. 26,
1838 Messrs. Colver and Hulson addressed the meeting. But
the opposition was so strong the meeting was adjourned until
Nov. 27th. That evening the enemies of the movement broke
up the meeting, and on the 28th of November the Baptist Church
was blown up with gunpowder. A keg of gunpowder was placed
under the pulpit. [So we see, church bombings are not new
to our generation.]
Dec. 4, 1838, the Georgetown Anti-Slavery Society was formed.
President, Eben Hill; Secretary, William Wakeman; Treasurer,
John C. St. John. Among those who were members of this Society
were Sturges Bennett, Aaron Bennett, William Bennett, Sauruch
Bennctt, Jonathan Betts, Alonzo Byington, Edwin Burchard,
Walter Bates, Ezra Brown, Charles Cole, Benjamin Gilbert,
William Gilbert, Matthew Gregory, Brad-ley Hill, Edmund Hurlbutt,
John B. Hurlbutt, Aaron Jelliff, William Jelliff, Aaron Osborn,
Gregory Osborn, Timothy Parsons, William Wakeman, Timothy
Wakeman, and many others who years later became Republicans
and voted for Abraham Lincoln.
the old church record we find the following statements:
26, 1838, the Rev. Nathaniel Colver lectured in our meeting
house on slavery, and was disturbed by unruly persons;
27, 1836, another lecture, disturbed as before; horses tails
28, 1838, our meeting house blown up but not entirely destroyed;
30, 1838, plan to collect money to repair our meeting house;
8, 1838, Society meeting held at the house of Brother Timothy
Wakeman; Deacon Elezer Beers was appointed to ferret out and
prosecute any and all those who have been engaged in blowing
up and damaging our meeting house."
census statistics of the United States show that slavery had
dwindled in Connecticut at this time (1838). In 1790 there
were 2,764 slaves in Connecticut, in 1840 there were 17, and
by 1850 none.]
Springfield, Mass., Hudson was in a business partnership that
sold artificial legs. He was involved in the underground railroad
and he took at least one fugitive slave with him on a speaking
circuit through Massachusetts and Connecticut.
record does not show that anyone was found out and prosecuted.
There is a tradition that the blowing up of the church was
done by some of its members who opposed the anti-slavery movement.
Norwalk Gazette Reported: High-handed Outrage!
learn that Judge Lynch has been exercising his summary proceedings
in this vicinity within the week past. Colver, the abolitionist
lecturer, has been holding forth, as we understand, for a
number of evenings, on the subject of immediate emancipation,
in the Baptist church in Georgetown, and in the course of
his lectures had taken occasion to exhibit before his audience
the practical amalgamationism of the vice-president of the
united states, the Hon. Richard M. Johnson. We are informed
that he accused this distinguished personage of making merchandise
of the offspring of his own loins, of selling his own sons
and daughters into slavery. This so enraged some of his political
partisans, that they determined to abolish the walls which
had echoed the nefarious libel upon 'Dick, the Tecumseh Killer'
after the lecture was completed, a keg of gunpowder was deposited
under the church which had been profaned by these abolition
orgies- and about 2am on the 29th the church was blown 'sky-high'
as John Randolph used to say. It was a small building of one
story, and not worth much more than $500.
notwithstanding the provocation, and notwithstanding the comparatively
trifling amount of damage occasioned by this wanton outrage,
we most sincerely depreciate the prevalence of a spirit which
does violence to the dearest rights of every freeman in the
land- the freedom of speech and opinion. We are no apologists
for the intemperate and fanatic zeal of the abolitionists;
but we deem it the duty of every press in the land to cry
out against such violations of the Constitution and law.
though we would denounce in the severest terms the exasperating
conduct of the abolitionists, we would at the same time do
our utmost to bring trespassers upon the rights which the
Constitution guarantees to every citizen and the violators
of the public peace, to condign punishment. ]
the 1830's, the Methodist Episcopal and the Methodist Protestant
societies built churches, and many who had been members and
attendants of the Baptist church joined the other churches.
This was a death blow to the old church. In the church record
we find that on Sept. 11, 1847, "Church meeting was called
and it was voted to disband, members free to join any church
without certificates." A committee was appointed to hold meetings
and Elias Andrews, William Wakeman and William S. Olmstead
were the committee.
Nov. 6, 1848, a church meeting was called and the old Baptist
Church was reorganized, with the following male members: Elias
Andrews, Perry Andrews, Elezer Beers, William B. Beers, Sherman
Beers, Harry Beers, Sanford Olmstead, Nathan Jones, Timothy
Wakeman, William Wakeman, Edward Sherwood; Brother Gardner
was asked to preach once a month for $50 per year.
Oct. 11, 1849, a society meeting was held and the officers
for the coming year were appointed: Clerk, Sherman Beers;
Treasurer, W. S. Olmstead; Collecter, Perry Andrews; Trustees,
Elezer Beers, Timothy Wakeman, William B. Beers." This is
the last entry in the old record as the church was disbanded
old church was a one-story edifice, clapboarded and un-painted;
it was lighted by six windows glazed with 6x8 glass. There
were two entrances on the east end of the building. The singers
sat on a raised platform in the rear of the pulpit. In the
evening services the room was lighted with candles and on
the pulpit was a whale oil lamp. The church was heated in
winter by a Franklin box stove stand-ing in the center of
the room. New members who were received into the church were
immersed in Timothy Wakeman's mill pond, which was a short
distance from the church.
1848, a select school for young ladies was held in the old
church. The school was taught by Miss Celestine Chambers.
Her father came from Carbondale, Penn., to dig for coal in
Georgetown. He was not successful. After opening up what was
long known as the "Old Coal Mine" he returned to Carbondale.
Among the pupils of the school were: Mary Bennett, Lucy Bennett,
Adele Bassett, Eliza Gilbert, Mary A. Godfrey, Josephine Godfrey,
Mary E. Taylor, Jane Taylor, Mary E. Scribner, Evelyn Weed,
Isabelle Weed, and others. The tuition fee was 25 cents per
1848 the Gilbert & Bennett Co., intending to build a factory,
bought of Timothy Wakeman his sawmill, with the mill rights
and land, building a large factory. They also bought the old
church, remodeling it into a dwelling. In 1875, the old church
was torn down to make room for new buildings. Historian Wilbur
F. Thompson, the author of this church history assisted in
the remodeling. Thompson notes that: some of the timbers were
found to be shattered by the explosion of 1838.
Old Gilbert & Bennett Mfg. Co. office stands on the site of
the old church, and great factory buildings cover the old
church lot. The busy hum of traffic is now heard in place
of the hymns and prayers of the villagers of long years ago.
Many descend-ants of the members of the Old Baptist Church
live in Norwalk, Wilton, Weston, Redding and Georgetown.
Methodist Episcopal Church of Georgetown
first circuit organized in New England. by Jesse Lee was called
the "Fairfield Circuit." It included roughly the area from
Norwalk, east to Stratford and Milford, then north and west
to Danbury and. Redding, and south again to Norwalk. The Georgetown
class was formed in 1790. For many years this group met at
various homes, for it had no regular place of worship.
1830, a small plain building was erected, and served for nearly
thirty years as the Society increased in numbers. However,
on March 15, 1857, it was voted, and pledges were made, to
build a new house of worship. This building now stands, and
with some alterations, houses the church today. By 1861, the
Georgetown Charge had increased in prestige with its new church,
and was taken out of the circuit and put in the New York East
Pullman, a young preacher recently emigrated from his native
land of Ireland, became the first settled Pastor in 1863.
church has been called the Methodist Episcopal, and it is
to this group that Wilbur
Thompson's articles about the Old Pipe Organ and the Christmas
the 1850's and 60's very few of the churches had musical instruments,
depending altogether on vocal music in the church services.
The Methodist Church, Georgetown, had a good choir led by
James Lobdell until he went to the front in 1862 with the
23rd Regiment. John Fayerweather was the next leader.
Methodist Episcopal Society in Georgetown added a musical
complement to its fine choir in 1864, when Ephraim Fitch asked
John Fayerweather to sell the organ to him that he had bought
of Widow McDougall. Fayerweather, thinking it would be a good
chance for the Methodists to secure an organ, spoke to members
of the choir, who favored buying it. As there was still strong
opposition to instrumental music by some of the church members,
it was not thought best for the church society to buy the
organ, but to let individual members secure it. The price
to be paid was $190. This amount was divided into five and
ten dollar shares, which were taken by members and friends
of the church. That is the way the first organ was bought.
first organ was replaced sometime between 1896 and 1897 by
a second organ. This organ was powered by a foot pump located
at the back of the instrument and local children were hired
to pump the organ during church services. This is known because
one of those organ pumping youths was young Harry L. Colley.
Mr. Colley has to chuckle when explaining that the job was
rather tedious and boring, and to "spice things up a bit"
the children would at times let the organ air pressure fall
very low producing a low groaning pitch and then quickly pump
it back up to full power causing the instrument to blast high
pitched notes that would jolt church members back to full
first church organ: 1864; second church organ: 1896; third
church organ: 1930's.
List of Organists in the history of the church..no set
Fayerweather, Dora Albin, Edith Davis, Ezra Bennett, Bertha
Bennett, Hattie Bennett, William Bennett, Elsie Bennett, Fred
Foster, Lottie Moore, Loie Fuller, William Smith, Hazel Smith.
present United Methodist Church has a fine record and history
to be proud of.
constructed in 1857 by Hiram and John O. St. John on a plot
of land purchased from Hiram St. John. Hiram's house still
stands on the corner of Church St. and North Main St. A beautiful
example of the Italianate Architecture which was very popular
in that time period.
1857 building had a very plain interior, only the chancel
and pulpit were fully carpeted, the aisle was semi-carpeted
with strips running the length of it. The pews were wooden,
straight-backed and not all that comfortable. Two immense
stoves provided heat throughout the building via piping which
ran the length of the building and kerosene lamps illuminated
the interior at night.
the early 1860's, our country was in the midst of a great
war, not with foreign nations, as we are today, but with people
of our own blood and kindred. From homes all over the Northland,
men had gone forth to battle for freedom. Georgetown (with
other communities of our State) was learning of the hardships
of war. In 1861, many men of the village had enlisted and
gone to the front, and on Nov. 14, 1862, Co. E, 23rd Regiment,
had been mustered into service and was on its way to the south
with the Regiment.
fall and early winter were days of anxious waiting and suspense.
The 25th of November had not been a day of Thanksgiving, for
in many homes the chair at the head of the table had been
vacant. This fact, with the scarcity of money and the high
cost of living, made the outlook for a merry Christmas very
had been the custom of the two churches of the village, Methodist
Episcopal and Methodist Protestant, to hold Christmas services
for the Sunday Schools connected with the churches. Some of
the members of the churches thought it would be well to dispense
with the Christmas services, while others did not want to
give up the time-honored custom.
was voted to hold a union service for the children, in the
Methodist Episcopal church. Great preparations were made.
The woods were searched for ground pine and other ever-greens,
to trim the church. A great spruce tree was placed in one
corner of the church, and a platform built out over the pulpit
rail. The young people and children were rehearsed in the
parts they were to take in the great event of the year.
the evening of Dec. 24, the church was crowded with children
and friends. The Christmas tree was brilliantly lit up with
many candles and loaded with Christmas presents, cornucopias
filled with candy, bags of popcorn, nuts and raisins. After
prayer by the Rev. Samuel Keeler, pastor of the Methodist
Episcopal Church, the exercises of the evening commenced to
great success and was remembered for many years.
Methodist Protestant Church
avoid confusion this history is the same as the Georgetown
Bible Church history that follows this article. It took me
about 6 yrs to sort all this out so I'll save you all the
Rev. William M. Stillwell, in 1820, organized a small class
of persons in Georgetown, sharers in his peculiar ideas of
church polity, but who still retained the name of Methodist,
though called by their opponents Stillwellites.
In 1829 a convention was held and adopted the name of Methodist
Protestant, and in 1839 the church at Georgetown was formally
organized as the Methodist Protestant Church and Society of
Wilton Circuit. Church building erected at this time (1839)
across from South Church St. on the Old Mill Rd. side of the
tracks. *At one time a road existed that linked Old Mill Road
with South Church St. Now (2007) South Church St. is a dead
end, but at this time South Church St. came all the way down
the hill, headed toward the Norwalk River, crossed a bridge
over the Norwalk River and connected with Old Mill Road.
The Methodist Protestants voted and approved on dissolving
the connection which existed between the Methodist Protestant
Society in Georgetown and the Methodist Protestant Conference
It united with the local Congregational Association in 1875,
Changed in name from the Methodist Protestant Society to The
Congregational Society of Georgetown in 1887,
Changed in name from the Congregational Society of Georgetown
to Gilbert Memorial Congregational Church to honor Edwin Gilbert
Became "independent of any denomination" in 1944.
Even though it retained the name Gilbert Memorial Congregational
Church. It was not a Congregational church. It was independant.
And finally it became the Georgetown Bible Church in 1964
and remains so today.
that is all cleared up...
Methodist Protestant Church in Georgetown had its origin in
a small schism in the Methodist Episcopal Church, commencing
about 1818, in the New York Conference.
the ministers who seceded from the church at this time was
the Rev. William M. Stillwell, who, in 1820, organized a small
class of persons in Georgetown, sharers in his peculiar ideas
of church polity, but who still retained the name of Methodist,
though called by their opponents Stillwellites. In 1829 a
convention was held and adopted the name of Methodist Protestant,
and in 1839 the church at Georgetown was formally organized
as the Methodist Protestant Church and Society of Wilton Circuit.
The first members of the class, so far as can be ascertained,
were Ebenezer Hill, Banks Sherwood, David Nichols, Isaac Osborne,
and Benjamin Gilbert and wife. The first minister was Rev.
William M. Stillwell. The first entry in the church records
is as follows :
first Methodist Protestant church in Redding was organized
in the year of our Lord 1839, on the 15th of the 9th month,
at a regular warned meeting held at the house of Sturges Bennett.
The following officers were chosen. David Nichols, chairman,
John O. St. John, secretary. John O. St. John was duly elected
clerk of said society, and the oath was administered by Walker
Bates, Esq. John O. St. John was also elected Treasurer of
Osborne was the first sexton. (He was to open the church thirty
minutes before service, sweep the house, make the fires, and
attend to the lights, for a yearly salary of $6.00).
present house of worship had been built in 1839, prior to
the organization of the church, by John O. St. John and Charles
Scribner. For a number of years the church records show only
the ordinary routine of business. In 1851, March 10th, a society's
meeting passed the following resolutions: "Resolved, 1st:
That we take into consideration the amount of damage sustained
by the society, by the Danbury and Norwalk R. R. crossing
the society's grounds near this house of worship and 2nd:
That the assessment of damages by crossing the society's grounds
be left to three men- one chosen by the trustees, one by the
Rail Road contractors, and these two to choose a third. 3rd:
That the trustees be instructed to hold the contractors or
Rail Road Company responsible for all damage to the society's
house of worship."
these resolutions a meeting held December 27th, 1851, added
the following :
by vote of this meeting that the society's committee be authorized
to give by deed to the Danbury and Norwalk Railroad Company
a right of way across said Society's ground, for the consideration
of one hundred and fifty dollars." At a meeting held February
19th, 1853: "On motion S. M. Main and Hiram St. John, were
appointed a committee to circulate a subscription to raise
money to build a parsonage house." A meeting held November
17th, 1853, voted: "that the society's committee be authorized
to circulate a subscription paper, to raise money to the amount
of six hundred dollars for the purpose of purchasing Mr. Weed's
house for a parsonage; and at a subsequent meeting held November
26th, the committee were authorized to purchase Mr. Weed's
house so soon as six hundred dollars is pledged for that purpose."
"It was also voted that the "horse sheds be located 40 feet
south of the butternut tree in the yard, provided the ground
can be obtained for one dollar"
a meeting held December 7th, 1867, Messrs John R. Sturges,
J.O. St. John and Sturges Bennett were appointed a committee
to ascertain the denominational preferences of all the members
of the church, "with a view to a change of name to that of
Congregational, or that of letting it be the Methodist Protestant
committee reported to an adjourned meeting, held December
14th, in favor of a change of name, and by a unanimous vote
the name of the church was changed from Methodist Protestant
to Congregational. It was also voted to petition the next
legislature to change the name of the society in accordance
with the above vote, and to secure to the Congregational Society
the property now held by the Methodist Protestant Society.
The committee appointed for this purpose were Messrs. David
E. Smith, Hiram St. John, and E. G. Bennett.
October, 1865, to May, 1875, the church was supplied by Rev.
Samuel St. John, of Georgetown. He was succeeded by Rev. Albert
H. Thompson, of Yale Theological Seminary, who supplied the
pulpit until November, 1876. Mr. Thompson's successor was
Rev. C. B. Strong, of Hartford Seminary, who remained until
the close of 1877. The Rev. C. A. Northrop, began his labors
with the church January 6th, 1878, and was ordained and installed
as pastor October 2d, 1878.
membership of the church in 1878 was 79. Males, 30; females,
records of the Methodist Protestant Church give no data of
the settlement or dismissal of pastors. From old members of
the church, however, the following names of those who served
the church in this capacity. The list is probably complete,*
though the names are not given in the order of succession.
They were: William M. Stillwell, Stephen Treadwell, Abram
Glasgow, Stephen Remington, --- Shemeall, ----- Vredenburgh,
James Summerbell, Aaron G. Brewer, Richard K. Diossy, James
Rolliston, William McCutchen, William H. Bosely, William Cliff,
Samuel M. Henderson, Jacob Timberman, -- Wade, Elizur W. Griswold,
Merwin Lent, William H. Johnson, John L. Ambler, Joseph J.
Smith, Joshua Hudson, Thomas K. Witsel, John H.Painter, M.
E. Rude, William C. Clarke.
Bible Church (formerly Gilbert Memorial Church)
Bible Church, dates back to the early part of the nineteenth
century when it began as the Methodist Protestant Society.
In 1826, the Methodist Protestant Society under the Wilton
Circuit of churches, began to hold its services in Georgetown.
Due to the increase of population associated with the Gilbert
and Bennett Manufacturing Company, there was a need for churches
in this area. For many years, the Methodist Protestant Society
of Georgetown met in a local union hall (Also known as Miller's
Hall.). In 1838, the Methodist Protestant Society built its
own building and in 1839, they became a separate church.
Ad Reads: Gilbert Memorial Church, Georgetown, Conn.,
"The Colt Generator gives perfect satisfaction. Our sexton
says it is nothing to operate and keep it in working order.
The light is fine.
Yours very truly, Rev. Edward S. Sanborn." August 26,
1846, the Methodist Protestant Conference, to which this church
belonged, transferred its relation to the Methodist Episcopal
Church. The Methodist Protestant Church in Georgetown did
not agree with this change, and the majority of its members
won out and remained a Methodist Protestant Church, retaining
the property and building. The early church property was crossed
by the Danbury & Norwalk R. R. The group sold the Railroad
a right of way for $150 in 1851. The congregation voted on
March 7, 1868 to dissolve the connection which existed between
the Methodist Protestant Society in Georgetown and the Methodist
Protestant Conference. Then, on June 15, 1875, the church
united with the local Congregational Association and on February
24, 1887, the state House of Representatives authorized the
change in name from the Methodist Protestant Society to The
Congregational Society of Georgetown.
October 26, 1901, the corner-stone of the present church building
was laid and on June 26, 1902, the building was dedicated
at a special service. The building was a gift from Deacon
and Mrs. Edwin Gilbert. Mr. Gilbert was a very committed leader
of the church, as well as being president of the manufacturing
company in Georgetown and the land was donated by John O.
St. John, a church officer at the time. David H. Miller established
a large land trust for the church at this time. On October
2, 1902, the name of the church was changed in honor of Mr.
Gilbert's devoted service and generous gift of the church
July of 1944, the congregation of the church decided to withdraw
from the Congregational Ministerial Society due to its trend
away from a faithful following of the Bible. This relieved
the church of all organizational ties and since then, the
church has been totally independent. While being independent
of any denomination, it retained the name of the Gilbert Memorial
Congregational Church until April 7, 1965 when it was changed
to the name it holds today, the Georgetown Bible Church.
rich history of the church is preserved in many of the church
records, many of which were written by Mr. Gilbert. These
records, which may go back to the late 1800's, are on display
at the church. You are welcome any time to drop by and look
at the building, which is now part of the National Register
of historic Places, as well as these records. You can also
meet the pastor John Cardamone, who will be glad to show you
of Pastors From Both Histories and Notes by Pastor John Cardamone
St. John (1865-1875)
J.M. Merwin (1883-1888)
O. Mohr (1894-1899)
O. Mead (1920-1923)
B.S. Winchester (1932-1938)
E. Pont (1939-1943)
C. Floge (1943-1952)
Anderson (1966-?) *He was still there as of 1978 according
to the Redding Pilot's Dorthea Stillman.
steps that exist to the left of the main entry, are puzzling
to most that notice them. They hang in mid-air, covered by
an arched stone canopy, admittedly they do look odd. Their
purpose dates back to the time when the church was erected,
a time when horse drawn carriages not gasoline powered vehicles
carried local residents to and from church on Sunday. The
steps are suspended to allow horse drawn carriages to pull
right up to them, efficiently delivering it's passengers to
service, which was particularly helpful in foul-weather conditions
in that they evaded having to trudge through the mud, slush
building's stone architecture is striking to say the least.
More impressive than its appearance is the fact that this
time-tested material was quarried locally and stands as a
lasting reminder of the industries that once prospered in
this quiet corner of Connecticut. Branchville
in particular was a very active quarry area, for close to
100 years. Though best known for its unique crystals excavated
under the direction of a team of geologists from Yale University,
granite mining was the first industry to exploit the abundant
geologic assets of Branchville. It is said that the granite
blocks you see before you today were mined in Branchville,
transported here, individually numbered and assembled accordingly.
Gilbert and his wife Elizabeth Jones Gilbert are buried behind
the church and their portraits hang in the gathering room
to the left of the main room.
Gilbert and the Church
October 26, 1901, the cornerstone of the present house of
worship was laid and on June 6, 1902, the building was dedicated.
This excellent and attractive stone structure was the gift
of Deacon and Mrs. Edwin Gilbert. Mr. Gilbert was for many
years president of the manufacturing company bearing his name
in this town, and was intensely devoted to the welfare of
this church. The breadth of his spirit may be seen in the
range of his benevolence. He left a substantial endowment
to the Church, an equal amount to the state Home Missionary
Society, and the same amount, the income of which is used
for the relief of those who may need it in the place, regardless
of church affiliations. He also left one-third as much to
the Congregational Church of Wilton, to the Congregational
Church of Redding, to the Swedish Congregational Church of
Georgetown, to the Methodist Episcopal Church of Georgetown,
to the Catholic Church of Georgetown. He also funded and left
a good endowment to the Fresh Air Farm, later known as Life's
Farm. The superintendent of that farm, Rev. Ursinus O. Mohr,
a former pastor of this church and his wife, for most of the
time since 1899 were in charge of this work which gave a two
week outing to about 1200 poor city children every summer.
Sacred Heart Church
the completion of the Norwalk & Danbury R. R., Catholics began
to move in and settle about the halfway mark known as Georgetown.
The spiritual needs of these families were taken care of by
priests from both St. Mary's Church, Norwalk, and St. Peter's
Church, Danbury. Holy Mass was celebrated in private homes
both in Georgetown and Branchville. By the late 1870's, the
number of Catholics had increased considerably, so the use
of Bennett's Hall, located over on Old Mill Rd, was secured
for services. The Rev. Thaddeus P. Walsh was appointed first
pastor of Georgetown, with Ridgefield and Redding Ridge as
missions. He took up his residence in Georgetown in 1880.
The Catholics of Georgetown had already made plans for a church
and the present grounds were purchased and transferred to
Father Walsh shortly after his coming. Catherine Miller, the
wife of David H., supplied the construction mortgage for the
church. James Corcoran,
who built his house next door provided the land. Father Walsh
immediately began the erection of a church which was soon
completed and solemnly dedicated in the late in the summer
of 1881 by Rev. Lawrence S. McMahon, "under the protection
of the Sacred Heart of Jesus". So important was this occasion
that a special train was run from Danbury to Georgetown to
accommodate all who wished to attend this big step in the
progress of the Catholic Church in this area.
1880, Father Thaddeus Walsh was appointed Pastor of the Georgetown
Church. He must have been a man of great dedication and energy.
The accounts of his personal efforts and sacrifices, very
humbly related in his reports, deserve a place in church history.
lived in a house on Main Street in Georgetown and drove his
horse to Ridgefield and to the Redding Ridge Church, now St.
Patrick's, which was until 1971 a mission church. Later, he
moved to Ridgefield but continued to tend his flock in Georgetown.
The valiance of this good priest can be appreciated when one
reads that he had to get a new horse, to carry him over the
difficult roads, because his old horse got too lame. However,
he added, he personally paid for the new horse, "because these
people are too poor." Frequently, in reporting his progress
of this ministry, he referred to the poverty of the people.
To the Bishop he wrote, "please do not ask me for an Easter
Collection or any special collection. My people are too poor."
An annual contribution of $6.00 could not be met by some.
One Sunday collection totaled sixty-five cents.
continued to minister to the needs of the Catholics of Georgetown
until his death in 1886. He was buried from Sacred Heart Church,
Rev. Patrick Byrne succeeded Father Walsh and for the next
six years he was pastor of both Georgetown and. Ridgefield
Cath-dic Churches. Father Byrne was in turn succeeded by the
Rev. Joseph O'Keefe, who labored in spite of ill health until
the coming of the Rev. Richard E. Shortell, May 13, 1893.
the direction of Father Shortell, the original church building
was greatly enlarged, the interior redecorated, the marble
altar, the marble sanctuary and a new organ installed, making
it one of the best mission churches in the diocese. Father
Shortell continued as pastor of Sacred Heart Church until
his death Oct. 4, 1934. All lived in rented places until the
present rectory was built under the direction of Rev. Walter
F. Kenny, who became the first resident pastor.
Dec. 1, 1934, the Rev. Walter F. Kenny came to Georgetown
as resident pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, which was now separated
from Ridgefield. He immediately began the building of a rectory.
The rectory was built on a steep spot that required a great
deal of land fill and grading. Most of the labor was voluntary
and completed on a pay-as-you-go basis and as the property
is about an acre and three-quarters, it proved quite a task.
Nightly, Father Kenny would stand outside the gate of the
wire factory to solicit some of the church members who worked
there to truck a few loads of earth.
1936, under Father Kenny's leadership, the first summer vacation
school was sponsored. Senior High School and college students
from St. Joseph's College in Hartford came to Georgetown.
They lived with the local families. The students taught youngsters
of school age, visited homes and the elderly, furthering the
spirit of Christian love by social concern. Sister Mary DeLoures,
a sister of Father Kenny, had a hand in this innovative venture.
Kenny, was a powerful spiritual leader. A book could and should
be written about him. He welcomed all who came in his path.
A humorous and revealing account deserves including: A man
nightly crossed the church land, always in rather "tippled"
condition. One evening, when his walking was more difficult
than usual, Father Kenny suggested he give him a ride home.
When Father Kenny, with difficulty, got him to the door of
his home, he was met by the man's wife, who screamed at him,
"So, you're the one who is getting him into this state night
While the story told above is quite funny I'm a bit pessimistic
about it's validity.
the tremendous growth under Father Kenny's pastorship, Father
William A. Gildea became the spiritual leader in 1940, but
only for a brief time. He died in 1941. Father Charles Corcoran
assumed the responsibility and in 1946 was succeeded by Father
Myron Miller. He remained with Sacred Heart's fold for five
years, then was transferred to Springdale.
1951, Sacred Heart was blessed with the spiritual leadership
of Father Joseph F. Cleary, J.C. D. We were privileged to
have him for twenty years his sudden death of a massive heart
attack in the rectory had a traumatic effect not only on every
member of Sacred Heart, but on all of the entire region, who
had come to know and love him. He led us all from the Latin
Mass into the English dialogue Mass. One little frail woman
who had always prayed from her rosary quietly during the Mass,
began to follow the prayers in the Misslaettes and enter vocally.
One day, with pride, she said, "I now pray the Mass and can
that time period, men and women lectors were added to the
lay participation. Today, we also have men and women extraordinary
ministers, who share in the liturgy and also extend the sacramental
visits to the sick and the shut-ins. Music, once with organ
and a few voices, is now a wonderful offering to the Lord
of voices of the whole congregation, all started by Father
is impossible to describe Father Cleary. He had the gift of
shedding his spirituality on all he met. One of his legacies
is the collection of his writings, "Spiritual Thoughts of
Father Cleary". He was a gifted pianist and also loved to
sing a solo of some choice "oldie" at the annual church "Minstrel
Show". His devotion to children was expressed, not only in
sponsoring their education in St. Mary's School through the
church coffers, but by a gift of $100 to the family at the
birth of a child. He was a classicist, yet a gracious person,
easy to meet.
Cleary, with the legacies from John Pryor and Elizabeth Hubbard,
built Pryor-Hubbard Hall. With a warm glow of pride, he remarked
at the dedication, "This is the first building I had a chance
to construct." (*Need more on the building of Pryor-Hubbard
George D. Birge came as pastor in 1972 after the helpful work
of Father John Norton. Although he laughingly said he was
not concerned with repairs or constructions, he had the interior
and exterior of the rectory painted and then directed the
extensive renovation of the church. This latter effort remains
as a tribute to his excellent taste and the cooperative zeal
he brought forth from the many who volunteered in such strenuous
work as removing and reinstalling pews, painting, cleaning
windows and candelabra, redecorating statues and polishing
all metals. To enter and take even a glimpse of the church
remains a treat.
watch Father Birge visit with the children was an experience
in observing real emanating love. They gave him relaxed responses
with beaming faces and he looked equally relaxed and jovial-
true spiritual communication. He had real catalytic influence.
He sensed the very soul of not only the individual but the
entire Sacred Heart area. Still another contribution through
Father Birge's effort was the installation of a new exceptionally
fine organ in 1972. This has added to the quality of music
at Sacred Heart, where we have the unique privilege of listening
to Mary Fox, an accomplished organist who was honored for
her 60th year of devoted service in 1980.
1977, Father Birge sought a change of duty and into the lives
of the Sacred Heart parishioners came Father John M. Conlisk.
Father Conlisk's homily in his first Mass revealed the scholarly
depth and spiritual strength he had. To share in the Mass
with him filled one with the spiritual awe this sacrifice
compels. All, from child to aged adult, felt re-inspired to
greater effort in the daily living out of our faith.
the first lay advisory meeting, under the pastoral leadership
of Father Conlisk, he made reference to Pope John Paul XXIII's
emphasis on lay participation and lay leadership as one of
the goals he sought for Sacred Heart Parish. Through group
and personal contacts and homilies, Father Conlisk's great
admiration of Pope John XXIII brought the gift of this great
pope closer to most of us. Also, the increased understanding
of Vatican II continued to grow.
sought aid in planning needed revisions in the rectory, changing
the porch into a Pastor's office so he had privacy for counseling.
Later, the exterior of the church foundation was repaired
after removal of tree roots that threatened the entire structure.
the surrounding grounds were then landscaped so that Sacred
Heart, at all seasons, now with its quaint architecture and
scrubs, makes a choice Connecticut scene. The renovation of
the rectory basement, in 1980 made it into a comfortable meeting
hall with a kitchen.
over-seeing of these alterations and the additional leadership
of growing St. Patrick's Church which, too, was under his
care, never took anything away from his devotion to the Holy
Mass, his homilies and the personal counseling of the many
who needed his spiritual lift. Father Conlisk, accepting the
pastoral leadership of St. Patrick's, will become their first
pastor in the 101 years of the church's existence. His quiet
yet strong leadership was recognized by his flock at St. Patrick's.
June 12, 1981, Sacred Heart was blessed with Father James
Dennis. The warmth with which he was greeted at all the masses
on June 13th and 14th was a reflection of his genuine pleasure
in greeting us. Father Dennis had an extensive background
of pastorship in large churches, among them St. Peter's in
Danbury, St. Edward the Confessor in New Fairfield, and St.
Joseph's in Brookfield. He smilingly stated that he had been
a "rolling stone." From that introduction parishioners were
more than eager to offer him all the support, efforts and
prayers to make his life among them blessed with the finest
in Catholic spirit.
the first hundred years, the souls of Sacred heart, those
among us today and the many who have preceded us, have indeed
been privileged. From the small cluster of twelve families
in 1881, the Sacred Heart membership had grown to 519 families
program for religious education naturally reflects similar
growth. In the first pioneer days of the church, the lone
priests offered what education they could with much responsibility
carried by the family as was the case, country-wide, before
parochial schools were established. Sacred Heart never had
a large enough number of children to establish a school. As
the number of children grew, parents, chiefly mothers, met
with groups of children in their homes. Later, the School
Sisters of Notre Dame from Wilton coordinated the religious
instruction program and assisted the lay catechists.
the years since the sacred Vatican Council the religious education
program developed under the guidance and leadership of several
Directors: Mrs. Beverly Arndt, Mrs. Anne Witterholt, Mrs.
Eleanor Rae, Mrs. Mary Zibelli, and presently Sr. Joan Pesce,
C.N.D. In 1981, the religious education program had a total
of 346 students ranging from first to twelfth grades. Classes
meet in various places including the homes of the teachers.
Forty men and women dedicated service though parent participation
with the younger Catholics. Increasing parent participation
was a significant part of the methodology, to ultimately become
a truly family-life educational program.
outstanding feature of parish life in the 1980's was the work
of the students under the volunteer leadership of Mrs. Beverly
Arndt. The many presentations of Godspell under her direction,
were an amazing production of dramatic professionalism providing
not only genuine entertainment, but also a spiritual experience
for the youth actors and the audience. These high school youngsters
under her guidance were involved in social actions in the
Sacred Heart area as well.
the years, various organizations sprouted. At one time a Holy
Name Society existed, also a woman's group named the Needlework
Guild made clothes for the orphans of St. Agnes Home in Hartford.
This latter group has continued and today is known as the
Ladies Guild. Under the direction of this organization, many
social functions occur, through the effort of its members.
Many important contributions to the church life have been
made. For example, the oriental rug, which adds such an elegant
tone to the sanctuary, is one of the many contributions of
the Ladies Guild, the cost earned through their variety of
group and individual work.
men today, though not organized, have donated hours of professional
work in the renovation of the Pryor-Hubbard Hall, the church
and lately, as previously mentioned, the meeting hall beneath
the rectory. Lastly, properly in sequence of time, the Parish
Advisory Council was organized as one of the significant influences
of the Second Vatican Council. Men, women, and youth are elected
by the parish members. They serve in an advisory capacity
to the pastor on spiritual and temporal matters and in developing
plans for the future direction of the total parish effort.
the years of continuing growth and effort, Sacred Heart is
debt free, no mortgage, absolutely solvent a tribute to those
who gave generously of money and hard work.
Joe and Father Mark currently lead Sacred Heart as it celebrates
its 125 year anniversary this year.
1879, the veterans of Company E invited the 23rd Regiment
to hold its annual reunion in Georgetown. The invitation was
accepted and great preparations were made to receive the veterans.
A large tent was secured and erected on the lot where the
Sacred Heart Catholic Church now stands. Long tables were
built and stoves set up.
ladies of Georgetown, Wilton, Weston and Redding cooked and
baked many good things for the veterans to eat with which
the tables in the great tent were loaded on Sept. 11, 1879,
the day of the reunion. The houses and other buildings were
finely decorated with flags and bunting, and everyone waited
the coming of the veterans.
A, 4th Regiment, with 66 men, Captain Frederick Cole, acting
as escort and the Bethel Cornet Band furnished music. On the
arrival of the veterans, the procession was formed and marched
to the Methodist Church. Charles Jennings of Georgetown was
business meeting and speaking was in the Methodist Church,
Captain James H. Jenkins presiding. The officers of the regiment
present were Colonel Charles E. Holmes, Major David. H. Miller,
Adjutant Samuel Gregory and Captains of the companies.
of men present: Company A, (1); Company B, (28); Company C,
(3); Company D, (9); Company E, (47); Company F, (3); Company
G, (10); Company H, (0); Company I, (1); Company K, (17);
Total, (119) men.
the meeting the veterans adjourned to the tent, and partook
of the fine feast awaiting them. There were about 2,000 persons
on the grounds, and over 1,500 persons were served with a
great success of the reunion was due to the untiring energy
and hard work of Major D. H. Miller and the members of Co.
E, assisted by everyone in Georgetown and vicinity.
Bethel Cornet Band gave a fine concert and the boys of Company
A, 4th Regiment, showed the veterans some fine marching, firing
by platoon, etc. Among the invited guests were Stephen Olmstead,
of Redding, a veteran of the war of 1812, and Abram Dreamer,
a veteran of the Mexican war. The day passed with no accident
to mar it, and the reunion was long remembered by those who
church, located on the old Weston Road now known as Covenant
Lane in Georgetown, was founded in March 1889 by Swedish immigrants.
The building was erected in 1891 with a parsonage on Maple
Street. In March of 1964, they celebrated their 75th anniversary.
church has its roots in the Lutheran State Church of Sweden
formed during the great spiritual awakening in Sweden in the
19th century. The members use the Congregational name because
they were assisted in getting started by the American Congregational
Church. The church is associated with the Evangelical Covenant
Church, with headquarters in Chicago, and with the East Coast
Conference of Covenant Churches, with headquarters in Worcester,
was a wave of emigration to America from Sweden during the
1880s. "America Fever" almost threatened to depopulate Sweden.
Coming from Castle Garden, the forerunner of Ellis Island,
New York, many of them found employment in the expanding Gilbert
& Bennett wire mill in the 1880s and 1890s adding to the population
of Georgetown and their culture considerably enriched the
community life of town.
church was the agency by which the immigrant was best able
to preserve his identity, and within a few years the Swedes,
working through their churches and with the help of friendly
neighbors, had established schools, colleges, Old Folks' Homes,
Orphanages and hos-pitals in their new land.
Georgetown the Lutheran community soon grew large enough to
support another church, and the Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran
Church was formed.
Evangelical Lutheran Church
Bethlehem Lutheran Congregation in Georgetown came into existence
as a result of the deep longing in the hearts of the Lutherans
in Georgetown at the turn of the century. In fact, pastors
from the Seamen's Mission in Brooklyn, N.Y. had made visits
to Georgetown as early as 1900. In the year 1907, local leaders
had made contact with Pastor Torsten M. Hohenthal of the Seamen's
Mission to visit Georgetown to administer communion to Mr.
Hohenthal continued to make regular visits to hold services
in various homes. It was in January, 1908 that under the urging
and direction of Pastor Hohenthal, a Seamen' s Mission Society
was formed for the purpose of gathering the Lutherans in Georgetown
for religious services and to work for the cause of missions.
After this Mission Society had been organized, the group sought
out a place to hold its meetings. Arrangements were made with
Mrs. Edla Peterson of Portland Avenue to rent her large living
room for this purpose.
the fifty-two charter members, only two came from Sweden,
itself. The largest two sub-groups came from Sund and Saltvik
in Aland, Finland. They arrived in America during the late
1890's and early 1900's. They were a hearty group of Swedish
speaking immigrants from the Russian dominated islands of
Hohenthal was to come once a month for a preaching service.
However, a service was also held each Sunday led by Mr. Charles
H. Gustafson. Within a few months, at the advice and under
the able direction of Pastor Hohenthal, the members of the
Seamen's Mission Society made the historical decision to organize
a Lutheran congregation and to affiliate itself with the Augustana
Evangelical Lutheran Church. To accomplish this, Pastor Hohenthal
contacted the Rev. Dr. Gustaf Nelsenius, President of the
New York Conference, which at that time included the New England
7, 1908 was the eventful day when the Bethlehem Evangelical
Lutheran Church came into existence. Leaders of the Church
present for this memorable occasion included the Rev. Dr.
Gustaf Nelsenius, Pastor Torsten M. Hohenthal, the Rev. Dr.
Peter Froeberg, pastor of the Salem Lutheran Church in Bridgeport,
and the Rev. Dr. John L. Benson, then a student at Upsala
College, who had come to Georgetown in the month of June to
conduct services and to do the preparatory work for the day
of organization. The church membership was 53 adults and 17
children. (The Swedish members coming largely from the Russian
dominated islands of Aland, Finland).
urgent need that was now foremost in the minds of the members
of the new congregation was a church building where the full
morning worship service could be held. Steps in that direction
were taken immediately. The present church site was purchased
for $75. A contract was then entered into with Michael Connery
for $1,700, to supply the required building supplies and have
Henry (Harry) Colley proceed immediately with the building
of a church. Dr. Peter Froeberg assumed the task of gathering
the needed funds to make the building of the church possible.
the new church building was completed, the festive and joyous
day of dedication was announced. That day was Sunday, November
29, 1908, when a grateful congregation filled the church for
its first full worship service together with the celebration
of the Lord's Supper. The service of dedication was held in
the afternoon with Dr. Gustaf Nelsenius officiating, assisted
by the Rev. Dr. L.H. Beck, President of Upsala College, Dr.
Peter Froeberg and Pastor A.J. Ostlin. Charles Gustafson was
named the first Sunday School Superintendent and Gustaf R.
Johnson the first Organist.
congregation's first pastor was the Rev. Carl A. Bernander
who arrived in the year 1911 and remained until the following
year. He was shared with the Trinity Lutheran Church in Danbury.
The second pastor to shepherd the congregation was the Rev.
Samuel R. Swenson, who inspired and led the congregation through
a period of marked expansion. It was at this time that the
pews were installed. A chancel platform was built. A new altar,
a kneeling rail and a pulpit were placed in the chancel. The
church was further enhanced in its beauty and spirit of worship
by the installation of art glass windows which carried effective
symbols. Pastor Swenson remained for a period of three fruitful
congregation was without a pastor during the 1920's. Vice
pastors cared for the congregation while students from Upsala
College conducted the Sunday services and instructed the confirmation
classes. Pastor O.O. Eckhardt was called and arrived in 1930.
The outstanding project accomplished during Pastor Eckhardt's
term of service was the excavation of the church basement.
The work of excavation was done by the men of the congregation.
The Young People's Society furnished the needed funds. Finally,
after much hard work, a new parish room was realized. Pastor
Eckhardt remained until 1937. Other expansion projects of
the congregation include the acquiring of the "Read" house
in 1928 for a parsonage and through the contribution of the
Naomi Society and the skilled work of one or two men, the
kitchen facilities in the undercroft.
without a pastor, the congregation turned to Upsala College
for the service of students. In addition, the congregation
was served part of the time through the 1940's by three ordained
pastors who served while pursuing studies at nearby Universities.
They were Pastors Martin Leesberg, John Nosco of the United
Lutheran Church, and Harold Faust, who after a year, entered
our missionary field in Africa. In 1944, the name of the congregation
was changed to Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church.
new period of expansion began in the year 1955 when the congregation
authorized an extensive renovation of the parsonage. At this
time, the Board of American Missions of our Augustana Church
had become alerted and interested through the efforts of Pastor
Bernhard J. Johnson of Stamford, who had been serving faithfully
and with true devotion for a period of ten years as the congregation's
Vice Pastor. Many people had begun moving into the surrounding
area, which could only mean the future growth of our congregation
call was extended to the Rev. Elmer L. Olsen to be the pastor
of the congregation. Pastor and Mrs. Olsen arrived October
3, 1955. The communicant membership count was 100. The congregation
began writing a new chapter in its history when, on January
6, 1957, the Board of Trustees were instructed to draw up
plans for a new addition and necessary alterations to the
present church building. These preliminary plans together
with suggestions for financing a building program were submitted
to the congregation. A special meeting of the congregation
was duly called for June 5, 1957. The Trustees presented the
plans and the congregation voted unanimously to proceed immediately
with the proposed program. Ground breaking took place on August
4, 1957, and on March 23, 1958, the new Parish House and the
renovated and enlarged church was officially dedicated. The
service of dedication was conducted by the President of the
New England Conference, the Rev. Dr. Eskil G. Englund, assisted
by the pastors of the newly formed New Haven District.
was at this time the congregation received a letter from one
of its former pastors, residing in Ahus, Sweden. Samuel Swensen
said in his letter, "...I...a very young and inexperienced
pastor some 43 years ago...remember most vividly and with
great gratitude how willing and steadfastly the pioneers co-operated
with me, striving for the maintenance and up building of Lutheran
faith within the boundaries set by the Swedish language and
church tradition from the old country. I also recall my impression
from my visit some years ago of how that spirit still lingered..."
1962, Bethlehem became a member of The Lutheran Church in
America. The Rev. Thomas B. Kline was called to be pastor
in 1965. Also, at that time, the second parsonage was purchased
on Branchville Road in Ridgefield. The first parsonage was
then converted into the present Christian Education Building.
When Pastor Kline retired in 1973, the Rev. Donald L. Kent
was called to be pastor. Property behind the church was purchased
from the John Nordlund estate in 1975. In 1979, the back entrance
to the parish house was added and the parking lot was constructed
on this added property. The Rev. John R. Henrich was called
to serve as pastor in 1983 and Bethlehem became a member of
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in 1988. The Rev.
William Mark White received the call to serve Bethlehem in
January of 1994, the third and present parsonage, the former
John Nordlund home, was purchased. This purchase included
land and outbuildings, thereby providing potential for future
expansion and development, The second parsonage on Branchville
Road was sold to Mr. Philip Lodewick, a member of St. Andrew's
Luthieran Church in Ridgefield. He held ownership of this
building until it was possible for St. Andrew's to sell their
parsonage. At that time, ownership was transferred to St.
Andrew's and they are presently using this Branchville Road
property as their new parsonage.
Christian Education Building was renovated in 1994 to meet
the State standards set for use by a nursery school. In September,
1994, The Waldorf School Program began a nursery school called
The Rose Garden School in this building. It continues to grow
and at this time has expanded to two sessions per day with
a waiting list of families who wish to participate. In December,
1994, Bethlehem called the Rev. Sandra M. Marotz to be pastor.
on the Bethlehem Lutheran Church here.
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