Our Historical Heritage
Church of Christ Congregational celebrated its 250th Anniversary in 2010. We celebrate the rich tradition of proclaiming God’s gracious work through Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit from this place. This legacy continues today as we gather each Sunday to praise God and as we seek to better know and live God’s will.
The Church of Christ Congregational in Norfolk was first gathered in 1760. Two years earlier, the town’s Act of Incorporation had mandated the “power to procure the gospel to be preached.” The first church structure was raised and roofed in 1760 and included an exterior coat of peach pink paint. Under the leadership of the first pastor, Ammi Ruhamah Robbins, membership grew rapidly, and in 1813 it was decided that the old meetinghouse was too small. A new building was approved, and the present meetinghouse was erected on the site of the old.
After the death of Pastor Robbins in 1813, Rev. Ralph Emerson was installed as pastor. Rev. Emerson served until 1829, when he resigned to become president of Case Western University. Rev. Joseph Eldridge, who served as pastor for 42 years through the mid-1800s, was married to the granddaughter of Rev. Robbins, Sarah Battell. The outstanding legacy of leadership continued through the pastorates of the Revs. Wickliffe Beach, John Gleason, John DePeu, William Stearns, John Barstow, William Johnson, James Potter, Justin Hartman, Alden Hebard, Bruce Anderson, and Marianne McCullaugh. Our present pastor, the Rev. Erick Olsen, was installed in January 2004.
In 1888 Battell Chapel was built to add to the facilities of the church. The present pillared porch was built in 1927. In 1929 the Tiffany stained glass windows, indicating the four seasons, were added. During the bicentennial year of the church in 1960, the congregation voted to join the United Church of Christ. In 1966, the new addition to Battell Chapel was dedicated, addressing the need for additional office and classroom space.
Today the membership of Church of Christ Congregational is over 200. We invite you to join our tradition of bringing God’s love to the world, as we continue to seek to be an active and important part of the Norfolk community and the wider world!