A statement made during our 250th anniversary in 1978
THE MINISTERS of THE FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH OF HANOVER
ORIGINAL CHURCH COVENANT FIRST CHURCH IN HANOVER
Following a day of fasting. The Church, consisting of ten members and the pastor-elect, the Rev. Benjamin Bass, was formally organized and the Church Covenant subscribed to on December 5,1728.
"We do give up ourselves and our offspring to that God whose name alone is Jehovah, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as the one only true and living God, and unto our blessed Lord, Jesus Christ, as our only Saviour, Prophet, Priest, and King over our souls and only mediator of the Covenant of Grace; promising (by the help and assistance of His spirit and grace) to cleave unto God and our Lord Jesus Christ by faith in a way of Gospel obedience, as becometh the Covenant People forever, and we do also give up ourselves one unto another in the Lord, according to the will of God, freely covenanting and promising (the Lord Helping us) to walk together in holy union and communion as members of the same mystical body and as an instituted church of Christ rightly constituted and established in the true faith and order of the Gospel; and further do we oblige ourselves (by the help of Christ) in brotherly love to watch over one another and over all the children of the covenant growing up with us, and faithfully, according to our ability, to transmit the holy word and worship of God to our posterity; to cleave unto and to uphold the true Gospel ministry as it is established by Christ in his Church, to have it in due honor and esteem, to subject ourselves fully and sincerely unto the government of Christ in his Church, and duly attend to the seals, censures, and whatever ordinances Christ hath commanded to be observed by his People, according to the order of the Gospel; and, withal, do we further engage ourselves to walk orderly in a way of fellowship and communion with all our neighboring Churches, according to the rules of the Gospel, that name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be one throughout all the Churches to the glory of God, the father. Amen"
Joseph Stockbridge Isaac Buck Elijah Cushing Joseph Stockbridge, Jr. James Hatch Thomas Josselyn John Tailor Amasa Turner Samuel Staples Samuel Skiff
THE NEW COVENANT ADOPTED JANUARY 12, 1953
We covenant with the Lord and with one another, and do bind ourselves in the presence of God to walk together in His holy ways. We will strive to be doers of the Word and not hearers only, to be firm in faith, quicker in hope, and constant in charity. And we will consecrate our time, talent, substance, and influence as heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. AMEN
Psalm 122:1 Psalm 26:8 Matthew 20:27-28
I was glad when they said unto me. Let us go unto the house of the Lord
Jehovah, I love the habitation of thy house, and the place where thy glory dwelleth.
And whosoever would be first among you shall be your servant; even as the Son of man come not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
On June 14, 1727, the lieutenant governor, council, and representatives in General Court passed An Act for erecting a new town within the County of Plymouth by the name of Hanover, Provided that the inhabitants of the said town of Hanover do within the space of two years from the publication of this act, erect and finish a suitable house for the public worship, and, as soon as may be, procure and settle a learned Orthodox minister of good conversation and make provision for his comfortable and honorable support." The petition for this setting off gave as the principal reason for the calling into being of a new municipality, the fact that the burden of supporting distant churches-Abington and Scituate-was too great to be borne.
The new town, accordingly, as part of its earliest municipal action voted July 17, 1727 that Mr. David Dwight be chosen to dispense the word of God for three months. It is stated that Mr. Dwight (not Rev.) had preached to this people prior to 1727. Hence, when the act of incorporation called for the procurement "as soon as may be" of a minister, the early fathers proceded with all dispatch to call upon someone whose standing and ability they knew. The early services conducted by Mr. Dwight were, of necessity, held in homes of the parish; That of Mr. Samuel Stetson, opposite the present parsonage, was frequently used and was particularly appropriate by reason,of its size and central position.
The location of the first church
edifice was a matter of greatest importance. Nov. 13, 1727, it was agreed
to erect a meeting house at "the most convenient place by the road call
the Drinkwater road." Three Pembroke men, perhaps, because they were
disinterested and could not be accused of partiality, were chosen by the
town to select the site. No record of their action can be found, but it is
presumed that they did act and selected the site where the meeting house
now stands, for it is here that the first house of the Society was
located, and, since 1728, the congregation has here worshipped. For many
years there has been a question as to who was the original owner of the
land. Dwelley inclines to the position that the land, one acre, was
purchased for 3 pounds from Thomas Buck, although that transaction did not
take place until June 15, 1730. Whoever gave or sold the site, the parish
acquired it and took means to cause the erection of the edifice. On
Dec.13, 1727, it was voted that the church should be 48' long, 38' wide,
and 19' high "between the joints". It was to be completed by Oct. 1, 1728,
and was to be built "in a workmanlike manner, but as cheap as possible" -
a mingling of religious duty with Yankee thrift and shrewdness. The cost
of the completed structure, according to Barry, was about 300 pounds. Old
records show that there were gallery stairs on the west end, and that the
exterior was covered with clapboards. It faced the south, had no steeple
nor chimney, and had a double row of windows with diamond shaped panes,
probably set in lead. The interior had neither plaster no paint nor heat.
The pulpit was high perched and was surmounted by the customary
sounding-board. One old record tells us that timber was hewn, every nail
hammered out by hand. the fine beading and moulding of the pulpit and the
sounding board were made from Hanover lumber by skilled Hanover
craftsmen." An old print shows this first meeting house to have had a hip
roof. (Briggs, Church and Cemetery Records, p. 86) One record says that
the church had 31 pews, given a value of 10 pounds each. Another old
record says "-usual and commendable that there should be dignities.
Therefore we vote that the highest pew in dignity shall be valued at 15
pounds, and the next 14 pounds lbs, and soon proportionally lower, until
we come to those pews which are of no difference in dignity; and then
proportionable to each man's rates, either by general vote or lots, to
take in the more people in each pew so valued or prized, as shall amount
to the money". A committee of three was chosen to the delicate task of
apportioning the 'dignities', and, human nature being what it is, in
church as well as out, it is not surprising that the report of the
committee was not satisfactory. In June, 1730, a new committee of seven
was chosen "to make all persons easy and to take in those that were left
out." The work of this committee was approved on Aug.31, 1730.
On Jan. 13, 1855, the church extended a call to the Rev. Joseph Freeman to be its "pastor and teacher", and on April- 18, 1885 the installation services took place. His salary was $600 per annum. Shortly after the arrival of Mr. Freeman and his family in Hanover a new parsonage, or 'parish house", was built for them, not by the parish, but by individual members, and into this they moved on Sept.18, 1855. This parsonage has been used by successive ministers and is now, in 1953, undergoing extensive repairs and improvements. (See Briggs, opposite page 48 for old photograph of parsonage.) However rejoiced Mr. Freeman may have been with a new home, he was, nevertheless, somewhat depressed at the spiritual state of the church, for we find recorded Jan. 4, 1856, "Church met in conference at the house of Widow Stetson. Only 4 individuals present. Prospects appeared rather gloomy", and in the records of March 9, 1856, we find in Mr. Freeman's handwriting, "Religion is low and wickedness abounds, but it reveals no reason why God will not to hear the prayer of faith and reveal his precious power unto salvation", That the spirit of hope shown in the preceding comment was not without fruit may be evidenced by Mr. Freeman's entry in the church record on May 2, 1857, when he wrote, "The Lord is reviving his work." On Sept. 13, 1857, the meeting house was reopened after undergoing extensive repairs, and we read,"-a new pulpit has been furnished, pews have been remodeled and grained-a new sofa is put in the pulpit-a rich, marble top communion table has been presented to the church-settees provided for the singers-". Lest the church be thought too boastful, the record concludes with, "It was a work prompted neither by pride nor by emulation. It was a work that needed to be done."
It is believed by many in the church that the marble topped table now at the right side of the entry of the church may well be the same table as that described above. It may also be mentioned here that, according to Mr. Robert Stetson, the first communion table was a large, drop leaf table. The church and its improvements were enjoyed for a little over five years when disaster struck. On Jan.18, 1863, the meeting house, and the Town Hall with it, burned, the fire having been discovered less than an hour after the congregation left. It is supposed that the fire started from one of the stoves. Fortunately, the most valuable part of the furniture was saved. Until the fourth church was built, the congregation worshipped at the home of Mrs. Stetson, widow of Samuel Stetson, in the same house where the people met for worship in 1726. After the fire, the society began to plan for rebuilding and the following is noted in the church records: "Voted that the parish authorize the persons who have subscribed money towards a new house to erect a meeting house on or near the site of the old house and authorize said subscribers to hold and sell the pews therein until they are reimbursed for their expenditures." On Nov. 22, 1863, the congregation worshipped for the first time in the vestry of the new church, the fourth church edifice, built on the site of its predecessors, and, like the first and second church buildings, facing south. On April 27th 1864 the church was dedicated. Of the dedication, the pastor wrote, "The weather on the whole was favorable and the house filled. We record our gratitude to God for His great goodness, and for a new sanctuary in which we may worship Him, and enjoy as a people the communion and fellowship of the Lord Jesus Christ." Very little can be found concerning the actual construction of the building. Perhaps we do not need to read about that which we can see for ourselves! An old photograph (frontpiece, Briggs', Church and Cemetery Records) shows the church to have been painted white, to have a double row of windows, a single, mended front door, and a moderately high spire on a base. Within, the vestry was, as at present, on the first floor, and the sanctuary on the second floor approached by two stairways, one at the east end and one at the west end of the narthex or vestibule. It is said that the gallery at the back of the sanctuary has been used at various times for seating the choir and, as at present, for seating part of the congregation. It is also said that the organ was formerly placed there.
At the church meeting held on April 11, 1868, during the pastorate of Mr. Freeman, it was voted "that the ladies of the Church and Society be invited to attend future Parish meetings." Thus we realize that all previous church meeting had been attended only by the men. It was further voted "to put the care of the Meeting House and ringing the bell at auction to the lowest bidder". Mr. Freeman resigned July 11, 1869, and on May 1, 1871 the Rev. Cyrus William Allen was permanently engaged as the pastor, in which position he continued until 1879. Sometime before the latter date we read that the usual custom of two services, one at 10:30 a.m. and one at 1 p.m. was changed to one in the morning and one in the evening. Of Mr. Allen, it is written, "The best sermon he ever preached was his own everyday life." What better accolade could be given any man! It is unfortunate that the church records are missing from 1869 to 1885. The ensuing records seem to indicate comparatively smooth years, being the year after record of the annual meetings. On Nov. 2, 1902 there occurred a rededication of the church following extensive repairs upon the inside of the building. In 1908 the Rev. Edwin H. Gibson entered upon what was to be the longest pastorate-14 years-since that of the Rev. Joseph Freeman. At his death, April 15, 1953, he was still one of the most mentioned and most loved pastors whom the church has been blessed to have. At the testimonial service held for him on Sept. 15, 1950, at the First Parish Church, Brockton, when he terminated his pastorate there, it was said of Mr. Gibson that he himself was a benediction. While he was in Hanover he was also active in state, community, fraternal, and school affairs. In 1911, Mrs. Margaret Olivia Sage (Mrs. Russell Sage) of New York, "wishing the old communion tankards as relics" (see church records) presented to the church in exchange for these, a sterling silver communion set, costing $500, and consisting of two plates, seventy two individual cups, two trays, with covers, to hold the cups, and one pitcher. This exquisite service we are privileged to use on each Communion Sunday.
On Sept 11, 1911 it was voted to present one of the four old Stockbridge silver communion cups to the Museum Of Fine Arts, Boston, Mass., to be left there as a permanent possession. It is interesting to note here that the present beautiful communion table now in use was presented to the church in June, 1917 by Mr. Eugene Ashton Perry, founder of the famous Perry Pictures. (See church record.) Since history requires a certain amount of perspective, it will probably be most satisfactory to record events from this point on mainly by dates, taken directly from the church records. Jan. 6, 1918 "Voted that a committee be appointed to make investigation concerning a union of Church and Parish." May 5, 1918 "The matter of free seats was suggested by the pastor (the Rev. Edwin H. Gibson) in place of the old fashioned family pew and was favorably received by members present." May 24, 1919 "Voted that hereafter the congregation stand during each hymn." May 29, 1920 Officers were elected and the Constitution and By-Laws were adopted pursuant to incorporation. June 8, 1920 The First Congregational Church of Hanover, Massachusetts was incorporated under the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In 1922 Mr. Gibson resigned to assume the pastorate of the First Parish Church of Brockton, Mass. Following him were eight student pastors, all of whom gave the church devoted ministry. May 27, 1925 After 18 months of deliberation, it was voted to build an addition on the rear of the church and to remodel the church proper. The committee recommended that this be financed by borrowing $10,000 on notes endorsed by several property owners, after securing pledges to that amount. In 1928 we find that the church borrowed $7,000 giving as collateral a note for $4500 secured by pledges, and a note for $2500 endorsed by Mr. Ashton Perry. Nov.13, 1925 The church voted to include transportation for Sunday School scholars in the budget as an expense attributable to the church. Previous to this, transportation had been paid for missionary funds of the church. In Sept.1926, during the pastorate of the Rev. Myron R. Bunnell, ground was broken for the addition, which, together with improvements to the church building, cost $24,891.36. Dedication exercises were held Feb.12 and 13, 1927. This addition now houses the Sunday School rooms, kitchen, and Scout room. In 1927 we note this in the records: "The change from a parish controlled church to a self supporting corporation is a slow and hazardous process, but after a large amount of work and the exercise of caution, we have accomplished the change without disaster." April 16, 1928 the Rev. Dow Strang Clute was called to the pastorate of the church, but he did not care to accept unless some repairs were made to the parsonage and a bathroom and running water were installed. This instance is included at this time only because it is felt that it may be especially appreciated in light of the remodeling now taking place in the parsonage. Apparently these changes were made, for Mr. Clute ministered to the church until 1930. On Oct 19, 20, and 21, 1928 the 200th Anniversary of the Church was observed. This included an excellent and comprehensive pageant, 'The Lighted Torch" written by Marion Mitchell Stetson (Mrs. Bernard Stetson), a banquet, a roll call service, and an exhibit of historical interest and significance. Included in this exhibit was one of the old Stockbridge silver communion cups, loaned for the occasion by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Mass. The description of the cup as given by the museum is as follows: Stockbridge Silver Beaker (obviously, what the church called a cup, the museum called a beaker.) four and one quarter inches high with a slightly flaring lip and a wide moulding at the base. Around the center is inscribed, "The Gift of Deacon Joseph Stockbridge to the Church of Christ in Hanover, 1768", Made by Joseph Edwards, 1707-1777, son of John Edwards, the Boston silversmith, and has his mark "1 Edwards" in a rectangle in the bottom. March 13, 1932 The trustees of the Bethany Chapel, located on Circuit Street near School Street gave the building and land to the First Congregational Church.
In 1933 the church realized $90 from the sale of the chapel building, and $25 from the sale of the land. On Nov. 26, 1933 the vestry of the church was dedicated as Gibson Chapel, marking 25 years of service of the Rev. Edwin H. Gibson in this area, that is, Hanover and Brockton. In the records of Nov.1934, the Chase Fund is mentioned, being the interest from money received from the sale of property in Pembroke left to the church by Richard Chase of Pembroke and Quincy. From 1935-1940 the Rev. Vernon A. Loescher served the church and endeared himself to the congregation so that we frequently hear him mentioned now. That he was a brilliant young man is attested to by the fact that he was first in a class of 1200 (see church records) and, as the recipient of a fellowship, studied abroad for one year. In 1942 one of the active groups in the church, The Middlers, was organized by the pastor, the Rev. Elton W. Brown. Following his resignation here in 1944 and a pastorate in the church at Chelmsford, Mass., Mr. and Mrs. Brown spent five years as missionaries in the Philippine Islands. On Sept, 15, 1944, the Rev. William George Sewell became pastor and for nine years has ministered to the members of the congregation and has been beloved both in the church and in the community. Under his guidance, and that of a committee appointed for the purpose, the church was completely redecorated at a cost of more than $16,000. The sanctuary was painted a soft taupe, and draperies at the curve-topped windows and the choir rail curtain were made of material of the same color. Tall-backed pulpit chairs were removed and the old sofa, upholstered in sage green, replaced them at the back of the pulpit platform, the latter being newly carpeted in the same sage green. Overhead candle-lights in one large and four smaller handmade, burnished brass cart-wheel fixtures replaced the former lights. An electric organ was installed, as was also a new oil heating system. The Bible now on the beautiful sage green topped white pulpit was purchased by the church; the bronze reading lamp was the gift of the Middlers; and the brass cross and candlesticks were the gift of Mrs. George Haupt in memory of her husband. The labor of refinishing the chairs by the communion table was donated by Mrs. James Waterman of Hanover, a descendent of Deacon Isaac Cook (1828). For many months, church members and organizations, notable the Ladies Aid, worked faithfully to make beautiful our place of worship. Nov. 5, 1951 the church voted that "the Moderator appoint a committee of 7 to work with the trustees on repairing the present parsonage, or the advisability of building a new one. On April 28, 1952, "Gibson Chapel" became "Gibson Hall", wherein dances are permitted, but card parties are not. Aug. 3, 1952 the church voted that a committee be named to raise funds for the complete renovating and decorating of the parsonage, inside and out.
On Jan.12, 1953, the newly edited By-Laws, completed after months of careful and painstaking work by a committee headed by the Moderator, Mr. James Vose, were accepted. From these By-Laws came the formation of the new Church Cabinet. As this brief history goes to print, the renovation and redecorating of the parsonage are about to be completed at a cost of $7,155. Since Mr. Sewell's resignation became effective on Easter Sunday, April 5, 1953, and since that time he has graciously acted as interim pastor, the church now awaits a new pastor and his family to enjoy both the church and the newly conditioned parsonage. As the First Congregational Church of Hanover celebrates its 225th Anniversary it is well to note that at the annual meeting held on Nov. 9, 1953, the membership of the church is 295, of which 165 are listed as active members (54 men, 111 women). 225 children are enrolled in the Sunday School, and there is a recently formed Mothers Group sponsored by the Sunday School. Active organizations are the Ladies Aid, the Pilgrim Youth Fellowship, the Middlers, and the Young Couples Club founded, Jan.1951, by the Rev. and Mrs. William Sewell. There is a large young people's choir. Since Feb. 10, 1912, the church has sponsored the Boy Scouts, Troop 1, Hanover. The troop was originally sponsored by the Men's Brotherhood during the pastorate of the Rev. Edwin H. Gibson, Mr. Gibson being the first Scoutmaster. The Rev. Harry E. Titus was Scoutmaster during his two year pastorate. In 1925 Mr. Robert Stetson became Scoutmaster and from then until Oct 23, 1948-twenty five years gave untiringly of his time and devotion to the Scouts of First Church and Hanover Truly, our church has been blessed through the years by devoted spiritual leadership and by an equally devoted and ardent membership. Each life which has been lived, and each act which has been done in the service of the Lord and His Church has been gathered into the whole effort of the church. If there is not so much detail of these later years, may it not be that time lays in rich patina of color on those events which happened long ago, and that time may, years hence, lay its overtones on today's happenings?
1954 - 1978 The 225th Aniversary had been celebrated.
The final report of the 225th Anniversary Committee was accepted with grateful thanks at the annual Church Meeting on January 10, 1954. The Church History, written by Mrs. Clifton E. Bradley, remains as visible proof' of the living church in the community. First Church looked forward to the pastorate of the Rev. John Gilbert Gaskill, formerly of Andover, who was to continue as pastor through the turbulent times of rapidid growth, mobile population, a war. The Rev. Gaskill began his ministry January 8, 1954. He was "read into membership" by Senior Deacon Clifton E. Bradley." The Pilgrim Association of Congregational Church- and Ministers was invited by the church to serve as the Ecclesiastical Council to "examine and install the Rev. John G. Gaskill." The installation was in keeping with Congregational history as a community focus: clergy, town officials, and public health nurse were invited as well as town folk. Meanwhile the membership grew, the church school grew, and the greater needs of the church were met through the generosity of members and memorials: silver communion compotes, a set of communion cups, cup racks for the pews, a phone installed in the church, new hymnals, a framed cradle roll for the front hall. The new members were presented with copies of the bylaws and the Church History. They were introduced into the activity and life of the church through the "Colony System," a series of visitations organized by the deaconesses. Mr. Robert Ballentine, newly appointed high school principal, and newly appointed church school superintendent, stressed the need for more space for our burgeoning church school population. He urged, too, that the church school budget be placed within the regular church budget, starting in October, 1954. Insurance premiums to the extent of $2500, an updating of the membership list, and the need for mimeographed yearly reports suggest the pressures of growth. The annual meeting of November 8, 1954, after supper, songs, and prayer, accepted the revised bylaws, paid off the parsonage debt, and scheduled a series of Sunday hymn sings. The offering, which was given to SOS (Share Our Surplus), represented the concern of the members for others, both near and far. Mrs. Clyde Bowker was recognized at the meeting for her 10 years of faithful service as church clerk.
At a meeting held January 9, 1955, treasurer Morton Lord was able to say that the finances were "very good." Concern with the wider community led to the formation of a Social Action Committee to work closely with Dr. Myron Fowell of the Massachusetts State Conference. One again. church communication would develop through a publication similar to the wartime Spire, this time under the direction of Mr. Gaskill. The elderly and the shut-in were graciously appreciative of the Christmas caroling by the Youth Group and said so in letters which were read by the Church Committee. First Church took active part in plans of the Rockland Area Council of Churches, sponsoring a series of evangelistic meetings. At home, Moderator James Vose was "concerned that strangers be greeted after services by church members." The Reverend Fowell met in February, 1955, with the Church Committee and the new Social Action Committee to plan for the "great potential in the South Eastern Massachusetts area to promote a Program of Outreach." He recommended: 1.a survey of the community to be followed by visitations and round table discussion. 2. development of an Operational Booklet stating the goals to be accomplished: an increase in membership, improvement of the property, spiritual goals, churchmanship, an inclusion of peripheral families in the active life of the church. At this time the dossal, lovely velvet draping behind the pulpit, was hung. When the Church Committee met on March 29, 1955, Mrs. Bradley was appointed as pastoral secretary. Both Mr. and Mrs. Gaskill were complimented as members of the faculty at the Junior High Conference at Framingham Center. Mr. Gaskill urged the church to join the Rockland Council of Churches, the better to continue the chaplain services at the South Shore Hospital and to participate in the training sessions for teacher and laymen alike. The Church grew, as witnessed by the need for an enlarged communion cloth. A real need for a student assistant pastor was primary proof, however. The State Conference would pay the salary of $15.00 per week for the first year, would pay half the salary for the second year, and then cease assistance. But no decision was made at the time. Mr. Robert Stetson, reporting for the trustees at the Cabinet meeting in September, 1955, announced that: the front doors had been "turnedout" to conform to fire laws, and painting, roofing, tile laying, painting the steeple had all been accomplished. Mr. Stetson proposed a "color harmony" committee be organized. We can imagine the difficulties inherent in color choices, for the committee has continued to function. An every member canvas was held on Reformation Sunday. Canvas plans were carefully made, even to arranging that "a woman outside the church be asked to wash the dishes" following the pot-luck dinner which completed the program. Mr. Gaskill was partially supported in his request for Rockland Council Association: the church voted $100.00 in support of the Chaplain service at the hospital. The church also heard Mr. James Jeffries, assistant minister, report that youth "were a challenge as well as an inspiration." The challenge was well-met, for one of his youth group became "committed to Christ" By November, 1956, the membership of the church was 370. Great attention was given to the every-member canvas. Possibly the reluctance of members to commit themselves to pledges, preferring to give cash donations, was a reflection of the unstable times. However, the budget of $14,000. was capably met. During the term of the second student assistant, Mr. David Pasamonte, Mr. Gaskill had set a directive which Mr. Pasamonte sincerely endeavored to fulfill: that the youth would be the forge to link the community and the wider area and thus encourage the growth of the church. The Rev. Gaskill looked ahead 25 years to 1982 and saw the need for the church life to be "strengthened and deepened." He said, "Together, then, let us be workmen that needeth not be ashamed, rightly doing the word of truth."
Benevolence reported in October, 1957, included assistance to the Little Wanderer's Home, the Christian World Mission, the Veterans of the Cross, and, in recognition of world wide troubles, provided aid for Sunday Schools in Ceylon, Cycles for Ceylon, and aid to the Hungarian Relief Program. Church growth demanded six rather than four deacons and deaconesses. Deaconess Emma Stetson was recognized for her many faithful years of service. Mr. Marion Stetson was named first Deaconess for Life. A change in the bylaws assured that committees would function soon after the annual meeting in November. "The first-named person on a committee shall be the conveyor. If the organizational meeting has not been called prior to January 1, the moderator is empowered to do so." An excellent rule. During 1957, the church school grew so that police were required for Sunday traffic and parking, the general superintendent of the Church School was assisted by six department superintendents and 25 teachers, and, after a long history of church school busing, that service was discontinued. After four years of faithful service to First Church, The Rev. Gaskill was called to the First Congregational Church of Lee, Massachusetts. Both Mr. and Mrs. Gaskill had devoted themselves to the spiritual growth as well as the physical growth of the church. Mrs. Gaskill had initiated the Women's Fellowship, and her efforts with the children of the parish, were unstinting. The Rev. Silas W. Anthony, retired from the ministry of the Congregational Church in Allston, was elected to serve as interim minister. The Church meeting held January 1, 1960, marked, according to Moderator Herbert Jefferson, the "beginning of the end of the lean years." Surely the 419 church members, the many calls made by the deacons and deaconesses upon the parishioners, the awareness of the diversified backgrounds of the newcomers and their particular needs had demanded and received a positive program of action during the year. The year 1959-1960 had seen a farewell on April 5, for the Mr. and Mrs. Anthony for their devoted interim service to the First Church.
On April 19, 1959, the congregation welcomed the Rev and Mrs. William B. Parsons as the new minister and wife Mr Parsons brought new life to the Benevolence Committee, developing a self-examination, self-education program which would further the service of the committee. The resulting Africa Mission and the International Weekend with foreign students as guests were highlights. The whole of the church experienced a spirit of "togetherness" which reflected well planned activity. Chancel renovations were underway, the burgeoning church school spread into the Town Hall, in-service training for the teachers, morning and evening reading groups, the concern of the Ladies Aid, not only with the housekeeping of the church, but also with missions abroad, the efforts of the Women's fellowship for Lebanon, the need for contracts for choir director and organist, the ballroom dancing lessons provided by the Couple's Club from the Currie School of Boston, participation in the Rockland Area Council of Churches, World Day of Prayer, the Communion Breakfasts, and the four part series, "The University of Life" involved members and friends. Mr. Parsons in his report at the church meeting January 1, 1960, quoted the old hymn by Charles Wesley, "And Are We Yet Alive?" He gave his answer for First Church, looking back at all that had been accomplished, and looking forward with faith to the new year, a vigorous, "Yes, We Are Alive." Under the guidance of Mrs. Marge Williams, the Assistant in Christian Education, the church school hummed with activity: new programs, new beginnings for older programs, Christian concern with education in Africa which initiated an exchange in cultural understanding. Thus, Christian education became a part of all of our lives. The Ladies Aid performed yeoman tasks at the home church and sent gifts and money to the world-wide missions efforts. The Women's Fellowship, with guest speakers, book reviews, and spiritual services, continued for the fourth year to enrich the spiritual lives of the women of the parish. The big venture, which first was expressed in 1953, was underway. The church meeting approved a fund-raising program through Church Fund-Raising, Inc., of Framingham at a fee of $2,700. for four weeks, and approved the architectural concern, Lange and Lambert, Inc., of Boston, to develop a "Church Education building on the 7,000 square feet on the church owned 31/4 acre site on Silver Street." First Church was "alive and doing well," and "putting our Master and His work in first place." During 1961, the Permanent Church Building Committee devoted much of its time to selecting the plan for the new Religious Education Building. The final plan would cost more than the $90,000.00 pledged; the remainder would be raised through a mortgage. The problem of space for the Church School was about to be solved after many years of temporary housing.
The Deacons deeply missed the guidance and inspiration of Deacon Emeritus James W. Vose who had for so long been a devoted counsellor to the Board. The Trustees were concerned with maintaining the church property during the period of building transition with possible changes in the near future. They had to consider the need for a new organ, the future of the parsonage, and the need for greater kitchen facilities in the church. Despite the problems, First Church continued its activities in the community and world-wide. The Social Action program aided the Heifer Project which provided livestock for underdeveloped countries. The Church School developed a curriculum to further the spiritual education of the youth. The program of music with Mrs. Anne Doble, Choir Director, lent inspiration to the services. On Good Friday, the choir presented "The Seven Last Words," by Dubois. The performance was recorded by Station WJDA, Quincy, for later use. On March 4, 1961, an important decision was made by the church body. At a specially called meeting, the church voted its approval of the Constitution of the United Church of Christ and thereby became a member of the new Body. The United Church brought together into one new denomination congregations of the Evangelical and Reformed Church and of the Congregational Christian Churches. In 1962 the Religious Education Committee established a Day School Kindergarten, called the Hanover Center Kindergarten, which was held in Gibson Hall. Space for Sunday School was a problem, and some classes met in the Town Hall. A student assistant minister was hired to work with the youth group. The Cradle Roll was established. In 1963 the choir was revitalized, the parsonage painted and a single Sunday service was held instead of two. The moderator reported, "1963 was not a bad year. There were some difficulties and failures, but the accomplishments outweighed the failures."
In 1964 after five years, the Rev. William Parsons resigned, and the Rev. Ralph Rogers served in the interim. In October the Pastoral Supply Committee recommended the Rev. W. Roscoe Riley, and it was voted unanimously to extend a call to him. On December 1, 1964 the Rev. Riley led us in worship for the first time, and was officially installed June 27, 1965. On May 23 an Open House was held at the Parsonage to admire the redecoration by the Riley's and the Parsonage Committee. In October of 1965 the deacons reported, "Our relationship with the Rev. Riley has been regarding and harmonious, and we feel fortunate to have him as our pastor. Under his leadership we feel that our church can expect a strong and steady growth." A Memorial Book was established in 1964, and a Memorial Fund Committee was appointed as a permanent Committee of the Church. In 1965 a group of young married couples called the Merriweds, was voted as a new church group. The Junior and Senior High Fellowships were reorganized and reactivated. One of the most significant actions of the church during the 1960's was the completion of the Christian Education Building on Silver Street, later voted to be called the Parish House. A study committee had been formed in 1955, and later a Building Committee was formed. In 1962, the plans went out to bid. Many individuals and organizations of the church pledged and gave money towards this ambitious project. The Lutheran church gave $25. towards our building fund. In 1964 it was voted that, "the church authorize the Trustees to borrow $60,000. for construction mortgage" and "that the church authorize the Christian Education Building to proceed" Many individuals donated time and labor to see this to completion, and on October 17, 1965, the new Christian Education Building was dedicated. The keys were presented by Arthur Sewell, Chairman of the Building Committee and accepted by Arthur Cram, Chairman of the Board of Trustees. The Rev. W. Roscoe Riley gave the Litany of Dedication and Rev. Pierre Vuilleumier, the prayer of dedication. The minister's study and the Christian Education office were located in the new building, and in 1966 the church voted "to accept as a gift, the furnishings of the Pastor's study from Mrs. James Vose, in memory of her husband."
On June 27, 1966, it was voted to permit St Mary's R. C. Church to use the Christian Education Building on Saturday mornings for their church school classes. Music in the sanctuary was greatly improved in 1966 by the addition of an Allen Organ at a cost of $7,400. In 1967 it was agreed that all major boards of the church would meet on the same night. A gift of $25. was sent to the newly formed Norwell Congregational Church. In 1968 it was voted to build a one room addition to the parsonage. Throughout the 1960's the regular organizations of the church continued their activities and services to the church and community. The leadership of the church during the decade of the seventies has been that of the Rev. W. Roscoe Riley, who celebrated his tenth anniversary with this church in December of 1974. The Sunday worship service has continued to be the most important focus from which the other activities of the church emanate. The laity have been taking a more active roll in assisting the minister with the service, and women, as well as men serve as lay assistants each Sunday. Communion is served the first Sunday of every other month, beginning in February, prepared by the deaconesses and served by the deacons. Various forms of communion have been introduced as a balance to the familiar rituals. One such new form has been the gathering of small groups around the communion table and partaking of cranberry bread and cranberry juice. Two Christmas Eve Candlelight Services and a special Maundy Thursday Service have been established. The choir has been led by Thomas Boyer through the period of the seventies, and has added depth and beauty to our services. In 1974 the Roland Smith Carrillon Bells were given in memory by his family. They are played before and after church as well as at appointed times during the week. The practice of having the children of the church school worship with their families during the first part of the church services before going to their regular classes was instituted in 1970 and has proved successful. The Rev. Riley gives a children's sermon as part of the Sunday service, which involves the youngsters actively and makes the service more meaningful to them. Christian Education has continued to be of prime importance during this decade. The Christian Education Committee and the teaching staff have devoted many hours of time to this task. A teacher Appreciation Dinner has been held each year since 1973 to recognize the service of these volunteers. Anne Olson was given special recognition in 1977 having served as Director of Christian Education of this church for 14 years. At this time the position of Director of Christian Education was discontinued, and in the fall of 1977 a seminarian, William Donohue, was acquired to work with the fifth and sixth grades, and with the Senior High Fellowship as well. Since 1976 the Church School has met on a voluntary basis in June for special programs. A lending library was renewed under this committee in 1972, and discussion groups have met from time to time to aid in the Christian Education of the adults of the parish.
The church has continued its outreach and service to those in need in the community and beyond. In 1976 three Vietnamese refugee families were resettled in the area through an Ecumenical Committee on which the pastor and several lay persons served with enthusiasm. The child sponsorship program has continued whereby individuals through the Outreach and Service Committee (formerly the Benevolence Committee) contributed aid and sent letters to children abroad and in the United States. Each year through the Neighbors in Need and One Great Hour of Sharing programs, our monies are used to help others. A special collection is taken on Communion Sundays and is used as the Deacon'sFund to aid special needs in the parish and community. In 1976 a 17/76 Fund" was subscribed to by some to help improve the educational offerings of the U.C.C., black colleges The diaconate began a program of parish visitation on Wednesdays in 1977 and call on new families, shut-ins, elderly etc., in an effort to reach out in neighborliness and service The church has recognized the faithful service of the Diaconate by awarding Life Memberships to Mr. Raymond Dixon, Mrs. Herbert Jefferson, Mrs. Clifton Bradley, Mrs. Roy Gorrill, Mrs. Marion Stetson, Mrs. Wallace Kemp, Mrs. Marina Robinson, and Mr. Roy Gorrill. The Parish House continues to be well-used by the church arid community. In 1970 public kindergarten was held here until space was available in the public schools the following year. A private nursery school and day care center nave used the facilities since 1973. In the ecumenical spirit our Catholic brethren have used the building on Saturday mornings to hold their CCD classes. The church has continued to provide sponsorship for the Boy Scout Troop and the Girl Scouts, and beginning in 1973 a Cub Scout Pack. In 1978 marks the final year of the mortgage on the Parish House. The upkeep of the church buildings is under the direction of the trustees.
In the seventies during the "energy crunch" efforts were made to conserve, and storm windows were purchased for the church. Gibson Hall was given a face life in 1976. Church members papered and painted the hall and refinished the old deacon's benches. In 1975 a Restoration Committee was formed and has been studying the needs of the church building. The first project was the extensive repair of the church steeple which was completed in 1977. A special emphasis of the seventies has been our national, local, and church history. In 1976 a Bicentennial Fourth of July service was held in the church, recreating the worship style of 200 years earlier. The parishioners arrived in costume, several by horse and buggy, and the militia was in attendance. A fine talk was delivered by Larry Bright, a former English citizen, entitled, "What's Revolutionary about America?" It ended with the provoking statement, "God bless England, she is my past; God bless America, she is my future." In 1977 under the direction of Barbara Fishwick, the church took part in an Ecumenical Pageant that was part of the town's 250th celebration. Now in 1978 this church is 250 years old. In the founding year our chartered membership was 10 men. Twenty Five years ago the active membership was 165. Today our membership numbers 337 active and 99 inactive. Twenty five years ago (1953) the proposed budget was $8,500. Our budget for 1978 is $52,314. Through the years many members have served faithfully on the boards and committees which help the church to function smoothly. Active boards and committees in 1978 are: Deacons, Deaconesses, Christian Education Committee, Trustees, Finance Board, Outreach and Service Committee, Spire Committee, Memorial Fund Committee, Ushering Committee, Greeting Committee, Flower Committee, and Fair Committee.
Many church sponsored organization use the facilities and contribute to the support of the church, such as the Women's Fellowship, which incorporates the Ladies Aid which disbanded on April 10, 1975, the Couple Club, the Middlers, the Merriweds, and various youth organizations. In the past 25 years and back through the past 250 years the church has been influential in the history of the town. We have had periods of reluctance, awakening and reawakening, and as our present church family examines its past, it looks forward to do God's work here in Hanover and beyond.