The Orange Congregational Church belongs to the United Church of Christ, but is part of the heritage of the Puritans and Pilgrims who emerged out of the 16th century Protestant Reformation in England. Congregationalists, as we were known in the 1700s and 1800s in America, who lived in North Milford (now Orange) traveled four miles each way to Milford Center to worship. This was especially difficult in the winter and early spring.
In 1792 the first meetinghouse was erected in North Milford, measuring 30’ by 36’, and was located at the north end of what is today the Orange town Green. On May 8, 1804 the town fathers petitioned the General Assembly in Hartford to form an Ecclesiastical Society. This was the first step in establishing a Congregational church in colonial and early 19th century New England. The Society was established December 3, 1804 and was charged with the financial and property interests of the church.
On February 24, 1805, Erastus Scranton, a Yale Divinity School student from Madison, began preaching. He was ordained in June and became our church’s first minister. Several months earlier, on March 13, our church was gathered when 54 members from the two Milford churches residing in North Milford covenanted together to walk in the ways of the Lord. The church is the congregation, the covenant body of believers, as opposed to the building known as the meetinghouse. Our original name was “The Church of Christ in North Milford.” Taxes supported the church until 1818 when Connecticut disestablished the Congregational way as the official church.
In response to the growing ecumenical spirit of union in the first half of the 20th century, the United Church of Christ was formed in 1957 as a merger of the Congregational Christian churches and the Evangelical and Reformed churches each an earlier merger of two denominations in 1931 and 1934 respectively. Our congregation voted to join the UCC in 1961.
In July 2001 ground was broken for new construction on the north side of the office wing and renovation of other spaces began as well, including air conditioning, renovated classrooms and an elevator between the basement and second floor. This most recent work was dedicated on April 13, 2003. Our church celebrated its bicentennial in 2005. In 200 hundred years we have grown from 54 members to more than 750. That same year we also honored the 20th anniversary of the Reverend Stoddon G.N. King, the church’s 25th minister.
On June 27 we celebrated the bicentennial of the beginning of construction of our meeting house in 1810. Reverend King's sermon commemorated the event by recounting some of the early history of our meeting house and congregation.
Our church is a member of the New Haven Association and the Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ. We welcome all to worship with us and join us as we continue in our striving to know the will of God and walk the way of Christ.