The church was first “gathered” on September 2, 1724, at the home of John Howe in what was then a very large square house on East Main Street. In those early days, the regular meetings of the town also were held at Mr. Howe’s house and often the official action of the town was interwoven with that of the church. Much of our rich heritage as a nation is deeply rooted in Christian faith and fellowship. It was customary for people to share their homes for this purpose.
At that meeting on September 2, 1724, Samuel Barrett, who had graduated in 1721 from Harvard College, was ordained by an ecclesiastical council convened for that purpose. He was joined by fourteen men in the first membership of what was then called the Church of Christ in Hopkinton. Rev. Barrett was the Pastor for nearly fifty years until 1772. He had his own home built on the site of the present Town Hall on Main Street. He was given 100 acres of land and the sum of 30 pounds towards the building of his house. In addition to the salary of 35 pounds per year, he was given his firewood.
The first church building, which was actually called the Meeting House of the town, was voted by the townspeople on January 4, 1725; the structure itself was raised in December of that year and was first occupied in June of 1726. Early records indicate quite a difference of opinion in town as to the best location for the meeting house and the matter was finally settled by the drawing of lots, the chosen site being at the edge of the Common near the bronze plaque.
The first building was a plain wooden structure, two stories, 48 feet long by 35 feet wide and was not adorned with a steeple or cupola of any kind. It remained unpainted for nearly 50 years.
Although Rev. Barrett had started with only 14 members in 1724, at the end of his ministry in 1772 he had received 376 persons into church membership. The Rev. Elijah Fitch, who had come to Hopkinton as Rev. Barrett’s associate in December of 1771, succeeded him in 1772 as Pastor. The record contains Rev. Fitch’s letter of acceptance, a beautifully humble letter of love ending with the statement, “I am your Servant for Jesus sake and Brother in the faith, order and fellowship of the Gospel”.
Rev. Nathaniel Howe was ordained and became pastor in 1791 and married soon after. He served the church for 46 years until his death in 1837. They lived on an 88 acre farm on Hayden Rowe Street approximately ½ mile south of the church.
In 1829, the original ‘meeting house’ was sold and moved away to be used first as a barn and later as a boot factory.
During that year, a new church building was erected and Rev. Howe preached a memorable dedication sermon on January 13, 1830. This was the first building to be built on the site at 2 Main Street. This new building was a beautiful structure, 62 feet long and 50 feet wide with the front gables resting on four large pillars standing on hammered granite pavement. A spire stood over the front gable, containing a bell that weighed 1690 lbs. The entire basement was made of stone and was leased to the town for use as a town hall, having a separate entrance on the west side for that purpose. The church ‘auditorium’ contained 600 seats and boasted a gallery all the way around, nine feet high. The choir sat behind the pulpit, over the vestibule. This building stood until its destruction during the great fire of 1882, which also destroyed several other buildings in the center of the town.
The Great Fire occurred on April 4, 1882. Records indicate that in twenty minutes the splendid structure of the Congregational Church was in ashes. The 2800 lb. bell, which fell and was melted in the fire, was later recast into a bell of the same pitch as the original and hung at the church.
For nearly a year, services were held in the neighboring Methodist church. A new edifice was quickly built, and dedicated on May 9, 1883. This was the large, beautiful structure which stood until the hurricane of 1938.
Rev. Elmer Newton Eddy served as Pastor from 1929 to 1932 and from 1932 to 1936 Rev. John Edward Thomas served. Rev. Edwin B. Nylen served from 1936 to 1943 and it was during this period, in September of 1938, that the devastating hurricane caused the 130 foot steeple of the church to crash down, demolishing the church building. The members of the Episcopal Church let them hold services in their building for about a year and a half. (This is the stone building next to the library, which is now a handsome part of the library itself)
The cornerstone of the new church building (at 2 Main St and the ‘fourth meeting house’ in our 275 year history) was laid on May 14, 1939. One of the church leaders, Mr. Allison Williams, took charge of the construction and, through much devoted local labor and many splendid gifts, the fine structure as we know it today resulted.
Rev. J. Everett Bodge was Pastor here from 1943 to 1948, being ordained here on March 7, 1944. Rev. John Ed Thomas served again the interim period of November 1948 to September 1949 when Rev. Frederick C. Wilson came to serve the church for the next ten years.
During Rev. Wilson’s ministry, further improvements took place within the church structure. What was formerly an unused attic space, was transformed into additional classrooms for the Sunday School in 1954.
Rev. Forrest C. Higgins became Pastor in 1959 serving until 1967. He was followed by Rev. Robert K. Shimoda who served until 1971. During this period of time, Hopkinton, like so many communities, had gone through some rapidly changing scenes. The new highways, more than any other single factor, had made the town a natural focal point for future growth.
In the fall of 1971, Rev. Marvin L. Derby became Interim Pastor of the church, serving until the fall of 1972 when the congregation voted to call Rev. Richard A. Germaine. The congregation had diminished in size and there was some question as to whether the church would survive. However, under his preaching and teaching the congregation grew in size. From 1979 to 1982 Rev. David McKinney was Associate Pastor. In late 1985 Rev. Tim Lawton came on staff as Associate Pastor of Youth and stayed for two years.
In the fall of 1983 Robert Cloutier was called out of the congregation to become Associate Pastor of Pastoral Care. After completing a seminary education in 1992, he was ordained through the church in 1993.
In the fall of 1989 the church called Michael Laurence to be Associate Pastor of Youth and Christian Education. Mike was ordained through the church in 1990.
On October 2, 1994 the congregation voted to leave the United Church of Christ denomination due to theological differences. This was done after many years of trying to make an impact on the liberal stance held by that organization.
Construction at the 146 East Main St. location continued through the winter, spring and summer of 1997. On August 2, 1997 the dedication service was held, followed the next day by the first Sunday service with much excitement over what God would do with such a resource. The building, of approximately 50,000 square feet, doubled the previous building size with a Worship Center that accommodates 650 people, as opposed to 300.
2002 and 2003 were transition years as Richard Germaine, after 30 years as Senior Pastor, left to form a new ministry, Barnabas Ministries, Inc.
Dick’s 30 years of ministry saw this church come from the brink of dying out to a healthy, active fellowship of believers. His final sermon was from the same passage as his first sermon at FCCH, Zechariah 4:1-8. He challenged the congregation to consider all God has done in our live and given us for ministry. People and resources are available for us to make a great impact for the Kingdom of God in Hopkinton, Metrowest and the World.
Michael Laurence becomes the Senior Pastor.
In 2011, the church leadership, with careful thought and prayer, recommended to the congregation that we officially change the name of the church to Faith Community Church, which better describes who we are as believers in Jesus Christ. The recommendation was well received by the congregation and effective September, 2011, the name was changed.
Vision 2020 is cast from Pastor Mike and the Elders. The next step in God’s call for our church is to reach the 125,000 people within 20 miles of Faith Community who do not know Jesus or have a relationship with a life giving church.