Green's Farms Church

GFC History

Green's Farms Church, and the town that would be called Westport, started when five Fairfield families saw the beautiful stretch of fertile fields on the banks of the Long Island Sound and staked out their claims along the Indian path that is now Beachside Avenue. In 1648 the new families persuaded the Fairfield town fathers to acknowledge their claims and founded the community known first as Bankside, then as Green's Farms.

By 1711 the settlement was large enough to support a church, which became the center of community life. Upon petition, Connecticut authorities permitted "an independent ecclesiastical society" to exercise religious and civil functions, as was the custom. Appointed officers included a tax collector, constable, sheep master and fence viewer. The first Meeting House, built in 1720, was constructed of hewn oak and clapboard. It was only 36 feet square and had rough benches, not pews. When pews were added later, sometime after the second Meeting House was built in 1736, they were allotted according to "age, dignity of descent, place of public trust, pious disposition and estate" of each family.

The families who founded Green's Farms Church were the settlers of both the town and the church. A list of their names reads like a "Who's Who" of Westport history, including Burr, Sherwood, Meeker, Sturges, Jennings, Nash, Adams. Over the last three centuries our membership has included many community leaders. The descendants of these founding families have worshipped in this church for generations, including some who are in the pews on Sunday mornings even today.

On Communion Sundays today's worshipers remember one of those early settlers for quick thinking that saved the church's silver communion service. In July 1779 advancing British soldiers burned the Meeting House to the ground. Nothing was saved but the communion service that Deacon Ebenezer Jesup rescued by hiding it down his own well. Without a Meeting House, the parishioners met in private homes for the next ten years. Then in 1789 the congregation built a new church building on our current site at Hillandale Road, this time raising money by auctioning off or selling pews outright. (The most expensive one was the front pew to the left of the pulpit, the least expensive was in the back corner.)

The forces of nature compelled the congregation to rebuild or repair at least twice. In April 1852, a fire burned the third Meeting House to the ground. Parishioners responded to that challenge by purchasing additional land and rebuilding the next year. A century later, in 1950, hurricane winds sent the steeple crashing through the roof of the Sunday School room, where the parlor is today. The congregation decided to expand that repair effort to include lighting for the steeple. It also rebuilt the Sunday School room to double as a social hall and added a Sunday School wing. The church took on most of its present appearance in 1961 when the parishioners added the current social hall, additional classrooms, a church office, ministers' offices and a choir room.

Today, the building serves a growing congregation of over 350 families, with over 300 children in our children and youth ministries. As part of the United Church of Christ, we strive to be a community of God's people offering "extravagant welcome and radical hospitality" to one and all.  The building is in use night and day by church programs, various self-help and 12-step groups, a Nursery School and a daycare center.

Green's Farms Congregational Church celebrated its 275th anniversary in June of 1986 with ceremonies, a parade, dinners, and a special worship service. We will be 300 years old in 2011 and look forward to a community-wide celebration to mark that significant milestone among American churches.

In the year 1711:

  • George Frideric Handel's "Rinaldo", the first Italian opera written for the London stage, premiered.
  • Louis XIV was King of France.
  • The tuning fork was invented.
  • Scottish philosopher David Hume was born.
  • And Green's Farms Church was founded.

2011 ushered in a year of celebrating and renewing a 300-year commitment to serving God through worship, mission, fellowship, stewardship and outreach. Diring 2011, GFC had many interesting, fun and meaningful events--including special music, concerts, a history of our church, community events and a video documentary, just name a few--all leading up to our special celebration in the spring of 2011.