History & Tradition
On May 13, 1731, the colonial legislature of Connecticut, acting on a petition from the settlers of what is now New Canaan, authorized the formation of Canaan Parish. Two years later, on June 20, 1733, the New Canaan Congregational Church was formed. Twenty-four residents of Canaan Parish who were members of congregational churches in Norwalk and Stamford transferred their memberships to the new church. These twenty-four founding members entered into a covenant that had been articulated 113 years previously by Governor John Winthrop as he and the early Puritan settlers sailed toward America. He stated:
Thus stands the cause between God and us, we are entered into covenant with Him for this work, we have taken out a Commission. Now the only way to avoid shipwreck and to provide for our posterity is to follow the Counsel of Micah, to do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God. For this end, we must be knit together in his work as one man, we must entertain each in brotherly affection, we must be willing to abridge ourselves of our superfluities, for the good of others.
From Governor Winthrop’s vision stems the covenant into which we enter today as members of The Congregational Church of New Canaan. Our church covenant states:
“We covenant with the Lord and with one another, and do bind ourselves in the presence of God to walk together in all His ways, according as He is pleased to reveal himself to us in His Blessed word of truth.”
Our beautiful Meeting House is actually our third church building. The original Meeting House stood at the intersection of what is now Park Street and St. John’s Place. A larger Meeting House was built in our current location in 1752, but it was struck by lightning and destroyed by the resulting fire in 1840. The wooden pulpit survived the fire and is still used in the Meeting House today. The third Meeting House was built in 1843. The Chapel, Parlor, and Church School wing was dedicated in 1953. In 1960, our church became affiliated with the United Church of Christ, the denomination which united the Congregational and the Evangelical and Reformed Churches into one body.