The Quincy Unitarian Church Home
The list of Selected Sermons.
The Rich History of Quincy's Unitarian Church.
We are thankful for the people who founded our church in Quincy. They and their followers had the spirit and perseverance to meet the many challenges through the last century and a half. As we learn of our heritage we become aware of our responsibility to not just continue, but advance with innovative ideas in our ever-changing world. They are our history now, as we will be the history to others. How will our history read, to the future?
At the Western Unitarian Conference held in June 1855 a lady delegate reporting on the condition of the society during those first fifteen years said: "during Sunday after Sunday have we looked earnestly at our door, hoping to see some new faces, but were as often disappointed. These men were faithful and devoted to their work, but the Orthodox were constantly working against them by series of meetings and other influences rendering theirs a discouraging labor. A few months since the Rev. Mr. Billings, of Bridgeport, Conn., came to us, and has been engaged to be our minister for the present, and he may be in truth called a theological Ishmaelite. He has taken a fearless and independent stand, not on the defensive, but the offensive side, holding up the popular theology of the place in all its glaring deformities. This course, although it might not be the wisest in all cases, has proved to be what was needed in ours. He is awakening thought among the young and, like the leaven hid in the meal, is producing an influence felt through the community. Last December he commenced a course of lectures on Sunday evening, and we have had the great gratification of seeing our house filled, and in one instance many had to go away for want of a place, not only to sit, but to stand. The congregations are of the most intelligent classes of our citizens, many of them young men almost ready to give up all faith in Christianity on account of the absurdities with which they had heard it presented."
Quincy was founded in 1825. Fourteen years later, early in April 1839, the 28 year old Rev. Dr. William Greenleaf Eliot of St. Louis visited Quincy. He preached on Friday evening and on the following Sunday morning and evening at the Court House.
In an anniversary sermon celebrating five years, the first minister, Rev. George Moore said:
"There were at that time several Unitarians in this place, but they were not known to each other as such. These first meetings served to introduce them to one another. The number, although small, was encouraging. The more they heard, the more they wished to hear wants which had long been dormant to their souls because there was none to supply them, were now awakened and felt in their full force. Those who had gathered here . . . now began to rejoice in the communion of kindred spirits. And their joy was accompanied by hope, hope that ere long they would have regular worship in which they could sympathize."
On May 31, 1839 the Second Congregational Society of Quincy was organized. Notice the word 'church' is not used. The first meetings were held in James DeHaven's school house on Third Street between Maine and Hampshire, with the leadership of Rev. Wm. P. Huntington from Hillsboro, Ill. These few young people, 25 to 30 years old, decided to build a church. Rev. Huntington traveled to the east, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and solicited funds from congregations there. According to his letter of April 24, 1840 he received money from Duxbury, $42.75; Lowell, $55.00; Cambridge, $18.00; Worchester $100.00 and Fitchburg, $50.00 for a total of $485.75, (although for a few places he "could get no money"). For the six weeks he was paid $10.00/week plus traveling expenses, so the balance to the Society of Quincy was $324.00. This was seen as a success and they moved ahead with the building project. Contributions were also received from Rev. Eliot of St. Louis.
Ground was leased on Maine Street between 3rd and 4th from the Chedell family for $30.00/year. In May 1840, a contract was let to Mr. Robert S. Benneson for a church building to be erected within one hundred days, to cost $1,058. It was completed in August with the added expenses of a communion table, mat for the pulpit, painting, fence and grading, for a final price of $1,135.69. This first church was a square one-story front with two-story ell.
According to a note written August 14, 1840 the Society paid Robert S. Benneson $67.87, "it being the amount of the last installment due him on contract for building the house of worship for the Second Congregational Society in Quincy."
Mr. Benneson was one of our church founders. He was born in Delaware in 1807, son of a Congregational preacher and shoe-dealer. He worked in Philadelphia as a carpenter. When he was 30 years old he came west to St. Louis, then up the Mississippi. On the arrival of the steamer at Quincy, he took a stroll through the then unpretentious town, and was so impressed with the place that he returned to the boat, ordered his baggage ashore and settled here for life. Robert Benneson's decision was extremely fortunate for the citizens of Quincy.
Our first church building was dedicated in October 1840 by the Rev. Dr. Eliot who remained several days, giving evening lectures in the church upon the doctrines for the denomination. On the first Sunday in December 1840, the Rev. George L. Moore of Concord, Mass. Became our first minister. On Dec 29, 1840 the church was organized within the society by the adoption of a constitution. Joseph L. Heywood and William H. Gage were chosen as the committee under the congregational plan which Art. 7 of the constitution defined: "The officers of this church shall be a pastor, and a church committee of two (who shall be chosen by ballot) who shall manage the fiscal concerns of the church, and shall with the pastor consult together for its good."
We have a well-worn paper which seems to be our first pledge drive. It reads: "We, the subscribers, hereby promise and agree to pay the several sums affixed to our names for the support of preaching in the Second Congregational (Unitarian) Society in Quincy for the current year. Quincy. March 1841." They had no use for confidentiality. Signatures are listed with amount of subscription, ranging from $25.00 to $1.00. Most of the pledges that year were for $10.00, which were paid quarterly, $2.50/quarter.
A Sunday School was organized in April 1841. A Unitarian Benevolent Society was organized on July 8, 1842, the stated purpose being "They hope by united effort to be the means of relieving many a child of poverty and cheering the homes of want. Their funds are obtained by each member paying 50cts annually and the donations of friends."
According to a note of July 6, 1841, Rev. Moore had received $220 "for supplying the pulpit for twenty-two Sabbaths." We can see that his starting salary was $10/Sunday service. In 1844 and 1845 his salary was $600/year. A fund left by an individual in Boston provided $150 yearly "for the propagation of the Gospel to the North American Indians and others." To entitle us to this missionary fund we had to do outside work. The minister would read his Sunday morning sermon to the inmates of the county jail later in the day. (A captive audience!) No follow-up data was done on these people as far as we know.
We have notes from the 1840's that tell us of a bookcase purchased for $5, one load of wood for $2, and $1.13 paid to John Emery "for making fires at church."
Rev George Moore, our first minister, died March 11, 1847, "much beloved in the community."
The Rev. Mordecai D'Lang began as pastor November 21, 1847 and served the society to April 1, 1850. His annual salary was $250.
The lease for the church ground could not be renewed in 1850. The first church building was sold for $230. The purchaser rented it to the Disciples of Christ for a year, then moved the front part of the building to a lot at 1250 Maine just east of the Webster School grounds. By building an addition onto the back it was converted into a home for Dr. W. W. Williams.
At the annual meeting held January 30, 1850 Mr. Powers and Mr. Lawrence were appointed a committee to look for a suitable lot for a second church. Ground was purchased on the south side of Jersey, approximately 610 Jersey, in May for $700. Construction began in August. This second church building cost $1,643.41 including the fence and furniture. It did not have a steeple, but did have a portico and the scrolls of the pews had rosettes.
This is a drawing of the building.
We have these receipts:
August 1850 - Materials for foundation of church $60.00.
October 18 - The second payment on contract for building church $400.00.
November 6 - For Centre Pew in the New Unitarian Church $9.00.
November 17 - For addition or portico on church $150.00.
The church was dedicated in November 1850 by the Rev. Wm. G. Eliot of St. Louis and the Rev. Wm. A. Fuller, the Quincy minister as of November 1.
At the annual meeting held in the new church on January 7, 1851 this report was given:
"You will perceive that were in debt for the erection of the church $84.87. There is also a balance again the society for expenses at our former church $96.47 leaving a debt again the S, $181.34 which has been equally advanced by Wm. H. Gage & R. S. Benneson and the debt being $90.67 due to each of them. Your trustees have secured the services of the Rev. Wm. A. Fuller for one year from the first of last Nov. For $550.0 $350, is to be obtained from the rent of Pews & $200, from the society for the propagation of the Gospel, whose officers reside in Boston Mass. The Pews were rented as the secretaries books will show."
In 1857 Rev. Liberty Billings had been minister for three years. The church membership had grown so much that the building was not large enough to accommodate the audience. In April of that year we have this memorandum written by R. S. Benneson:
"Rev. Wm G. Eliot visited Quincy for the purpose of ascertaining the prospect for building a new Church, which resulted, in calling a meeting of those friendly to the object at the House of R S Benneson After consulting together the following paper was drawn and signed as follows.
The undersigned agree to pay, the sums of money, hereunto respectively subscribed, for the erection of a House of worship for the use of the Second Congregational (Unitarian) Church, of Quincy, on the lot to be donated by Mr. & Mrs. Robert S Benneson, situated on Main Street, between Sixth & Seventh."
Heading the list of eight people is the name William G. Eliot $500. The total amount pledged at that meeting was $4100.00.
In the meetings of September 1857 they considered a building size of 50 x 75, with a fancy front, similar to one drawn by R. H. White, an architect residing in Syracuse, N. Y. and a friend of Rev. Billings. The estimated cost was between 12 & 15 thousand dollars. They offered the architect $200 including traveling expenses for one trip to Quincy. On September 24th Mr. White came for five days. The committee met with him and adopted the building plan. Benneson writes:
Sept 30, John Boles commenced digging the cellar at 18 cents per yard and finished it October 17th. There were 1,000 yards and extra trimming 1475 and R S Benneson paid him $100, for the earth deliver to Gas Co. and J. D. Morgan paid him the balance of $94.75.
Oct 20, John Saunders commenced laying stone foundation at ($2.25) per perch of 22 cubic feet of stone and finished November 3 . . .
Nov 4, Robert McComb commenced the brick walls in the cellar and finish on the 5 th . . .
The joist work was done days and evenings for a week
Nov 12, Adam worked this day carrying boards and digging ditches which closed up the church for winter.
The Building Committee met March 23, 1858. They opened and accepted bids for the carpenter, $1860, and for the stone work, $529. It was decided "after a full interchange of opinion" that the Jersey Street property be offered at $7,000.
In September of 1861 the Jersey Street building was used as a public school, named Centre School, for three years, and then in 1864 it became Quincy's first public High School, for two years.
Our third church on Maine between 6th & 7th was completed in 1858 at a cost of close to $18,500. (Some records say $12,530, others $20,000.) It was the largest Protestant church in the city. The auditorium was 92 feet deep and 28 feet high with each marbled wall having a triple arch, and the ceiling paneled and ornamented with a skylight and fresco. Rev. Liberty Billings conducted the dedication service on December 26, 1858.
In 1859 Mr. Benneson became the mayor of Quincy. He had been an alderman for six years, and for twenty years a member of the Quincy School Board, often serving as president. He was responsible for a law placing a tax of 12 cents upon $100 of the assessed value of property in the city for school purposes. He was a director of the First National. Bank, one of the incorporators of the gas company and president of it for six years.
During the first three decades, through the 1860's, most of the church's income was realized from rental of the pews.
The minister and other employees were paid quarterly:
The six month expenses were:
Due to the growth of the Sunday School, they needed to build a vestry or annex. At the annual meeting January 11, 1869 Gen. James D. Morgan offered to contribute the $2,000 necessary provided the society would raise the funds to furnish it, pay off the church debt - met annually by money advanced by Mr. Benneson - and put the church in thorough repair. This generous proposition was accepted. By February 15 the estimated amount of $3,100 was assured and Gen. Morgan was appointed to take charge of the construction. The Annex was used for the Sunday School, club meetings and all other activities.
In the mid 1870's, during the ministry of Rev. Frederick Hosmer, the society instituted the free seat system, ending the plan of raising revenue by pew rentals. They saw that the pews of former social distinction were no more sought after than others. At this time they also discontinued the use of the communion table. Mr. Hosmer was active as an organizer and director of the thought of the community. He was probably the hymn writer most favored by the Unitarians. Our hymnal has eighteen of his poems set to music.
In 1890, on December 28th and 29th (Sunday and Monday) the Second Congregational Unitarian Society celebrated the Fiftieth Anniversary. The "Order of the Exercises" consisted of five parts:
Sunday, 10:30 Church Service
Sunday, 3:00 Sunday School Program
Sunday, 7:30 Platform meeting
Monday, 5:00 Parish Sociable and Supper
Monday, 8:00 Historical Address, Dr. Joseph Robbins
The Quincy newspapers reported all of this in large articles.
On Sunday and Yesterday the Unitarian Church in this city celebrated its golden Jubilee, the fiftieth anniversary of its organization. The church edifice, on Maine Street between Sixth and Seventh, was beautifully decorated for the occasion, and at all of the services and exercises there was markedly apparent a feeling of suppressed joy and good fellowship, which displayed itself in the hearty greetings and congratulations which the members, old and new, extended to each other. Many of the old pastrs of the church were present, having come hundreds of miles to participate in the festivities, and joined with the members in the felicitations over the rounding out of the first half century of its existence.
On Sunday morning Rev. F. L. Hosmer delivered a sermon of exceptional beauty and interest to a large congregation. It was a sermon of the good, the true and the beautiful, a sermon of love, human and divine, a prose poem. The choir, consisting of Mrs. George W. Lyford, Miss Kespohl and Messrs. Frank C. Parker and W. H. Cadogan, rendered some very beautiful selections. The quartet never sang better, and received congratulations from many of those who heard them. Following was the program of the morning service:
Organ voluntary - Mozart's Gloria from 12th Mass
Invocation by the Rev. J. V. Blake
Anthem - "I Will Call Upon Thee" by Dudly Buck
Responsive service, led by Rev. C. F. Bradley
Scripture reading by Rev. J. V. Blake
Hymn - Written by the Rev. F. L. Hosmer for the occasion
Prayer by the Rev. S. S. Huntiing
Anthem - "Brightest and Best"
Sermon by the Rev. F. L. Hosmer
Anthem - "Lead Kindly Light"
Benediction by the Rev. S. S. Hunting
At 3 o'clock Sunday afternoon the Sunday school scholars and many of their parents attended the exercises which consisted of singing and short addresses by Rev. Hunting, Rev. Blake, Rev. Hosmer, Rev. Duncan, and Rev. Effinger. The short addresses were very interesting to all present, but were intended for the children, and contained thoughts and suggestions that will no doubt have a great influence in making the "stories of their lives" much more pleasant and god. The lessons intended to be given were brought out in such a manner that all the little ones understood them, and it was really interesting and amusing to see the attention with which they listened.
THE SUNDAY EVENING SERVICE
The platform meeting in the evening was notable for the feeling of good fellowship and suppressed joy everywhere prevalent, and for the large attendance of the older members of the church, in whose faces shone the delight they felt at listening to some of their old pastors. The meeting was conducted by the rev. J. Vila Blake, of Chicago, who preceded Mr. Bradley as pastor of the church. After a selection by the choir and a hymn by the congregation Mr. Blake said in part:
"I am glad tonight that it falls to my share not so much to speak as to bring forward others to speak. You are aware that in a platform meeting such as this the audience must do its full share, and on this occasion I am sure that you come with that feeling which will make the feeling one of successful unity. Fifty years is a long time, and it is a short time. One thousand years is as nothing in the province of God. But fifty years in the history of this church is a long time This church is one of the oldest in the west. When it was organized there was only one other in Illiinois and one in St. Louis, so that then there were only two others in fellowship with it in all the west. Now the country is dotted all over with Unitarian churches to the number of seventy or more."
After another hymn Mr. Blake introduced the Rev. J. R. Effinger, secretary of the western conference, who said in part:
"This day is one of unusual interest. We are so new in the west that to have one of our churches celebrate its fiftieth birthday makes us feel quite dignified. And we are so hale and hearty that we expect to live another fifty years, and then we will be harder to kill than we are now."
[We have his original hand-written speech in our archives.]
[Then on Monday:]
SOCIABLE AND BANQUET
The "Family Reunion" of last evening was probably, and from natural reasons, the most enjoyable occasion of the two days golden jubilee. At 5 o'clock the members of the Unitarian congregation began to gather in the church auditorium where a sociable time was enjoyed until 5:45. By that hour fully 200 members of the congregation, exclusive of the Sunday school, had assembled. All were then ushered into the church parlors where long tables were set for 200 persons. Every chair was taken.
A choice supper was cleverly served under the auspices of the organized women of the church, at the end of which Dr. R. Woods, as master of ceremonies, introduced the speakers of the evening. Rev. S. S. Hunting was the first called. At the close of his remarks Mr. Robert Benneson was announced to speak on the subject of Church Buildings.
[Mr. Benneson was 83 years old at this celebration. We have his original hand-written speech in our archives.]
Mr. W. B. Powers then spoke to the subject of other churches and of other denominations fifty years ago. When the first Unitarian church was erected there were in this city seven other denominations . . . These were all of the Trinitarian belief.
Women at work was the subject given to Mrs. Dr. Rooney. She spoke of the different organizations among the women of the church and eulogized their work.
Mr. William McFaddon responded to the "Sunday School" and briefly reviewed its history in an interesting manner.
Gen. J. D. Morgan was to speak on the "Church Annex." He took advantage of the lateness of the hour and the elderly saying that brevity is the soul of wit.
To Mr. J. N. Sprigg had been assigned the task of writing a poem, the subject matter to treat of the anniversary. Following is the poem:
One Life is enough for a worthy song
With an ode to the youth, Epic long
The working time, a requiem at the end,
The whole in sympathies that knit and blend.
[This continues with more than a dozen verses.]
Rev. C. F. Bradley was called upon to speak upon "The Forward Outlook," but as the hour was now 8:45 and many persons not members of the congregation were waiting in the church auditorium to hear the reading of a paper by Dr. Joseph Robbins, which reading had been advertized to begin at 8 o'clock, Mr. Bradley stated that he would, with the consent of those present, postpone the "Forward Outlook" until next Sunday.
Mr. Edward Wells was announced to speak on "Our Ministers," but refrained, saying that it was not his habit to compliment men to their faces and that on so happy an occasion he could not consent to scold them.
At 9 o'clock Dr. Woods announced that after the singing of a hymn written by Rev. J. Vila Blake, the congregation would adjourn to the church auditorium to listen to the reading of Dr. Robbins' paper."
It seems that people had much more patience 100 years ago. This Historical Address began an hour and a half late. It is lengthy and I can easily imagine that they were there well past midnight.
Sometime in the decade following this grand celebration the church ran into financial difficulties, so much so that by 1904 we have this letter that went out to the membership.
Quincy Ill July 2, /04
The treasurer of our Church informs us he has no money on hand. Dr. Pearsons (sic) salary for this month is due and some of the members of the Choir have asked for their pay, and all are entitled to it.
Please hand to Mr. Bert the amount convenient for you to pay now and obligeThe Trustees
We have a contract dated June 11, 1906 which states that Frank E. Stevens, organ builder of St. Louis "shall install and connect with the bellows of the pipe-organ in the Unitarian Church a first-class electric motor of sufficient power and capacity to supply the organ with all the stops drawn and that shall regulate itself after being started from the key-board." The cost for this was $142.00.
The earliest recorded thought of leaving the Main Street church is found in the annual Trustees' Report for the year 1910. "It has also been suggested by some that the church property be disposed of, a smaller church built with part of the proceeds and a sufficient amount be invested to secure a permanent income for the church." In recent years the church membership had grown smaller due to death and removal from the city, without a like number of new members. The treasurer's report showed that the amount received that year was $2,435.18 and expenditures amounted to $2,499.10, leaving a deficit of $63.92. It was a discouraging time in our history.
The following year (1911) the deficit grew to $1,000, much of it due to insurance, a new sidewalk, and repars after the September rains. They knew that in the next year there would be street paving amounting to $400. In addition to all this, the proposition of the previous year to sell the Maine Street church property and build in the residential area was not feasible because they could not sell it for what the members considered it to be worth. ". . . and further, if we cannot support the church where it is now located there is no assurance of any better support in a new location." They even considered building onto the front of the church and using it for business purposes.
Two months later, on March 13, 1912, a special meeting was held to consider an offer which had been received by the trustees through Mr. Dashwood, a real estate agent, for the purchase of the church property for $300 per front foot. Judge McCarl moved to decline the offer and the vote was unanimous. Then a motion carried to offer the property for $350 per front foot for sixxty days. At this same meeting Mr. Otto Mohrenstecher read a letter from Rev. Elliot resigning as minister of the church. They had many decisions to make.
In a meeting of April 2, 1912 Judge McCarl read an offer from a client of his for $350 per front foot for the property, resulting in a price close to $28,350. Mr. Otto Mohrenstecher said, "I am authorized to offer $29,000 net cash or deferred payments for Unitarian Church property 80 ft. 11 inches. "The motion to accept this offer was lost. A motion to "sell the property for the best price obtainable provided it be not less than $29,000 net" passed. Mr. Mohrenstecher's offer was accepted later, and the sale was final July 1, 1912.
At a May 24th meeting three locations for a new church were considered: South-west corner of Fourteenth & Hampshire, $2,400; north-west corner of Sixteenth & Vermont, $5,000 including the dwelling; and a vacant lot north-west corner of Sixteenth & Hampshire, price not made public. The committee considered the price of the third property very liberal and a much better location than the others. The motion to accept the Committee's recommendation passed ten to three.
In October the members were considering candidates for the next minister, and plans for the new church building. Plans of churches in Iowa City, Iowa; Madison, Wisconsin; Urbana and Kansas City; and from architect Harvey Chatten of Quincy were presented. Trustees E. F. Bradford and Samuel W. Eldred visited the Kansas City, Mo. Church and in December recommended the building of a new church similar to it. The minutes continue:
Archtect Chatten was present and examined the plans of the Kansas City church and pronounced it a "clever little English Chapel" which was used in small towns. Mr. Chatten explained the plans he had drawn for a new church, and said if they were too expensive he could remodel them and reduce the price materially.
The chairman called upon each member present for an expression of opinion. . . (Most favored) an inexpensive church similar to the Kansas City plans; some of them favored a basement under it, and others opposed the basement.
John L. Bert and Judge McCarl favored the remodeling of the plans presented by architect Chatten. Judge McCarl called the attention of the members to what other churches were doing for the young people, and claimed that we were doing comparatively nothing for our young people, on account of not having suitable accommodations in the old church, and that the proposed plans of the new church did not contemplate as suitable accommodations for the young people as the old church furnished. This he considered a very grave mistake.
Adjourned on motion -- Lyman McCarl, chairman.
The building plan of the Kansas City church was accepted with the addition of the social and Sunday School rooms beneath the main auditorium. The head of the building committee was Mr. W. H. Woodruf, with Dr. E. B. Montgomery assisting. In April 1913 the contracts were let for the structure. From the minutes of the June 18, 1913 meeting we can see that all was not planned in detail.
Mr. Mohrenstecher read a report of the expenditures up to the present time, towards the building of the new church, showing that the amount had exceeded by several hundred dollars the estimate of the architect.
Mr. Mohrenstecher also stated that the architects (sic) estimate of the cost of the completed building did not include pews, the moving and setting up of the organ, or any decoration of the walls other than a tinting of the plastering.
All this would add considerably to the expenses as first estimated, and still more if the society wished a more handsomely decorated interior than provided for in the plans. The trustees desired to know the wishes of the society in the matter of interior decoration, and asked permission to solve the financial difficulty by drawing upon the $10,000 fund set aside at a former meeting for the purpose of building a parsonage.
The final result was that with the purchase money from sale of the Maine Street church and its furnishings, amounting to $31,250.00 they were able to build and furnish the new one, pay $2,000 for the lot and also to buy a parsonage for $6,000 and have a balance of $2,000. The building cost $17,719.00.
This church, Our fourth building, was dedicated February 5, 1914. The style is Tudor - Queen Anne. All of the woodwork on the main floor is oak except the organ case which is butternut. The general design of the paneling and furniture in the chancel is a modified gothic.
In January 1914 a campaign was initiated to place memorial windows in the church. Mrs. Dr. Rooney, a former member residing in Los Angeles, California had suggested the project. She thought the relatives and friends of past members would be interested. The total of donations received into the fund was $1,374.25. The idea proved to be successful, and a wonderful addition to our building.
The Founders window, a scene in Indian Mounds Park (with the Mississippi River in the background), honors our founding members. It was dedicated April 23, 1916. In the south end of the church we have the Palm Window given in memory of Robert S. Benneson by his wife, Phebe N. Benneson. The Middle window is given in memory of David Eaton Lynds by Isabelle Lynds, and the Western window honors a founder, General James D. Morgan.
One of our Heritage Room windows is the Pilgrim fathers signing a covenant aboard the Mayflower. This was dedicated October 15, 1916, given by Sarah E. Walton in memory of her parents Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Jackson and her husband Henry P. Walton for whom Walton Heights was named. Dedicated December 24, 1916, the William Penn window shows Penn's treaty with the Delawares at Shackamaxon, November 1682. Mrs. Berrian gave this window in memory of Judge Benjamin F. Berrian. He contributed Berrian Park and most of South Park to Quincy's Park system.
The seventy-seventh anniversary in June 1916 was celebrated with a pilgrimage visiting the former church sites. Charles Edwin Seger, a great grandson of Robert S. Benneson, planted ivy at the front of the new church. Then there was a social gathering, supper, music, and an evening of service.
In 1920 the name of our church changed from "The Second Congregational Society" to "The Unitarian Church."
During the week of April 10, 1939 the church celebrated Anniversary Week in its Centennial Year. The installation service of Rev. Robert Pratt was held on Wednesday evening, and a public banquet at the Lincoln-Douglas Hotel on Friday evening with the Rev. Frederick May Eliot, president of the American Unitarian Association, as speaker. There was a twenty page book of our history published at that time. It mentions that the organ needed repairs, as suggested by our organist, William Spencer Johnson. It recognizes "our efficient treasurer, Lloyd Harris, whose management of our finances during a most trying time has been indispensable. . . we have our beautiful church fully paid for and our budget well balanced."
Stand firm, gray rock.
Tough-weathered beam, hold fast.
Staunch walls, proud roof
Repel the wintry blast!
Glow warm within
With highest hope and joy,
Clear flame of love
Burn brighter, warmer still.
Blessing: old church to new church
Pilgrimage celebration of our 77th anniversary, June 4, 1916
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The Rich History of Quincy's Unitarian Church.