Church History

Following the Civil War, in October 1865, the Congregational Home Missionary Society sent Rev. Justin P. Moore, a seminary graduate, to Benicia. He gathered together a few of the faithful and held church services in Sages Hall (above a saloon), later known as “Rueger’s Hall”. On June 5, 1866, after the Articles of Faith and Covenant were adopted, the first Congregational Church was established with seventeen charter members. firstchurch.jpg

The dedication of the church edifice, still standing at 135 West J. Street, was held on December 10, 1868. The building and lot cost $6,800 which was paid at the time of the dedication.

The church can be proud of its leadership given to education over the years. The Rev. and Mrs. C.T. Mills, founders of the Young Ladies Seminary in Benicia, which later became Mills College, were charter members of the church. The second minister of our church, the Rev. C.H. Pope later became principal of the Young Ladies Seminary. The Rev. Dr. S.H. Willey, minister from 1880-1889, played a prominent role in organizing the College of California, now the University of California. Rev. Samuel Weyler, serving from 1896-1898 started Benicia High School. Classes were held in the church Social Hall.

looking_up_at_church_flowers.jpg A decision to build a new church was made in 1956 under the leadership of the Rev. Charles Huddleston. Membership was increasing and the facilities to handle the large Sunday School classes were inadequate. Parking was a problem and the foundation was beginning to rot. The lot where the present buildings now stand was purchased for $14,000. The new church built for a cost of $87,704 was dedicated on October 7, 1962 with the Rev. A.S. Phillps serving as pastor. Our pews and two memorial stained glass windows are from the old church. The bell, now located outside, was cast in 1853 and given to the church by the Pacific Mail Steamship Company for use in the steeple of the original church. A used pipe organ purchased in 1956 for $3,500 was also moved to the new building. The old organ was replaced with a new Rogers electronic pipe organ on June 16, 1985; the cost being approximately $26,000.

The name of the church at the time of the original charter was the First Congregational Church. Later the name was changed to Community Congregational Church. At the annual meeting of the congregation in January 1961, the present name, Community Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, and a new form of government with a revised constitution and bylaws were adopted.

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