First Congregational Church

Danby Congregational Church

Hugh P. Holland, Jr.
December 23, 1938

At four o’clock on Sunday, New Year’s Day, the Congregational Church at Danby will hold a special service commemorating the One Hundredth Year since its dedication.  The principal speaker will be the Reverend Charles Stanley Jones, Pastor of the First Congregational Church of Burlington.  The Reverend Chauncey A. Adams, DD, Secretary of the Vermont Congregational Conference, will offer the prayer. The Responsive Reading will be lead by the Reverend Ola R. Houghton, Pastor of the Congregational Church at Wallingford.  The Reverend J. Graydon Brown, Pastor of the Congregational Church of Rutland, will read the Spcipture Lesson.  The Centenary Poems will be read by the Reverend R. Hawley Fitch, Pastor of the Union Church in Proctor.  The Historical Address will be delivered by the Reverend Hugh P. Hollard, Jr., Pastor of the Church.  Special music will consist of an anthem by the Choir, and Mrs. Frederick Harwood, Director of the Choir at Zion Episcopal Church, Manchester, will sing a solo, “He Shall Feed His Flock,” from “The Messiah” by Handel.  Following this service the Fellowship Supper will be held in the dining room of the Church at six o’clock.  A cordial invitation is extended to Vermont churches and friends to join in this service of remembrance.  Former members of the Church are urged to make a special effort to be present.

A few words in brief concerning the history of the Church may add interest.  As of other New England churches, the history of the Danby Church goes back to the origins of the Town.  The Charter of the Town was granted by Benning Wentworth, Governor of New Hampshire Grants in 1761, and the first settlers, all Quakers, possibly fleeing persecution, came in 1765.  One of James Roland Robinson’s characters was later to speak an unmitigated truth when he referred to Danby as a “taown (sic) of Quakers.”  The Quakers early held their first meeting here in a log cabin on the Dillingham farm.  They built their first Meeting House not far from this spot in 1785.  Four Quaker Meeting-Houses were built altogether, the last in 1845.  Almost mysteriously Quakerism here was supplanted by Spiritualism after about 1850.

The Baptists were the first to organize a church in Town in 1781, when the Reverend Hezekiah Eastman became the first settled minister, with right to the section of land (250 acres) set aside by the Charter for this office.  In 1795 the Methodists built a Meeting-House near the burying-ground at the Four Corners.  Here Lorenzo Dow, the famous evangelist, preached two years later.  Elias Hicks, the renowned controversialist Quaker, also visited Danby and preached at the Dillingham Meeting-House about 1830.

In 1838 three churches were built in the town, all by the combined efforts of different religious denominations, thereby setting a splendid example of the possibilities of the “unity of spirit” for their divisor descendants, who will hardly die for their faith, but who will argue it furiously with all comers.  A number of Close Communion Baptists, Methodists, and Quakers organized themselves into “The Danby East Village Union Meeting-House” the present Congregational Church.  This Meeting-House was dedicated on New Years Day, 1839, by the Reverend Stephen Martindale of Wallingford.

We know practically nothing of the history of the church from 1838 until 1869, when it was reorganized as a Congregational Church.  These “hidden years” must have been uncertain ones, as were those which followed the reorganization.  The eleven-year pastorate of the beloved Reverend Lucian Dwight Mears, which ended in 1876, was, however, an exception.  The church seemed at least to hold its ground in those years.  After 1876 the church declined until a remarkable and lasting revival was held in 1895, when forty new members were added.  This notable enough for a church which was reorganized with only twelve members.

In 1907 began the long and fruitful ministry of the late Reverend William A. McIntire.  For twenty-six years this Pastor and his wife, Elizabeth Livingston McIntire, who was a medical doctor, went in and out among the people of the parish healing soul and body together.  As to no others the Church is obligated to these two devoted Christians.  To their signal work may be added the splendid benefactions of Silas L. Griffith and of his estate, which in a large measure guaranteed the financial future of the church.

Heirs not only to the brief years of the church in this Town, but also of the Holy Catholic Church and Her Lord, in humility  and in gratitude we remember all that is past, looking for guidance and strength for the future.  We realize that “It is for us…to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they…have thus far so nobly advanced.”  Otherwise the Centenary could not be complete.