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The First Congregational Church of Wayne

The First Congregational Church of Wayne was gathered on August 20, 1848. On this site in 1849, the first church building in Wayne was erected by the Church Society at a cost of $1,200. The original New England style meeting house underwent many additions and alterations faithfully serving the community until August 12, 1970 when it burned.

The present meetinghouse was dedicated in 1973 continuing the church's tradition of service to the community. Central to the church's mission is its responsibility to encourage the pursuit of truth known or to be made known, and to encourage action in matters of conscience and personal life. As an autonomous gathering of Christians, the Wayne church continues in the heritage of the Pilgrims.

The church stands as an autonomous gathering of Christians without outside judicial authority, save Jesus the Christ as sole head of the church. Persons of many faiths have found spiritual reassurance in our covenant preamble: We believe in the freedom and responsibility of the individual soul, and the right of private judgment.

On August 20, 1848, the First Congregational Church of Wayne was founded. Gold had just been discovered in California, the University of Michigan had 89 students, and Wayne was just a trading post along an Indian trail between Detroit and Chicago.

The first building used for services was a one-room schoolhouse with the Rev. J. C. Kidder as minister. The first church structure on the present property was built in 1849. It was also used by the Methodists for their services until 1862, when they built their first church building.

Many changes have been made to the church complex since that time. The main building and sanctuary were enlarged and a parlor was added. Stained glass windows were installed in 1910, and the parlor and basement were added in 1928.

In August of 1970, the original church structure was destroyed by fire, leaving only the church school building. The cornerstone of the present church building was laid in 1973, with this structure being built around the existing church school building.

Financially, the church has weathered many crises. Support came from gifts and pew rentals until 1894, when the present pledge system was adopted. These monies had to be supplemented by special projects and the hard work and dedication of its members to survive. During the depression in the 1930s it was this extra effort which kept the church from failing.

In the early years this was accomplished primarily by the women of the church through their Helping Hand Society, the forerunner of the present Women's Fellowship. The Men's Club was formed in 1911 and began to assist in this endeavor. Today the church has a hard-working congregation who raise money through the all-church fair, rummage sales, dinners, luncheons and breakfasts served to various groups, wedding and anniversary receptions, and funeral meals.

The church has been active through the years in supporting the spiritual life of its members. The early church did this through close supervision of its members to insure fastidious attention to the Articles of Faith and Covenant. Today, the spiritual needs of the congregation are met through the encouragement of spiritual growth and knowledge by way of the many programs of education, devotion and fellowship.

The church not only serves its members, but opens its doors to the community at large. Over the years the building has been used by the Red Cross during the two World Wars, the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, the Red Cross Blood Bank, the Interchurch Counseling Service, Big Brothers, and the Youth Living Centers.

The Cross in the present sanctuary was made from oak beams taken from the bell tower in the first church built on this site. It should remind us of our rich heritage and challenge us to a future of Christian love and service.

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