A History Of The Brecksville United Church Of Christ
The Brecksville United Church of Christ sits on the Public Square, in the center of Brecksville, Ohio. Brecksville is a community located in northeastern Ohio, in a region that was the Western Reserve of Connecticut during colonial days. Many early settlers of Brecksville came from New England. In the summer of 1816, Rev. William Hanford began preaching in Brecksville, once every four weeks. He was employed by the Connecticut Missionary Society, and his congregation came from five nearby townships: Boston, Independence, Royalton, Richfield and Brecksville.
In July of 1816, he organized the First Congregational Church of Brecksville. This meeting was held at Esquire Bradford’s house near the town square, and was organized with thirteen members. Eventually, this fledgling church adopted the regulations of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Churches of America. This was done for the “promotion of union and harmony among the churches of the new settlements”, and under the Plan of Union between the Congregationalists and the Presbyterians in Connecticut, to avoid duplication of parishes.
The first place of worship was an ordinary log house built on Deacon Hannum’s farm. The first Sunday School was conducted by John Waite, in a log school house in the summer of 1827. In 1831, a frame house was built that included benches and a stove, costing $187.50 (this was later purchased by the Connecticut Missionary Society and moved to the south side of the cemetery in 1834). Rev. Newton Barrett was the first ordained minister, installed in 1840. In 1843, the house burned down and a new church was built on our present site, the cost being less than $3,000. It was erected by Col. Porter from Hudson, and as was the tradition of that time, the day of the raising culminated in a great celebration. In those days, that included a dinner and a ceremonial cannon blast, shot by the men of the congregation behind the Stage Coach Inn.
On January 5, 1889, the church returned to its Congregational roots, and was received into the fellowship at the conference held at Dover, Ohio, in October of 1889.
The 1840’s building was used unchanged until 1945, when the Pilgrim Hall and the kitchen were installed under the sanctuary. Another addition was made in 1953, with the Christian Education wing. In 1962, the church became affiliated with the United Church of Christ, which had been formed by a consolidation of the Congregational Christian Church and the Evangelical and Reformed Church. On Nov. 20, 1965, the church was set on fire as a diversion during several nearby robberies. This arson destroyed the sanctuary, but the Christian Education wing was saved. Even though the church owned vacant property on Brecksville Road, the decision was made to rebuild on the present historical site. The new sanctuary incorporated the simple beauty that reflects the New England Congregational roots of the church.
While the Brecksville United Church of Christ continues to savor its historical past, we look forward to the future. Inside, better accessibility is now provided with an elevator and new restrooms. We gladly extend a warm and welcoming sanctuary to all. We believe that this is our calling as followers of Jesus Christ!