Hampshire Colony Congregational Church

Hampshire Colony Congregational Church

Hampshire Colony Congregational Church

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The Hampshire Colony Congregational Church founded in 1831 was the first Congregational church in Illinois.


In 1831 young people in the New England area were encouraged to take advantage of the fertile land in Illinois, being sold cheaply. On February 9, 1831, The New Hampshire Gazette printed a notice from the Illinois Colonial Association that a meeting would be held in a local coffee house in Northampton, Massachusetts on Wednesday, the 16 February 1831 at 10:00 A. M.

The purpose of this meeting was to organize a Church fellowship before going out west. This idea was growing in the area and flyers were sent out stating:
“It was not so much to promote the private interests of its members as to advance the cause of Christ by planting religious institutions in the virgin soil of the west and aiding the cause of Christian education in its various departments.”

When more than a few people offered themselves to this effort, a council was convened. This is how Hampshire Colony Congregational Church was founded on March 23, 1831. Ebenezer Strong Phelps, a deacon at Northampton Church, was one of the charter members and the council meeting was held in his home.

The 18 charter members of the church came not only from the Northampton church but from surrounding churches as well. They came from Belchertown, Conway, Amherst, Warwick, Springfield, South Hadley, and even Putney, Vermont. The purpose of this church start was clear. In fact, at the service held to...
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