FCB UU Rainbow Chalice

First Church in Barre, Universalist


A Chronological History

1796 The church was founded. In that year thirty votes were cast for the Governor of the state of Vermont, seventeen of those votes from members of the First Parish of Barre!

1808 Paul Dean became the minister and later succeeded John Murray, the "Father of Universalism," at the First Church in Boston. Later, Dean became an important figure in the "Restorationist Controversy."

1831 The General Convention of Universalist Churches met at the Barre Church, the last time it would meet in Vermont.

1843 Rufus Sanborn was the minister. He was associated with another famous Universalist figure, Eli Ballou of Montpelier, in the publication of "Watchman and Repository,"

1848 Joseph Sargent became the minister. He saw the population moving towards Barre and advised changing the church location to the present site. He was a chaplain of a Vermont regiment in the Civil War and died during the war at Alexandria, Virginia.

1851-52 The present lot was purchased at a cost of $850 and the Church was built on it at a cost of $4,400. There were only four avowed Universalist families in what is now Barre City with the rest living on the surrounding hills and in South Barre. The church was free of debt when the building was dedicated and occupied!

1857 Franklin S. Bliss was the minister. Joseph Sargent said in the installation charge: "Brother Bliss, I have built this visible temple; now you must go on to build the invisible spiritual temple. Organize the church, start the conference and prayer meeting, look after the children, get them to Sunday School. This is your special work, as building the church was mine."

1876 Rededication of the renovated church. Church parlors were built in the basement, the Chancel window placed in memory of Joseph Sargent, central steeple replaced by two steeples, and the choir and organ gallery moved from the rear of the sanctuary to the front, and a new organ dedicated. This resulted in changing the overall architecture of the building from a pure colonial to the present architecture.

1889 The envelope system was first used for collection of necessary funds.

1892 The problem of "pew ownership" was raised. Visitors to services must rent pews from owners. There was a popular feeling that this money should go instead to the parish.

1892 Church bell broken while being used for fire alarm. A new bell purchased.

1893 The Paine Estate on North Main Street was willed to the church. The home was moved to its present site behind the church to serve as a parsonage. Land was leased for building of the Miles Block.

1894 Rev. and Mrs. Byron W. Jones became pastors. They were the first and only couple to serve as ministers and she was the first female minister.

1894 The horse sheds were razed and the last one burned in the City Park.

1896 Centennial observed in connection with the State Convention. Charter on Incorporation granted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont.

1898 Charter on Incorporation granted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont.

1904 Memorial windows at the side of the sanctuary installed. Goldsbury Plaque (on railing in front of Sanctuary), in memory of the founders of the parish was dedicated.

19_ Goldsbury Plaque (on the railing in front of the Sanctuary) in memory of the founders of the parish was dedicated.

1933 "Antiphonal Readings for Free Worship" edited by 1. Griswold Williams. Published by The Murray Press and sold throughout the denomination.

1937 "Hymns of the Spirit" published for use in Universalist and Unitarian Churches. 1. Griswold Williams, chairman of Universalist Commission on Hymns and Services.

1944 Miss Carrie Wheelock, great-granddaughter of John Goldsbury, died. Last active and direct descendant of founders of the First Parish. Wheelock-Goldsbury Fund established which is still a source of funding for our church.

1945 Pirie Memorial Plaque dedicated in memory of contributors to the endowment funds of the First Parish.

1946 New Chancel arrangement. New pulpit and communion table. Sanctuary completely redecorated. Rededication at SesquiCentennial Services.

1946 700 people are in church to celebrate the sesquicentennial; 300 at the morning service, 225 for the banquet, and 200 for the evening service of rededication.

1947 Wheelock estate settled for $71,000.

1950 Estey-built organ installed to replace 75 year old organ.

1951 New heating plant installed in parsonage with steam pipes to church. Kitchen refurbished.

1955 Parsonage purchased at 25 Orange Street. The old Parsonage behind the church was converted to a Parish House for church offices, Sunday School classes and meeting rooms. Wall-to-wall carpeting laid in the Sanctuary and a bronze plaque in memory of Rev. Farwell was installed to match the one dedicated earlier in memory of the Goldsburys and other early founders.

1967 Wall-to wall carpeting laid in the sanctuary and a bronze plaque in memory of Rev. Farwell was installed to match the one dedicated earlier I memory of the Goldburys and other early founders.

1968 Aluminum siding installed on church and outside lighting installed.

1969 Church worship and Sunday school combined for first time at 10:00 AM so parents only had to make one trip to church. Increase in Sunday school attendance as a result.

1969 Coffee hour initiated after church the first Sunday of each month. Miles Block land sold for $49,000.

1980 Sponsored the resettlement of a Laotian family who were refugees. Many church members gave untiringly of themselves to help the family adapt to life in Barre.

1981 The Berkshire-built Thurman W. Dix Memorial Organ was installed at a cost of $52,000. It used the chimes and many parts from the former Dorothy Mackay Ladd Memorial Organ and the Zoe T. Carver Chimes.

1984 Handicapped "easy access" added to the church including a ramp and the Allen-Taplin elevator at a cost of $49,000.

1982 Church, Parish House and Parsonage were insulated, a drop ceiling installed in the Vestry, controlled thermostats installed, ceiling fans installed in the Sanctuary, Plexiglas installed over the windows. These were all done to save energy costs due to rising fuel oil prices.

1987 A "Statement of Purpose" was adopted after much discussion and involvement.

1988 Refurbished the two meeting rooms in the Parish House which were named the Bailey Room and Sinclair Room in honor of the long commitment of Gertrude Sinclair and Norma Bailey to the church.

1990 Presented the "Welcoming Congregation Program," an educational program designed to confront prejudice against non-heterosexual people, to our members and the larger community. We were the first congregation in the NH/VT District to offer this program.

1992 A "Mission Statement" was adopted.

1994 Sinclair /Bailey estate settled with income designated to go towards maintenance of church buildings.

1996 Summer services were reestablished after a lapse of many years.

1996 It was voted by the congregation to sell the Parsonage in response to changing needs of ministers.

2005 Covenant groups first established to foster friendship and deep spiritual growth.

2006 Steeple reshingled and the band containing the symbols are added.