Wildermere Beach Congregational Church


Church History

Wildermere Beach Congregational Church by Virginia Novak Kelsey The Wildermere Beach Congregational Church dates back to 1895, at which time it was a community meeting place for religious and legal meetings. In 1923 it became the Walnut Beach Union Chapel Society, Inc. In 1943 it was accepted into membership of the Connecticut Conference of Congregational Churches and later changed its name to Wildermere Beach Congregational Church.

Currently, WBCC is included with The United Church of Christ denomination. The original structure was simply the "meeting house" building, but in 1924 a kitchen was constructed with a furnace room in between. The furnace room also was used as a Sunday School teaching area along with the church proper. In the late 1940's a raised ranch style parsonage was built next to the church. This was one of the first raised ranch style homes in the area. In 1950 an addition was erected to the church creating a parish hall. In 1967 a building program was instituted for another addition. The addition was finished in 1968 and added a small chapel, a congregational living room and a church school nursery on the first floor, an office and pastor's study on the second floor.

During the early years of WBCC the church was served by visiting pastors and students from Yale Divinity School. One of the earliest preachers was The Reverend Howard C. Meserve who later became Head Librarian of the Taylor Library, in the building housing the Chamber of Commerce in Milford center. The Wildermere Beach Congregational Church has always been community involved. The Good Shepherd Day Care Center had its birth at this church as a church-related outreach program.

The original Board of Directors were all members and friends of the church. For the first years it was entirely supported by church donations and volunteer staff, but the need was greater for a full time center and it became state-funded and remained meeting at the church until the child population became too great for the size of the building. The Good Shepherd Day Care Center now operates from St. Peter's Episcopal Church school building, with a branch at the East Shore. For several years the church provided free Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for anyone who wished to attend. This ministry became a part of the outreach of the Berean Assembly of God Church on New Haven Avenue in later years.

The Wildermere Beach Congregational Church is proud of its history as part of the community both as a Christian organization and its association with many of the secular functions. Currently meeting in our Parish Hall are an Alcoholics Anonymous Chapter and The Wildermere Beach Neighborhood Association.

  • Reference- Kelsey, Virginia. 2004. Sand In Our Shoes: A Narrative and Pictorial History of Walnut Beach – Myrtle Beach, Milford Connecticut. 1st Edition. Photo Restoration & Design. P382-84.

Church Leaders

1895 Visiting pastors from neighboring towns

1905-1928 Reverend Howard Meserve

Nov. 1928 - June 1929 Reverend Paul Keckley

June 1929 - Oct. 1929 Reverend Donald Salmon

Oct. 1929 - Aug. 1930 Reverend C. G. Christensen

Aug 1930 - Dec. 1930 Reverend J.E. Walters

Dec. 1930 - June 1932 Reverend F. B . Loper

June 1932 - May 1934 Reverend Walter Moore

May 1934 - May 1936 Reverend Curtiss Jones

June 1936 - Sept. 1936 Reverend William Henderson

Sept. 1936-1937 Reverend Russell Compton

Sept. 1937 - April 1937 Reverend Howard Mumnia

April 1937 - Oct. 1937 Student Pastors from Yale Divinity School

Oct. 1937 - Jan. 1941 Reverend William West

Jan. 1941 - June 1941 Reverend E. C. Rowand

June 1941 - Sept. 1943 Reverend Bryan Eshelman

Sept.1943 - May 1944 Reverend Avery Lee

June 1944 - Aug. 1945 Reverend E. Weldon Keckley

Sept. 1945 - Jan. 1946 Supply Pastors

1945-1951 Reverend William Knox

Oct. 1951 - April 1952 Dr. Warren W. Pickett

1952-1955 Reverend Howard 0. Steams, Jr.

Sept. 1955 - June 1958 Reverend William B. Bradshaw

Summer 1958 Reverend Robert Watson

Aug. 1958 - Jan. 1959 Candidates

1959-March 1964 Reverend Elmer Patterson

April 1964 - Aug. 1964 Reverend John Smith

Sept. 1964 - June 1973 Reverend Robert H. Anderson

June 1973 - August 1973 Supply Pastors

Sept. 1973 - June 1974 William C. Matthews

June 1974 - 1985 Reverend Hartford C. Inlow

Aug. 1985 - June 1986 Reverend L. Randall Thompson

Aug. 1986 - Jan. 1993 Reverend Douglas P Lyon

1993-1995 Reverend David Colton (Interim)

1995-1996 Supply Preachers

Sept. 1996 - Aug. 2001 Reverend Arthur F. White

2001-April 2012 Rev. John B. Thursby

June 2012-Present Rev. L. Kenneth Fellenbaum