We are a community of God’s people who respond to Christ’s mission to serve and love ourselves and others. With the grace of God, we aspire to put our faith into action by:
- Opening our hearts in worship
- Opening our arms in hospitality
- Opening our minds through education
- Opening our hands for stewardship
(See Related Links to learn more about the United Church of Christ.)
What is the history of our church?
The roots of the congregation go back to the early Scotts-Irish settlers who established Peterborough. The first meetinghouse was built in 1745. This log structure was replaced by a larger one and in 1799 the Rev. Elijah Dunbar was called to be its minister. The services were Congregational but accommodated the Presbyterian form. In 1822 a Presbyterian Society was formed in town and from this society our church has descended. This church was a separate worshipping group, not supported by town taxes. In 1825 the group built a meetinghouse on Gordon’s Corner, now the intersection of Old Street Road and Sand Hill Road. The exterior was made from bricks that came from the nearby Hadley Brickyard.
As the center of the town’s activity was moving toward the river, the congregation decided to move also. In 1839 the old meetinghouse was taken down, and using many of the original bricks and timbers, a new church was built at the present site on Concord Street. To raise funds, pews were sold at “public venue” for $25 a share. The new building was dedicated in 1840 and the Rev. James French, a Presbyterian pastor, was the first to occupy the pulpit. The church bell, weighing 1,258 lbs., was hung in the belfry in 1841.
The Presbyterian and Congregational members of this church kept separate identities, but in 1858 the two groups dissolved and reformed as the Union Evangelical Church with a membership of sixty-seven. In 1859 the Rev. George Dustan was ordained as the first Congregational minister. His pastorate continued for 25 years, and as the congregation thrived many improvements were made to the church. During this time the first choir was organized. The women of the church formed the Ladies’ Circle of Industry in 1855. Sunday School was held for children and young adults. In 1894 the name was changed to its present form, Union Congregational Church, having dropped any official Presbyterian connection.
In 1897 the church purchased a farmhouse on Pine Street as a parsonage. This was the home of the minister until 1922, when the farmhouse was taken down and a new home built on the site.
As the congregation continued to grow, additions such as a recreation hall improved the church facility. In the 1950s the Jacquith estate left us the property that is now the church parking lot and the brick house at 37 Concord Street. In the 1980s, an anonymous donor gave the church the property at 31 Concord Street. These properties were renovated and are now rented, one as affordable housing and one at market rates.
In 1961, along with the majority of New Hampshire’s Congregational churches, the congregation became part of the United Church of Christ, created by the union of the Evangelical and Reformed Church and the Congregational Christian Church.
We have recently had some expeditions around the church, up to the steeple bell and down below the sanctuary. Here are some of our findings!