CONGREGATIONAL
HISTORY

As historical Congregationalists we believe that the spirit arises from the bottom up -- from the people -- rather than from a charismatic or authoritative leader or from certain mandated belief systems (top down).

Our church was founded by Congregationalists and established on June 15, 1851, eight years before Oregon became a state. The dedication sermon was preached by George Atkinson, who later became our third pastor. We moved to our current building in 1895.

In 1960 our church voted to affirm a merger of the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church, thereby becoming a member congregation in the United Church of Christ.

 
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Oregon Historical Society has finished processing and cataloging the First Congregation Church of Portland archives, which totaled 70 cubic ft. An inventory of the collection is now available online at: http://archiveswest.orbiscascade.org/ark:/80444/xv43576 

The physical collection will be available for public use starting December 15, 2017.
There will be a small exhibit highlighting OHS founder George H. Himes’ membership in the church. These items will be displayed from Nov. 18th, 2017 to mid-January 2018. You can see this exhibit on the 4th floor of the museum.
 

HISTORY OF THE
UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST

The United Church of Christ (UCC) was formed by a merger of the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church.   Although formation of the UCC became official in 1957, our denominational roots and milestones predate the United States itself.  Consider these UCC firsts:

  • 1620: Forebears of the United Church of Christ prepare to leave England on the Mayflower in search of religious freedom.
  • 1700: Congregationalists take a stand against slavery, publishing the first anti-slavery pamphlet in the new world.
  • 1785:  Lemuel Haynes becomes the first African American ordained pastor in a Protestant denomination.
  • 1853: Antoinette Brown becomes the first woman in history elected to serve a Christian congregation as pastor.
  • 1959: At the request of Martin Luther King, Jr., the UCC intervenes to stop a news blackout in the south during the growing civil rights struggle.
  • 1972:  Rev. William R. Johnson becomes the first openly gay person ordained as a minister in an historic Protestant denomination.
  • 1995: The UCC publishes the New Century Hymnal, the only hymnbook released by a Christian church that honors in equal measure both male and female images of God.
  • 2005:  The UCC General Synod overwhelmingly approves a resolution in support of same-gender marriage equality.

For more information about our denomination visit www.ucc.org.