Norwich Congregational Church


A Brief History of the Church

The Paul Revere bell, presented to the church in 1817 by Thomas Emerson, is one of six Revere bells remaining in Vermont. This bell has called people to worship and has struck the hours for nearly 200 years.
A drawing of the church when it was situated on the common, in front of the North and South Barracks of Norwich University (where the Marion Cross Elementary School now stands). The University is now situated at Northfield, Vermont. The church moved to its present site in 1852.
"Peaceful Night
(Church at Norwich, Vermont)"
Maxfield Parrish, 1950

June 1770: The First Church of Christ in Norwich, Vermont was gathered and organized by the Reverend Peter Powers. He served several parishes along the Connecticut River and traveled to them by canoe. He was a revolutionary with a price on his head who later moved to Deer Isle, Maine.


August 1775: The Reverend Lyman Potter was ordained and settled in as the first minister.  The first meeting house was located about one mile north of the present town center.


1817: A new church was built on the green facing west. The Paul Revere bell was hung in the belfry; it is the earliest in Vermont and the only one cast during Revere's lifetime. The steeple clock, made by Stephen Hasham, was crafted about this time. Hasham was a well-known clockmaker from Charlestown, NH.  At first, this congregation was called “The South Church in Norwich,” or, informally, “the church on the plain.”


1852: The church was moved to its present location and enlarged. In the old location, Norwich University students would ring the church bells at all hours of the day or night by tying a rope to the clapper from the fourth floor barracks window.


1853: The North Church Meeting House was closed and most of its members joined “the church on the plain.”


1891: Members voted to incorporate with the State of Vermont as The Congregational Church of Norwich.


1909: Under the leadership of a student pastor, William C.H. Moe, our local church covenant was revised to its present wording.


1949: The first Norwich Fair was held to begin raising money for the Parish Hall addition, which was built the following year.


1957: The Congregationalist and Christian Churches agreed to join with the Evangelical and Reformed Church to form a union, to be known as the United Church of Christ. The Norwich church approved this union in 1961.


May 1998: Mary Brownlow was called as the Associate Pastor of the church.


December 2001: Douglas S. Moore became the Pastor of the church.


On May 1, 2005 a Congregational Meeting passed the following resolution: We, the members of the Norwich Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, declare ourselves to be an open and affirming congregation.


On May 1, 2005 a Capital Campaign was begun to pay for the construction of an improved Parish Hall, Church Offices and Sunday School classrooms, and an elevator which were completed in 2007.


January 2009: Doug Moore retired and went on to interim ministry in New Orleans.  Later that year, a decision was made to return to a single minister model for the pastoral leadership of the church. Mary Brownlow concluded her ministry as Associate Pastor on January 31, 2010.


On May 23, 2010 the congregation voted to call the Rev. Mary Brownlow as pastor. She began as pastor on June 15, 2010.