Edinburg United Church held its bicentennial celebration this weekend

Edinburg United Church pictured in an 1848 photo

Edinburg United Church, founded in 1823, celebrated its 200th birthday with a service and picnic on May 21. The church is located at 4081 Rock Spring Road.

Before the Edinburg United Church was united — back when the town was called Eddyburg — there were two congregations: a Congregationalist church, formed in 1823, and a Methodist church, organized in 1826. According to the church’s printed history, the two united under one roof for the first time in the early 1920s, seemingly as a matter of logistics.

When the Rev. Caleb Pitkin and the Rev. Charles Storrs — both from the Connecticut Missionary Society — founded a Congregationalist church, there were eight members. Meetings were held in members’ homes.

The Methodist congregation also worshiped in homes until a small building was constructed by its members in 1837. The structure served the church until 1865.

The main part of the Edinburg United Church sanctuary that is still in use today was originally constructed in 1842 by the Congregationalist church. The building at the time was 37 feet wide and 46 feet long with no basement.

When the two churches united around the turn of the 20th century, it was as a Federated Church, sharing space but maintaining separate denominations, treasuries and membership rolls.

The atmosphere must have been tense, because, by 1924, leaders from the Methodist and Congregational churches drew up a constitution for a United Church. They chose the Congregationalist church building as their home, razed the Methodist church, and sold the land it had occupied.

Flush with funds, the United Church was able to enlarge and remodel its building, adding a choir loft and pulpit platform, as well as a basement that would house a kitchen and dining room. A building fund meant to finance an educational wing got its start in 1954; construction was both begun and completed in 1960. Total cost then? $51,600.

The church started a parsonage fund in 1962. Four years later a split-level, all-electric home was completed for the parsonage. Its cost was $33,500, and the church was able to retire its mortgage in April 1970.

The church’s current steeple replaced four spires that Bill Reiss removed around 1920. He took the six-foot spires to his home for use as yard decorations. Within the steeple is a large community bell inscribed with the date 1844. It still rings today.

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Wendy DiAlesandro is a former Record Publishing Co. reporter and contributing writer for The Portager.