FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH
By Rev. W.A. Hutchinson
The First Congregational Church of Big Rapids was organized in 1876, by Rev. E.W. Miller, who was the first pastor, and who served the church nearly five years. The first pastorates were short, averaging about two years.
Rev. William McCracken followed Mr. Miller from 1881 to 1883; Rev. Mr. Parker from 1885 to 1887; Rev. Mr. Davidson from 1887 to 1889; Rev. Herbert A. Kern from 1889 to 1891; Rev. Joel Martin from 1891 to 1893; Rev. William Miller from 1893 to 1895; Rev. William Cochran from 1895 to 1899; Rev. William Briggs from 1899 to 1904; Rev. David Blair from 1904 to 1911. The present pastor Rev. W.A. Hutchinson, began work with this church in July 1911. The present membership of the church is about 225, and is in good working condition, being interested in everything that has to do with the upbuilding of the best things in our community life. The church building is up to date and modern in every way. The property is worth more than $13,000 and no debt, a debt of more than $4,000 having been provided for since the coming of the present pastor. This church is worked in connection with the Second Congregational church three miles west.
For the past ten years, C.W. Doe has had charge of the singing in the Congregational Church, himself a good tenor, and so faithfully has he performed this work that his friends felt something should be done about it and got up a surprise visit and presented him with a fine upholstered chair, together with a few lines of verse in tribute to him.
25 March 1894
Get your supper at the Congregational Church and then stay for the parody social which comes on at 8 p.m. Supper 15 cents; social 10 cents.
4 June 1887
The Rev. Mr. Parker has been granted a vacation until the repairs on the Congregational Church have been completed, and will start for New Jersey soon. The church parlors have been fitted up most comfortably and the design is to hold Sunday school there.
21 January 1888
The Rev. H.H. Parker of the Congregational Church has handed in his resignation.
2 February 1888
The Congregational people of this city have invited the Rev. W.W. Davidson of New Haven, Conn., to become pastor of the church in this place, and in all probability Mr. Davidson will accept the call and preach his first sermon here two weeks from next Sunday. He will come to Big Rapids from the Yale Theological seminary.
Church Fire 18 February 1888
The Congregational Church took fire about five o'clock this morning, its origin in the basement, but ablaze in the belfry and through the upper part of the edifice. An attempt to enter the building to remove contents was discouraged by the fire chief as opening the door would make more draft. Later on when the interior was reached through broken windows, Nightwatch Whipple and Seth Plough seized the organ, lifted it to the window and, through smoke that nearly hid them from view, yelled for help; two or three brave men responding, the instrument was got out and found to be slightly scorched. The fire having caught from the furnace, located directly under the pulpit, the setee, as well as all other pulpit furniture, was burned. It is believed the insurance, $1,250, will nearly repair the damage. The Presbyterian people have kindly placed their house of worship at the disposal of their unfortunate co-laborers. Special services the past week caused the church to be heated each night. No one can explain just what caused the fire. The Rev. E.D. Curtis is to conduct the service for tonight, in the Presbyterian Church.
19 February 1888
At a Congregational Church meeting held last evening in the Presbyterian Church the generous offer from the Rev. Mr. Wales of the Unitarian Church to make use of that edifice for morning worship until permanent quarters could be provided was accepted. Other invitations had been received.
21 February 1893
Another ten cent supper will be served next Friday evening in the parlors of the Congregational Church commencing at half past five o'clock.
5 November 1926
Thirty or more persons will become members of the Congregational Church of Big Rapids on Sunday morning. The church is being decorated in preparation for the 50th anniversary celebration. The main parlor will be furnished.
19 February 1929
Rev. Harold JOnes is the new pastor for the Congregational Church.
28 April 1945
Evening Circle Plans Gift of Church Hymnals
Evening Circle of the Congregational Church was entertained recently by Mrs. Russell Lidell and Mrs. D. Carl Rogers.
The meeting opened with Mrs. Laura Westfall leading devotions and a short business meeting followed. It was voted to give $10 for new hymnals to the church.
Following the business meeting a social hour was enjoyed and refreshments were served by the hostesses.
The next meeting will be held at the fireplace on May 14.
7 November 1946
Friedns of Rev. and Mrs. C.F. Badder gathered in the parlors of the First Congregational Church Thursday evening for a farewell gathering in tribute to them and to their service in the community. The meeting was arranged by the church council and under the direction of Delbert Long.
23 May 1966
Mrs. A. P. Miller Entertains In Honor of Blanche Curtis
Mrs. A. P> MIller, Ives Ave., was hostess Sunday evening to 20 members of the former Evening circle of the Congregational Church, with seven others sending their regrets at not being able to attend the farewell party for Miss Blanche Curtis, retiring this month from teaching after 45 years.
Mrs. Miller had prepared Swedish Smorgasbord complete with many traditional dishes for her guests.
Miss Curtis received a gift from the group and the hostess presented each guest with a token. Mrs. Gertrude Barnes was also honored with the presentation of a birthday cake.
Cards were signed and mailed to shutins, Leola Jablonski, Laura Westfall, and Blanche Jorgensen. During the evening the guest of honor showed slides of her trip to Alaska.
The Evening circle was formed in the late 1920's at the Congregational Church, composed of teachers and business leaders and continued as such when they joined the Presbyterian church until the various circles were formed and the Evening circle became known as the Marion B. circle, in honor of Marion Bassler, a former teacher and church worker.