1785 Town of Gardner
land was given to descendants of participants in “King Philip’s War”. It was
required by state law to have a meetinghouse with a pulpit and a minister paid
by town taxes.
1786 Eight months after
town of Gardner was incorporated, The First Congregational Church was founded
during the third town
1787 The first
meeting-house was begun. The building served as a dual function; as a place of
public worship and as a town hall.
1791 The first minister was
called, The Reverend Jonathan Osgood. He also was Dr. Osgood, town physician.
During his tenure the
parsonage was built, which still stands on Elm Street.
1822 Rev. Osgood died;
having served the church and town faithfully for 31 years. His grave is in the
cemetery behind the present church building.
1827 The Town of Gardner stops paying the minister’s salary and the parish
and town formally separate.
1830 Rev. Increase Lincoln, leaves to form the Evangelical Congregational
Church. He is involved in temperance and abolitionist movements.
1864 - 1868
William D. Herrick is minister. The Evangelical and Congregational Church
1874 - 1868
William D. Herrick is minister again. Rev. Herrick wrote a History of Gardner.
1878 The present sanctuary
and tower were built
as Victorian gothic for $30,000.
1880’s The Young Ladies Society of the church established the first night
school for immigrants. The program was taken over by the town and grew to as
many as 350 students.
1883 - 1891
Lawrence Phelps is minister. He also served as the first President of the Levi
Heywood Library (1886).
1891 Under the ministry of
the Rev. Frank E. Ramsdell, (1891-1896), the vestries, parlor, kitchen, and
dining room were added. Organ is donated
by Mrs. Henry Heywood.
1897 - 1920
Burton S. Gilman served as minister.
1923 Gardner became a city.
1929 – 1949
Baldwin W. Callahan served as minister. Under his leadership the Women’s
Association, the Men’s Club, the Married Couples Group, the Evening Guild, and
the Young People’s Society were formed.
1940 - 1945
The First Congregational Church had seven (7) Gold Star Mothers (their sons were
killed in the War) and 119 members who served in the military.
1956 - 1962
Rev. Daniel Leavitt served as minister. The Tower Times was started. The church
joined the United Church of Christ.
1958 The kitchen was relocated to the first floor, all
classrooms were centralized on the second floor, and rest room facilities for
men and women were put on both floors.
Edward A. Berry served as pastor.
1967 Worcester North
Association, of which this church was a member, dissolved.
1968 Church joined the
Middlesex Union Association.
1970 Middlesex Union
Association was eliminated.
1970 The church became a
member of the Central Association of the Massachusetts Conference of the UCC.
1972 - 1987
John Condon served as minister.
1972 With Rev. Berry as
minister, the church membership voted to withdraw from the UCC.
1977 With Rev. Condon as
minister, the church membership voted to again affiliate with the UCC.
1986 The church celebrated
its bicentennial year.
1992 - 2001
The Rev. Charles B. Mansfield served as the church's minister.
1994 Serious renovations to
the church began. Over the next several years, the steeple, roof, stained glass
windows, and Rose Window would be repaired.
1998 The Gardner Historical
Society undertook the restoration of the Old Cemetery behind the church. This
included repairing the table stone on the grave of the Rev. J. Osgood.
1999 The church joined in
the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the United Church of Christ. The
first Congregational Church of Gardner predates the UCC by 13 years.
2001 - 2003
Rev. Virginia Evans served as interim minister.
2003 - 2006
Rev. Janet V. Skagerlind served as minister.
2007-2010 Rev. Duke Gray served as interim minister.
Renovations on the kitchen, a new church sign installed, driveway
repaved, and new pew cushions.
2010-2015 Rev. Frank McKenzie served as minister.
2016 Rev. Andrew Burr is serving as interim minister.