First Congregational Church (Ann Arbor, Mich.)

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This history was taken from the church's homepage, Feb. 2011. Additional details can be found in A History of the First Congregational Church in Ann Arbor 1847-1976 (published by the church). This volume includes a reprint of the earlier history by Calvin Olin Davis covering the period of 1847 to 1947.

The First Congregational Church of Ann Arbor, Michigan, was organized and established on March 23, 1847. The church was formed when its first members split off from the local Presbyterian church, both on the issue of slavery and over certain doctrinal positions.

The early beginnings of The First Congregational Church of Ann Arbor can be traced to a log school built by John Allen on the northwest corner of Third Street (now Main Street) and Ann. Worshipping together at this location were Catholics, Baptists, Episcopalians, Methodists, Unitarians, and Presbyterians. In cold weather, services were held in private homes. First Presbyterians and then Methodists began taking seats apart and finally holding services at a different time from the others.

On February 9, 1847, forty-eight members of the Presbyterian Church who had roots in Congregationalism were dissatisfied with the Presbyterian form of government and disagreed with the Presbyterian minister who would not renounce Negro slavery. This group met to begin formal steps toward severance and to select a site for a new church. Two weeks later the lot selected was purchased for $600.

During the building of the new church, the new Congregational Society held services in the courthouse. The church actually consisted at the time of two organizations: "Church" for spiritual matters and "Society" for business affairs. It would be the year 1913 when the "Church" and "Society" merged. After a number of "supply ministers" (ministers who would take a temporary one-year assignment with the church) and several attempts to procure a permanent minister, the Reverend L. S. Hobart of Union City, Michigan was hired November 18, 1848.

The newly built Congregational Church building on the corner of Fifth and Washington Streets in Ann Arbor was dedicated on June 21, 1849. By 1851, the church had 113 members. Two years later the church adopted a resolution against slavery, excluding from membership and as ministers any slaveholder or advocate of or apologist for slavery.

As membership grew, a resolution was passed to build a new church building at the present location at the corner of State Street and William Street in Ann Arbor. The cornerstone was laid on June 23, 1872. On May 10, 1876, the present building was dedicated.

The Congregational-Disciples Student Guild was formed in November 1942 as the church grew. This vital organization continues today as the Guild House Ministry to University students.

The church continued to grow physically also. In 1953, the Douglas Memorial Chapel, Pilgrim Hall, the Mayflower Room, offices, and classrooms were added. A fifth renovation of the chancel area in 1985 saw the installation of the Wilhelm organ, the third in the Church's history.

From the guide to the First Congregational Church, Ann Arbor, Mich., Records, 1847-2012, (Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Guild House records, 1924-2005, 1940-1990 Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Ann Arbor, Michigan photograph collection, 1860s-1970s Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Horace L. Wilgus Papers, 1878-1935 Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Charles A. Sink Papers, 1890s-1996 Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Lloyd C. Douglas Papers, 1900-1954 Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Clarence T. Johnston papers, 1888-1941 Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Calvin O. Davis papers, 1910-1941 Bentley Historical Library
creatorOf First Congregational Church, Ann Arbor, Mich., Records, 1847-2012 Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Sink, Charles A. (Charles Albert), 1879-1972. Charles Albert Sink papers, 1907-1996. Bentley Historical Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Ann Arbor-Washtenaw Council of Churches. corporateBody
associatedWith Bentley Historical Library collector corporateBody
associatedWith Congregational Churches corporateBody
associatedWith Davis, Calvin Olin, 1871- person
associatedWith Douglas, Lloyd C. (Lloyd Cassel), 1877-1951 person
associatedWith Evangelical and Reformed Church. corporateBody
associatedWith Guild House (Ann Arbor, Mich.) corporateBody
associatedWith International Order of the King's Daughters and Sons. corporateBody
associatedWith Johnston, Clarence Thomas, 1872-1970 person
associatedWith Sink, Charles A. (Charles Albert), 1879-1972. person
associatedWith Wilgus, Horace L. (Horace La Fayette), 1859-1935 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Ann Arbor (Mich.)
Congregational churches
Registers of births, etc.
Stained glass

Corporate Body

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SNAC ID: 73458240