The First Congregational Church
Official Souvenir Program Book
January 1 - December 31, 1988
By Laura MacLean, Historian
The First Congregational Church of Hampton was founded by the Reverend Stephen Bachiler.
The Memorial Monument at Founder's Park bears the following inscription in part: "A little band of pioneers under the leadership of the Rev. Stephen Bachiler of South Hampton, England, seeking for a larger liberty in October 1638 settled in the wilderness near this spot to plant a free-church in a free town."
From that time until the present (1988) the church has preached the gospel continuously, making it the oldest continuous congregation in the United States.
The first little log meeting house was built before the settlers had finished their own houses.
At first the town and church government were one, but by the year 1840 the town had severed its control over religious affairs and the present church building was erected in 1844. For nearly 150 years it has served the Congregational denomination independent of the town.
It has been renovated and added to, and was damaged by three fires, two of which were accidental and one of incendiary origin. In 1980 through the generosity of Horace E. Hobbs and other members, a new steeple replaced the one originally built.
Four major historical links with the past still exist in this, the sixth building; the ancient communion silver purchased by members of the church in the early 1700's, the beautiful octagonal pulpit built for the 5th meetinghouse in 1796, the bell from the same building — now mounted in front of the church, and an old cello, hand made in 1836 by a native son, David Marston and played in the church for 10 years by Daniel Hobbs. This was the first musical instrument used in the church services.
The organization of the church has changed over the years. In the early days, the church was made up of two parts -— The Congregational Church and The Congregational Society. The society which had charge of the finances and care of the real estate had been a strictly male organization until 1923. That year women members were admitted to the society. The church was responsible for spiritual affairs. On March 3, 1938 the society and the church were incorporated according to the laws of New Hampshire under Secretary of State Enoch Fuller. Henceforth the organization would be called The First Congregational Church of Hampton, N. H. Inc.
During 350 years, of course there were times of upheaval. In 1792 a Presbyterian group became larger than the Congregational membership and took over the meeting house. Consequently, the Congregationalists held services elsewhere until they could rebuild.
As the town grew, various segments of the people severed connection with Hampton and formed daughter towns and churches. With God's help through this and other times of stress the church has survived and regained its strength.
From Stephen Bachiler's first sermon on October 14, 1638 to the first Sunday School in 1818, to the present, this church has shared the message of Jesus Christ. As we approach the 350th anniversary, we say, as did Rev. John Ross in 1902, "May this old church, which has such a grand history behind it, for many centuries to come still point the way to heaven."
Hampton's 350th Celebration
The First Congregational Church of Hampton
Rev. Stephen R. Bowden, Pastor
Rev. James A. Barclay, Pastor Emeritus
Rev. Stephen R. Bowden, The First Congregational Church, Chairman
Rev. James Watson, Our Lady of Miraculous Medal Parish
Rev. Warren Dean, Trinity Episcopal Church
Dr. Peter Roussaki, The First Baptist Church
Rev. C. Edward Claus, United Methodist Church
Rev. Duane Windemiller, Hampton Beach Community Church
Rev. Rex Hutto, Faith Community Church
Rev. William Nielsen, Maranantha Assembly of God Church
Mr. Randy Murphy, New Covenant Congregational Church
Mr. Robert Lovejoy, Hampton Christian Church
Special Sunday Observances of
The First Congregational Church for the Year 1988
ECUMENICAL SERVICE AT THE FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH
All area churches will be participating in this service.
February 14, 1988 at 10:00 a.m.
PAST AND PRESENT DEACON'S SUNDAY AND LAYMAN'S SUNDAY
March, 20, 1988 at 10:00 a.m.
DAVID L. GRAY D. MIN., FORMER ASSOC. SEC. OF NACCC, TO BE SPEAKER AT THE CHURCH.
Everyone is invited to hear this inspiring speaker.
April 22, 1988 at 8:00 p.m.
ROCKINGHAM CHORALE SOCIETY
A concert will be held at the church with Dr. Henry Wing directing. He is a direct descendant of Rev. Stephen Bachiler. [NO DONATION]
May 22, 1988 at 10:00 a.m.
PAST PASTOR'S SUNDAY
June 12, 1988 at 10:00 a.m.
A 350th birthday party will be held for the children.
July 17, 1988 at 10:00 a.m.
DAUGHTER TOWN'S SUNDAY
All daughter town churches will be invited to the service at the Church.
August 14, 1988 at 10:00 a.m.
DESCENDANTS OF THE FIRST FAMILIES SUNDAY
September 11, 1988
OLDEST MEMBER SUNDAY
Participation in the town parade.
October 16, 1988 10:00 a.m.
FOUNDER'S DAY SERVICE AND OPEN HOUSE.
Militia Guard will be at the church.
November 13, 1988
RELIGIOUS CONCERT BY ANTHONY DEPETRO, KENNETH LANG, & REV. DUANE WINDEMILLER.
December 11, 1988 at 7:30 p.m.
ECUMENICAL SUNDAY TO BE HELD AT WINNACUNNET HIGH SCHOOL.
WATCH FOR FURTHER NOTICE OF THESE SPECIAL EVENTS.