A Brief History
As the oldest Church in Hamden, Connecticut, Mount Carmel Congregational Church has always been a cornerstone of the community. More than just a building, our Church's presence has manifested itself throughout the town of Hamden and beyond, evolving over time to suit the needs of the people. From a simple Meeting House to a colonial-style Church, we have always kept the principles of our faith at the forefront of our mission, seeking to spread the love of Christ to all through both words and actions. Now, more than ever, it is important to look back to our origin, not only to see how far we have come, but also to see how far we have yet to go. Take a minute and join us as we take a brief look into our past.
In 1735, a man by the name of Joel Munson built a mill on what is now called the Mill River, located at the base of the Sleeping Giant. Little did he know that this would lay the seeds for the creation of a small, yet enthusiastic community in the fertile countryside of what would soon become Hamden. Previously, the settlers in New Haven would only come to this area to garden, pasture their cows and sheep, and pass through to other towns such as North Haven and Cheshire. However, now that there was a mill, there was finally reason to build homes outside of the original booming nine squares of New Haven.
As church attendance was a mandatory element of citizenship in the opening years of the 18th century, the faithful who moved to Mount Carmel needed a place to attend worship. Many headed South each week to worship in the New Haven Colony while others, finding it easier to cross the hills than to travel to the city, journeyed to North Haven and Cheshire to attend services. However, neither of these were ideal journeys to take on a regular basis; instead, people needed a local place where they could worship. And so, in 1757, a group of 46 people came together at Bellamy's Tavern on the road to Cheshire to draw together a petition for the establishment of a parish in Mt. Carmel.
In 1758, the application was approved, and an Ecclesiastical Society was established, giving them the authority to freely worship and create a Meeting House in the area. Soon thereafter a covenant was drawn up which every person who joined the membership was required to endorse. A covenant is a written agreement among the members to assist one another in striving to serve God, both as individuals and as members of a community of faith. This was the first step in a long journey for the people of Mount Carmel.
Pillar of the Colonial Community
In 1761, the first Meeting House was completed, and quickly became the center of the community as, in 1764, 45 people met to create the first parish in what was to become the Town of Hamden (later incorporated in 1786). Many meetings were held in the Meeting House pertaining to Town affairs and development. Even the militia met there. Many changes have taken place.
Since petitioning for a parish in 1757, our church has grown in so many ways. Over the years, we have had two church buildings serve as our home; the first was destroyed by fire and the second one we continue to enjoy. This latter church was built in 1840 and is on the National Registry of Historic Landmarks. The Rev. Nathaniel Sherman, brother to Roger Sherman, served as one of our first settled pastors.
Three Acres of land to our south was purchased from the Morton Family in 1972 for expanding parking area. When the Town straightened Sherman Avenue in 1976, it gave the Church the old roadbed right-of-way. We now have a lawn and do not have to cross a highway to get to the parish house from the Church.
Our Church Today!
As members of this ancient community of faith, we attempt to live by the principles of Biblical faith, understanding that the interpretation of that faith is inspired within each of us by the voice of God in our lives.
We gather for worship every Sunday morning at 10:00am, for mid-week Taizé prayers during Advent and Lent; we come together regularly to celebrate the Sacraments, to Confirm those who have been instructed in membership, to join lives through the Rite of Marriage, and to celebrate the lives of those who have entered the gates of larger life. We are a community church in so many ways, as our doors are always open to those in need.
If you are looking for a family, this is the church for you! We look forward to speaking with you about how you can be a part of our community. Ask us about our Bible Study group, our Bell Choir and other music opportunities, our Outreach programs with Columbus House and the Midnight Run, our budding Faith Formation/Christian Education curriculum, or anything else you may be seeking on your journey. As you shall soon discover...truly, there is a place here for you!