On August 22, 1639, The First Church of Christ in Milford, now the First United Church of Christ (Congregational) was organized in New Haven by The Reverend Peter Prudden and a company of fifteen families.
They arrived in Boston on July 31, 1637, from England. A year later they sailed to what is now New Haven and held their first religious service under an oak tree on Sunday, April 25, 1638, with the founding settlers of that community.
Desiring a church and a colony of their own, they purchased land for this purpose on February 12, 1639, but they made no attempt to settle the land that winter. Their church was organized before moving to Wepawaug, which is now Milford.
Originally, the government of the town was a Theocracy - a small republic independent of all outside authority. God was their only King and the Bible their only law book. Only Church members were permitted the right to vote and hold office.
When Milford, as part of the New Haven Colony, merged with Connecticut Colony in 1665, the law was changed and ownership of property became the basis of citizenship in place of church membership.
Second Meetinghouse (circa 1727)
The early pastors of the Milford Church were well educated, numbering among them graduates of Cambridge, England; Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Amherst, Dartmouth, and Oberlin.
In 1741, following the great revival of Edwards and Whitefield, and a religious and political controversy of the "Old Lights" and the "New Lights," a division in the membership of the Milford Church arose, as a result of which the Second Church, or Plymouth Church, was founded. The first pastor of the new church was Job Prudden, great grandson of Peter Prudden, founder and first pastor of the First Church.
Left: Third (Present) Meetinghouse - Right: Plymouth Church (circa 1823)
They built Second Church (Plymouth Church) across the river on the location of our present Plymouth Building. This church continued for a period of 185 years of active and honorable religious service to the community. By that time the causes of the original division had been forgotten.
In 1926, under the leadership of the Reverend Charles Atkins of The Plymouth Church, the animosities of the past were buried, yielding to spiritual, emotional, and financial necessity, and the two churches became one again. The name of the one new church became The Church of Christ, Congregational.
On January 25, 1961, the church membership ratified the constitution and accepted membership in the newly-formed denomination, The United Church of Christ. At that time our name was changed to its present name: The First United Church of Christ (Congregational).