Celebrating 160 years in 2018
The congregation of Plymouth Church continues its industrious history that helped to shape the community of Burlington 160 years ago with opportunities for learning and inclusive involvement for all. Many of the Plymouth Church founding members were pioneers whose significant contributions to the Burlington community helped create the city as we know it today.
Prominent early citizens who were members of the church included entrepreneurs and businessmen Pliny Perkins and Charles Foltz. Among the many ministers who have served Plymouth Church, special mention can be made of Rev. Henry C. Schadeberg and Rev. Trent B. Rockwell. Rev. Schadeberg served the congregation for 14 years and went on to serve four terms in the US Congress, feeling that more of God’s people should be involved in government. Trent Rockwell served Plymouth for 15 years. He brought branches of social service agencies from Racine to western Racine County and began Plymouth Day Care Center, which is now called Plymouth Children’s Center.
Heritage of progress
Plymouth Congregational UCC has deep roots in Burlington’s earliest religious history beginning with the Protestant Free Church that first met in Whitman schoolhouse in 1843. Since that time, a steady heritage of spiritual progress has grown through a church community working for justice. As early as the 1850s, this spirit of inclusion began when Reverend Pettibone gave a manual to each member of the congregation which included a strong view against slavery and a statement that anyone could become a church member regardless of the color of his skin.
Charter members of the early church took part in the underground railroad, “a little way station”, from 1842 until the formation of the church. These members were prominent citizens like Dr. Edward D. Dyer, who raised funds for fleeing slaves like Carolyn Quarlls, the first fugitive slave from St. Louis, providing free passage to the safety of Canada. It took great courage at the time and Dyer was assisted by men like Deacon Samuel Brown, Lyman Goodnow, E. D. Holton, Cramer, Finch and others.
Historic progress made by the congregation’s early efforts echo in today’s openhearted spirit. Plymouth Congregational UCC church ministries continue a welcoming acceptance of all who are on God’s journey and transform cultures of hate and violence into communities of healing and reconciliation. They give witness to God’s continuing testament and how His gifts are being liberated for service in the world.
Congregational UCC History
The Congregational United Church of Christ (UCC) includes new denominations of some of the nation’s oldest churches, including the West Parish of Barnstable, Massachusetts, founded in 1616 (initially formed in London) – four years before the Pilgrims came to America. In 1820, three groups of early colonists in search of religious freedom and liberty, joined to form the Christian Churches. One hundred and eleven years later, the Congregational Churches and the Christian Churches, joined together to become the Congregational Christian Churches in 1931. The Reformed Church in the U.S. (that began in Switzerland and Germany in the sixteenth century) joined with the Evangelical Synod of North America (that began as a union of Lutheran and Reformed groups in Germany) to become the Evangelical and Reformed Church in 1934. The UCC formed in 1957 at Cleveland, Ohio when two million members of the Congregational Christian churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church joined together.