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In 1814, the Congregational Missionary Society of Connecticut sent Samuel J. Mills and Daniel Smith on a tour of exploration of the western states. Traveling on horseback and by riverboat “they made their way to St. Louis, which was found to be a village of two thousand, three-fourths of whom were Catholics,” according to the historian A.E. Dunning. The next year the Connecticut Society sent the Reverend Salmon J. Giddings to serve “the spiritually destitute and needy territory of Missouri.” During the twelve years of Dr. Giddings’ labors in St. Louis, he founded twelve churches in Missouri and Illinois.

Because of the Congregational-Presbyterian “Plan of Union” or agreement in effect until 1852, all of these churches became Presbyterian. This plan allowed the Presbyterians to claim churches west of the Hudson River and the Congregationalists to claim New England.

In 1848, the Third Presbyterian Church called to its pulpit the minister of the Congregational Church at Jacksonville, Illinois, the Reverend Doctor Truman Marcellus Post. As Dr. Post’s four-year term drew to a close, the majority of the members wanted to retain him as their minister, so, without his knowledge, they resolved to found a Congregational Church. The First Trinitarian Congregational Church and Society of St. Louis was organized on January 12, 1852, at 6th Street near Franklin with a membership of 77 - 67 of whom had been members of the Third Presbyterian Church and Society.

St. Louis was growing rapidly and “records show that First Church was aware of its larger religious needs.” By 1863 First Church had organized Pilgrim Congregational Church, 36 of whose charter members were from First Church, and, ten months earlier, ten members of First Church had started the First Congregational Church of Webster Groves.

In 1957, the General Council of Congregational Christian Churches in the U.S. merged with the Evangelical and Reformed Church to form the United Church of Christ. More than 90% of the Christian Churches congregations affiliated with the General Council joined the United Church of Christ. The members of First Church were so divided that they compromised with a moratorium of fifteen years without a vote. In 1969 the First Church also voted to affiliate with the United Church of Christ.  Please refer our UCC web page for names of the former Congregational churches.

Some St. Louis Congregational Church records may be found at:

Eden Theological Seminary
Archives of the Evangelical Synod
475 East Lockwood Ave.
St. Louis, Missouri 63119
314-961-3627
800-969-3627


Other records, from the 17th to 20th centuries, may be held at:

Congregational Library
14 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 0210
617-523-0470


If you are involved with Congregational church preservation or are an archivist, you may want to look at the Congregational Library’s sister organization, the Congregational Christian Historical Society.

Bibliography

First Congregational Church of St. Louis. The First Congregational Church of Saint Louis, 1852–1952, Centennial, March 13 to 16. St. Louis: privately printed, 1952.

 

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