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First Church of Christ in Hartford

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The First Church of Christ in Hartford, known as Center Church, was founded in 1632 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It had its roots in the village of Little Baddow, just east of Chelmsford in Essex County, England. It called Thomas Hooker to be its first pastor. As a result of disputes between Mr. Hooker and John Winthrop, the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Hooker and a band of parishioners traveled on Indian trails from Cambridge to the Connecticut River valley and settled Hartford in 1636. Hartford is named for the town of Hertford, in Hertfordshire County, England, where Samuel Stone (Hooker's colleague in ministry) was raised. Visit the websites of Center Church's roots in England:

Four meeting houses have served its ministry in Hartford. The first two were located where the Old State House stands today. The first, built in 1636, was a small log structure and was given to Mr. Hooker to be his barn when the second was built in 1640. In 1739, the third meeting house was built on the present site of the current meeting house.

The fourth and present Meeting House was completed in 1807 at a cost of $32,000. The pulpit recess and barrel-vault ceiling were added in 1853. Originally fitted with clear glass windows, stained glass windows were given as memorials between 1881 and 1903. The first organ, purchased in 1822, was replaced with new instruments in 1835 (the case and façade pipes remain), 1883, and 1907. The present organ, built in 1954 by Hartford's own Austin Organs, Inc., was renovated in 2004 (organ specification). The tower bell, first cast in England in 1633, continues to ring today.

Center Church has many daughter churches in the Hartford area. These include First Church, Farmington (1652), South Church, Hartford (1670), First Church, East Hartford (1702), First Church, West Hartford (1713), Asylum Hill Congregational Church (1865), and Immanuel Congregational Church (1899 - a merger of daughter churches North Church and Pearl Street Church).

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