Our Church History
Our Church’s History
Woodmont United Church of Christ was founded on May 5, 1885. Back then it was called Woodmont Ecclesiastical Society. This group of 15 wanted a place to worship that was closer to their summer homes along the shore and surrounding vegetable and dairy farms. Normally it took them a good hour by horse and carriage to get to Milford Center for worship. The prominent Treat and Bryan families donated land at the corner of the now Chapel Street and Merwin Avenue to build a church. Construction was completed in 1887.
Though finances spiraled down to 32 cents in 1894, the church remained afloat. Members even managed to add a kitchen, dining room, and enlarge the audience room. A choir was started in 1908, and a pipe organ was installed in 1913.
Summer-only services were conducted by pastors from neighboring churches until 1924 when the first permanent pastor, Mr. Myron Fowell, was called. In 1929, the Society became Congregationalist and the church was named Woodmont Union Chapel, Inc. Records indicate purchase of a parsonage in 1930, and activity of a church school five years later. The first full-time pastor, The Reverend Edward Grabert, was called in 1949.
In 1961 under the pastorate of The Reverend Robert Young, Woodmont Union Chapel, Inc. became a member of the United Church of Christ. Meanwhile, the surrounding community, congregation, and Church School began to grow. Classes had to be offered on Saturday and Sunday to meet the demand. A decision was made to sell the parsonage and purchase new property. That property, originally an apple orchard, is the location of the current church. The purchase price was $10,000. The dedication was held on October 25, 1964.
In 1968, a platform constructed to hold the bell from the former building was placed at the front of the property facing New Haven Avenue. March of the following year, the church changed its name to Woodmont United Church of Christ, Congregational. These events occurred under the leadership of The Reverend Reginald Avery 1968 – 1972. Various improvements and additions such as the installation of pews, Prayer Garden, and stained glass windows occurred throughout the ‘70s, ‘80s, and 1990.
Woodmont United Church of Christ (WUCC) called its first female pastor, the Reverend Paige Besse-Rankin, in 1995. Under her leadership, the 1999 Milford Anti-Hate Task Force was established to help encourage tolerance in the community. In 2005 WUCC became an Open and Affirming congregation, extending God’s unconditional love, acceptance, and welcome to all. When local synagogue Congregation Sinai needed space for worship in 2007, they were invited to share the church.
In 2010 WUCC celebrated its 125 year. The Heritage Sunday celebration included the dedication of a Memorial Garden and installation of a plaque on the bell platform to honor members who had passed on.
Woodmont United Church of Christ is a missioned-based church at heart. Throughout its existence, it has and continues to support many missions such as the 1983 co-creation of the Combined Parishes Action Committee (CPAC) now Beth-El Center, Inc. to provide shelter, clothing, food, and furnishings to those in need; beginning in the 2000’s, involvement in the Department of Children and Families’ Covenant to Care for Children: Adopt a Social Worker program, which fulfills requests for the needs of children on the adopted social worker’s caseload; the 2008 Holy Joe’s Café Coffee House event to support our troops; supporting a member’s contribution to the “Combatants for Peace” accord between Israelis and Palestinians, and since 2012 Youth Group trips to South Dakota under the Simply Smiles banner to work with the Lakota Native American people.