Summit County, Ohio
First Congregation Church
In the earlier years of its existence, the few Presbyterians and Congregationalists of the new village of Akron, used to meet from week to week for conference, prayer and praise at private residences, school houses, etc. In 1834 a Congregational church, amenable to Presbytery, was organized by Rev. John Pettit, and in 1835 a small house of worship, a cut of which is here given, was erected on the present Court House grounds, but, on the location of the Court House at that point, in 1840, was removed to the corner of Quarry and High streets, and, after doing service for several churches, as elsewhere detailed until 1877, was removed to the rear of the present German Lutheran Church and used for the parochial school of that Society until 1889, when it was torn down to make room for the nice brick house now standing there.
The pulpit was supplied by Mr. Pettit, members of Western Reserve College and others, until 1836, when Rev. James B. Walker, a theological graduate from the college named, was called to the pastorate, erecting for himself a dwelling house in the woods, which house for many years was owned and occupied by Richard S., Elkins, Esq., late of Ravenna, and is still standing immediately north of the Windsor Hotel. In 1839, Mr. Walker resigned and was succeeded by Rev. James D. Pickands, who unfortunately, embraced and preached the Second Advent doctrines which so greatly agitated the religious world from 1840 to 1846, as fully detailed in another chapter.
In consequence of these heresies, 22 members withdrew from the church in the Spring of 1842, and on the 2nd day of January, 1843, were formally organized, by a council convened for that purpose, consisting of Rev. Seagrove Magill, of Tallmadge, Rev. Joseph Merriam, of Randolph, Rev. Mason Grosvenor, of Hudson, and Rev. William Clark, of Cuyahoga Falls, under the title of the "Second Congregational Church of Akron."
July 3, 1843, nine others from the old, joined the new church, and the 31 members proceeded to organize by the appointment of Mr. Harvey B. Spelman, as Deacon, and Mr. Allen Hibbard, as Clerk.
Meantime, the embryo society, holding regular services in what was then known as the "Court Room," in the third story of the large stone block on the southeast corner of Howard and Market streets, had been ministered to by a young eastern theologian by the name of Isaac Jennings, who was ordained as the first pastor of the new church, on the 14th day of June, 1843. Measures were soon afterwards taken for the erection of a church edifice, which was accordingly built at the corner of North Main and Tallmadge streets, at a cost of $1,800, which was dedicated in June, 1845. [This building in more recent years was purchased by Mr. George Wulle, and used as a livery stable until destroyed by fire in 1887.]
The pastorate of Mr. Jennings ceased in February, 1847, by resignation, being followed by Rev. W. R. Stevens, as stated supply, from November, 1847, until May, 1849, when Rev. Nathaniel P. Bailey, now of Massillon, assumed the pastorate, being ordained October 7, 1849. Mr. Bailey served until May 3, 1856, and was followed by Rev. A. Duncasson, from February, 1857, to November, 1858; Rev. Abraham E. Baldwin, from 1858 to 1861 ordained in February, 1860; Rev. Carlos Smith, December 30, 1861, till the Winter of 1873; Rev. Thomas E. Monroe 1873 to the present time.
By reason of the Second Advent delusions, the original First Congregational Church had gone to pieces, and its house of worship sold to the Disciples, so that the Second naturally became the first, by which title it is now known.
At the beginning of Mr. Smith's pastorate there was a membership of about 60, at its close 268, during which time a new house, of worship, a fine brick structure, on High street, had been erected at a cost of some $40,000.
Soon after Mr. Monroe's accession, a gallery was added to the seating capacity of the auditorium, and additional Sunday School facilities provided in the basement, at a cost of $5,000. The house being partially destroyed by fire, on February 2, 1881, additions and repairs were made to the extent of about $10,000, with a large new organ, there being a fine-toned bell in the tower, and a first-class clock, donated by one of Akron's best-known business men for nearly half a century, Mr. Joseph E. Wesener.
The church has now nearly 1,000 sittings, a roll of 903 members, 746 of whom are residing here at this time, besides having recently transferred 65 members, and a corresponding number from the Sunday School, to the West Congregational Church, spoken of elsewhere. Members of Sunday School, officers, teachers and scholars in 1887, before division, 600; after division, 510; now, 1891, 572.
["Fifty Years and over of Akron and Summit Co.", 1892 - CD- Sub by FoFG]
See Biographies: Rev. Carlos Smith, D.D. and Rev. Thomas E. Monroe
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