WHO ARE WE? Where Did We Come From? A history
We celebrated our 200th Anniversary Year as a church—the oldest institution in Whitman—on November 4th, 2006. On that day in 1806, a congregation was gathered and it was organized officially on August 19th, 1807, and the building was built that year and dedicated on June 1st, 1808, the day the first pastor, The Rev. Daniel Thomas, was ordained.
We have a rich tradition, but we are not locked into the past—we are forward-looking. Last fall, members shared dreams about buildings and grounds; this year they are sharing dreams about future ministries in the church, in the community, in our nation, and in God’s world.
A diverse congregation, we are composed of persons who are young infants as well as persons who are in their late nineties (two come to worship services!). We are a growing church in almost all age categories. We have infants being born and baptized; new children are coming to Church School; teenagers are participating in both Church School and our youth fellowships; and adults are coming to and joining the church from a wide variety of backgrounds, including some who were formerly Roman Catholic.
We offer Sunday Worship every Sunday at 10 AM with the exception of July and August, when it is set for 9:30 AM. Church School for children and youth is held during the school year (September to June), with students and teachers coming to the sanctuary for the beginning of the service and going to classes after there is a conversation with the children and an offering is then received.
We have one youth group for youth in grades 5-12. See the youth page for details.
One hour Bible studies are often scheduled on Sundays at 7:30 PM and on Thursdays at 10 to 11 AM. The Bible groups do not meet in the summer.
In terms of music, we have a Senior Choir, a Children's Choir (for young people up to the 8th grade), and an intergenerational Chimes Choir. The adult choir rehearses from 9-9:45 AM on Sunday mornings, while the other choirs rehearse from 11:30 AM to Noon on alternating weeks during the school year.
We also offer fellowship opportunities and groups, mission involvement locally and beyond, and much more.
We belong to a major Protestant denomination--the United Church of Christ—and we are the only church belonging to the UCC in either Hanson or Whitman. The United Church of Christ came into being in 1957 when the former Congregational- Christian Churches and the former Evangelical and Reformed Churches merged into one. Our roots go back to the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century (Calvin, Luther, and Zwingli), as well as to the Pilgrims who settled in Plymouth in 1620, after fleeing England and coming to America by way of Holland for religious freedom, and also to Germans, especially those who settled in Pennsylvania and are among the Pennsylvania Dutch (from Deutsch which means German), plus some Swiss and French Reformed people who came to this country from about 1700 to 1900 and later. We have many other ethnic groups and races as a part of our very diverse and open denomination, too.
Most of our beliefs are similar to other Protestant Christians who are in the mainstream, such as American Baptists, Disciples of Christ, Lutherans, Methodists, Episcopalians, and Presbyterians. In contrast to the first two which baptize only adults, we baptize children and adults; we also have a stronger covenant relationship with other churches in our denomination. In contrast, to the last four, we decide most things for ourselves at the local level. For example: Methodist pastors are sent by denominational officials, where we in the UCC call our own; neither Presbyterians nor Methodists, nor Episcopalians own their own buildings, but we do; Lutherans and Methodists have bishops with much power, but we have no bishops.
However, we work ecumenically with other Christians. In Whitman, we have the following events with other churches: Christian Unity Service in January, Good Friday Service, Easter Sunrise Service, Whitman-Hanson High School Baccalaureate Service in June, Labor Sunday Service, and the Thanksgiving Week Service.
Where did we come from? —notes from the Church Historian
1 did not and I doubt that many do remember there was a Women's League at our church. It was in existence in 1903 as in that year a calendar was published by them. Each day of the year had a verse or other inspirational writing along with the name of the donor.
Carol Seward, Historian