This first section is a reprint of an article written in 1946, by Henry E. Hill, a member of the church. We were informed that in 2006 one of his descendant’s donated a chest of documents to the Killingly Historical Society which included the plans and architectural drawings of the Church building erected in 1835. We hope you enjoy it and the rest of our on-going journey.
History of the Baptist Churches in E. Killingly, Connecticut
by Henry E. Hill
As Printed in the Windham County Transcript, Danielson, CT
Thursday, October 3, 1946
“Among the first items of interest dealing with local Baptist History are letters of dismission and recommendation from our neighboring Baptist church in Glocester, RI. No doubt some had moved from there to become residents of Killingly while others who believed in Christ were convinced of their need to be baptized according to primitive practice, disregarded parish and stateliness and untied with the already established in Gloucester. These were numerous as appears by the many church letters copied in the old church records. The earliest record is dated in Killingly, May 22nd 1776. An exact copy will now be given in so far as it has been possible to do so for the few pages from the original book have been ravaged by the hand of time as well as careless human hands.”
Killingly, May 22nd 1776.
“Agreeable to a request from a number of baptized believers meeting in this place for the public worship, who are desirous of uniting in a visible Church state in this place for public worship. A number of above said brethren being members of the perspective Churches, to which they belong by Letter, request those Churches to assist them by the sending of messengers, on 1st day, those assembled, from the Church in Glocester, Elder John Winsor, Andrew Brown, Jonathan Eddy, Rounds, Samuel Angel; — from the Church at Providence, Elder James Manning, Deacon Ephraim Wheator, John Jenks; –from the Church in Attleborough, Elder Job Seamans;– from the Church in Thompson, Deacon James Dike, Ebenezer Green.
First, that there is but one God, possessed of ever possible virtue and that He exists in three persons of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, the same in essence equal in Power and Glory, but distinguished according to their respective offices.
2. That created all things by the Word of His Power, He possess and governs the world in Infinite Wisdom, Justice and Goodness; and that His knowledge is infinite & His Council eternal & immutable, yet He is in no sense that author of sin, neither does His Knowledge or Power give the least toleration to Sin-
3. That God made man in His own image, that is in holiness, happiness & purity; but that man being in honor abode not but he lost communion with God, so that by Sin we are all the Children of Wrath and justly exposed to the punishment of Hell.
4. That of His mere Mercy, through the Amazing Love wherewith He loved us, while we were dead in Trespass and Sin, did, according to the Covenant that was between the Father and the Son in eternity, gave His only begotten Son of His bosom, to be born of a virgin, to take on our nature, and in that nature sin accepted into union with the Divine Nature, and in that Nature to obey completely God’s Holy Law; die the excepted Death of the Cross to justify it’s penalty, to rise again from the dead on the 3rd day, for our justification, and ascend into heaven as the intercessor of all His people; and that as Mediator between God and man, He is the Head and Lawgiver of the Church, the Author of every Spiritual Gift; Governor of the whole world, and the Judge of the quick and the dead.
5. That in order to be interested in Him, we must be convinced by the Holy Spirit that we are totally depraved, helpless, and justly condemned to Hell as transgressors; and that by obedience and suffering, preparation and ascension of Jesus Christ, completely satisfaction is made for sin: So that all that believe in Jesus shall be completely justified by His righteousness imputed, and satisfied by grace imparted so as to hate sin , and love the holy law of God, and that this faith is wrought in the heart by Ye Power of God’s Spirit, called in scripture being born again.
6. That the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the Blood of God, and only rule of Faith and Practice; and that the New Testament only presents what shall be the materials, Order and Discipline of the Church of Christ, which consists of a number of believers of Jesus Christ, according to what is specified above, who have been Baptized by immersion in water, in the name of the Holy Trinity; and do covenant to walk together in unity, and maintain the ordinance of the New Testament so far as God shall enable them.
7. That the Church should be duly organized with an Elder and Deacon and that they must statedly and occasionally meet on the first day of the week for Social and Divine Worship, and they shall agree and observe their Ordinance of the Lord’s Supper and the secular concerns of the Church be attended to by all members at such times and places as they shall appoint.
8. That it is the duty of the Church to minister to the temporal support of the Elder, that He may give himself to his ministry.
9. That the Imposition of non imposition of hand on the members shall make no Barr of Communion but that each one shall enjoy their own conscience, without offence to the Brethren.
10. That every member shall keep their own places, and discharge their several duties belonging to their several relations to the Church, and in case of neglect that they be dealt with according to the Rules of Christ laid down in the New Testament.
11. That the gifts of the supportive members of the Church belong to and are in their improvement to be directed”.
“Being happily agreed in the above articles and being desirous of giving ourselves unto the Lord and to each other by the Will of the Lord, we do mutually Covenant and Agree to unite together as a Church and engage through Grace to discharge the several duties incumbent in witness whereof we have severally subscribed our names.”
“Whether these articles were agreed upon before the delegates assembled, or were drafted and accepted at that time, there is no record to enlighten us. The articles and covenant are similar to those adopted by Baptists at the period. 59 names, 32 men and 27 women. There is no record but it might be presumed that these Christians adjourned without the ministerial delegates having given them fellowship as a church. The association was called a ‘meeting‘ and no clerk was chosen it can be presumed that they considered themselves as a meeting of brethren from neighboring churches for the purpose of advising the brethren, in Killingly, concerning the formation of a church.”
“Several pages of records are covered with copies of letters from Glocester and other churches dismissing and recommending members to the newly formed church in Killingly. The letters and dates are all dated 1776. It would seem that the Brethren acted upon correct principles in considering themselves as a church by their own act and vote.”
“A council was later called for the purpose of gathering fellowship with sister churches, and the council did not consider that the brethren did not act prematurely or without proper authority. Brethren could properly call a Pastor, administer Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper without danger of being called to account by any other church as there is no law of God or of man to forbid them to do so.”
“Baptists do not claim the ‘Regular Succession‘. However no such body could properly claim fellowship with another church until it had been extended by a regular council. The next important record date is July 26th 1776 and reads:
The church met, Deacon Robert Baxter was chosen moderator. A motion was made to give George Robinson a call to settle among them as pastor; which, was responded by a unanimous vote; and the call extended”.
Brother Robinson desiring time to consider the subject, the meeting was adjourned to October 18th. At the October meeting the call was renewed and accepted. A committee was appointed to purchase a ministerial lot or a parsonage. The size of the lot, sum to be paid or manner of raising the money, were not recorded. Sunday, October 20th was set apart for the ordination of Brother Robinson who was a member of a church in Attleboro Mass., and had been given permission by that church to preach. The formal council met on November 12th 1776 with delegates from Middleboro, Woodstock, Thompson and Glocester. Elder Backus was moderator and Elder Thompson clerk.”
“According to the record they proceeded to inquire into the constitution and articles of the church, ‘which we found to be consistent with the rules of the Gospel, that we gave them fellowship as a sister church’.”
“The council then gave Brother Robinson opportunity to relate his call ‘out nature into grace’. This being found satisfactory the council heartedly agreed to answer the request of the church to ordain Brother Robinson and, on Wednesday, Nov. 13th 1776 the Elders met and separated Brother Robinson to the work where unto the Lord had called him, by the laying on of hands and prayer.”
“On Sunday, January 5th 1776, Brother Robinson administered the Lord’s Supper for the first time, the record reads, ‘A good day it was’. The records go on mention two other society meetings. The use of the word ‘society‘ was probably to be in agreement with state statute. The order and regularity found in the beginning of the church, the call of the Elder Robinson and the purchase of a parsonage and the keeping up of public worship indicate that a good foundation was laid.”
“There is scant record of how the church prospered under Elder Robinson’s care. A letter spread upon the church records dated Feb. 25th, 1785 shows that he was dismissed to unite with the church in Attleboro, and that he was ‘recommended as a member in good standing, whose moral and Christian character is good, both as a preacher of the Gospel and as a member‘. Reports were circulated that that he sold the parsonage and pocketed the money but it does not seem that the above recommendation would have been given him while such charges were pending.”
“Following Elder Robinson’s labors the church remained dormant for several years. During that time a man by the name Campbell came to town and labored for some time. His preaching seems to have been effective for numbers professing conversion and he baptized them. When Mr. Campbell went away he seems to have taken some of his followers who it appears joined him rather than the church. Elder Miffit carried on the work for a few months and fellowship within the church and the association were restored.”
“A meeting was called on June 24th 1790 and Elder Martin of Thompson invited to see ‘if they could regain the old fellowship’. It appears that the first meeting house was build previous to this time and the gathering was held in the ‘meeting house’. This building was located about 1 mile north of the present site and was on the easterly side of North Road. Not far from the Gould place.”
“During 1786-7 Elders Lamb and John Cooper preached for the society. The people agreed on their part to pay him ₤5 annually and to remove his family and goods without charge, probably from Waterford or new London, CT, although the place is not named. There is no clear record of Elder Rogers except that the church insisted that there be public confession of members who had been found guilty of immorality. Some dissented but the church adhered to its rule and insisted upon compliance. Some members were excluded for having separate meetings, however the church voted letters to the latter ‘dis-claiming any intention of admonishing them as brethren and exhorting them to return to duty’.'”
“In 1799 the church resolved that ‘no person except members in good standing be permitted to attend church meetings for business or discipline without special permission’ . In 1800 Elder Rogers agreed to accept ₤10 annually and the members were to be assessed nine pence each for the support of the communion table.”
“During 1802 mention is made that meetings were held in private houses which meant the meeting house mentioned earlier was never really finished or that it may have fallen into a dilapidated condition rendering it unfit for use in winter for stoves were not then used in meeting houses. On March 5th 1805 fifteen men and women met at the home of Levi Aldrich ‘to consider their scattered and broken condition’.”
“Elder Calvin Cooper a member of the 2nd Baptist Church in Sutton MA. Was called September 25th 1805 and remained for over 20 years. A record dated October 12th 1812 noted that ‘the church considers it an offense, demanding discipline for a member to be absent from worship and communion’. Elder Cooper’s pastorate was the longest enjoyed by the church and was very prosperous.”
“An intensive revival occurred in 1821 when about 90 were added to the church during the autumn season. Upon on occasion a ‘lady preacher’ from Vermont was engaged to supply Elder Cooper during an illness. That ‘lady preachers’ were not held in too high regard was evidenced the by the fact that Elder Cooper referred to this one as a ‘grievous wolf who had entered the fold during his absence’ . The Elder was an ardent Phrenologist and continued to live in the community and be an active member of the church until his death.”
“Elder Albert Cole of Plainfield, CT was called to preach August 22nd, 1830. An Item dated September 23rd 1831 concerns a brother who was visited by a committee to whom he gave his reasons for non-attendance at worship as ‘lack of suitable apparel’. On report of the committee the church came to the conclusion that ‘if such were the case, it must proceed from slothfulness’. Elder Jonathan Oakley became pastor in May 1834 and served for 1 year coming from Exeter, RI. He gave place to Elder Erastus Doty of Colebrook, Litchfield, CT.”
“Growth of the Church necessitated a new meeting house. This ‘House for Public Worship’ was to be located opposite the dwelling of Ruben Bartlett in the East Society, south of the turnpike, and west of the Village road. Every subscriber was to have a vote for every $120 subscribed. Twenty seven persons agreed to give a total of $1,505.00 for a building to be 46 feet long by 36 feet wide. As sometimes happen it was not possible to collect the total, amount pledged from some, hence the note against names ‘run away‘, one owing $6.00 and the other $5.17.”
“An addition of fifteen feet was built in 1846 making the meeting house as we know it today (1946). In 1836 a sister who had been under discipline asked for a letter of dismission which was not granted until the brethren could learn that she had totally abstained from intoxicating liquors and could speak favorably of the temperance cause. Another note states that an investigation revealed that ‘like the sow she returned to her wallow’.”
“Rev. Nicholas Branch followed Elder Doty and labored for several years with this and neighboring churches. The cost of the church, addition, basement and bell came to approximately $3,000. The basement was built at the expense of a very few individuals. Rev. James Smither was chosen pastor about April 1841 and was succeeded by Rev. Tubal Wakefield and L.W. Wheeler who remained three years. In 1851 Rev Henry Bromley was engaged for a year but after eight months he resigned to take over an agency for the Connecticut Literary Institution. Rev. Ebenezer Loomis supplied until 1855. The many exclusions during the last few years resulted in much ill feeling and worked hardship upon the church. Up to the above time or another 126 dismissed, 143 dropped, 82 excluded and 193 had been lost by death. The church at one time was affiliated with Sturbridge Association. The original name Killingly Baptist Church was changed to East Killingly Baptist Church on May 22, 1853.”