History

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Celebrating 175 Years of Black Rock Church

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Black Rock Village

Thomas Wheeler, from Concord, MA, along with a group of pioneers, established his home at the head of Black Rock Harbor. The settlement became known as Black Rock Village – named for the black rocks along the shore.

Fun Fact: Prior to 1849, the families from this settlement traversed the Unquowa River (now Ash Creek) to attend the First Church of Christ, Fairfield (est. 1639). A three-mile journey.

February 14, 1849
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February 14, 1849

A Lot To Build

Thomas B. Bartram offered a lot to build on Ellsworth Street. This is where Black Rock Church stood until it was torn down in 1968.

Fun Fact: Captain Bartram had a path cut through his property from his home on Brewster Street (which still stands today) to the church so he wouldn’t have to take the long way around. This path is known today as Bartram Avenue.

August 5, 1849
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August 5, 1849

The First Message

William Jessup Jennings preached the first message in the newly constructed building. He preached from Hebrews 2:1-3.

August 8, 1849 at 2:00 PM
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August 8, 1849 at 2:00 PM

Meeting House Dedicated

The new meeting house was dedicated. The building was overflowing. The church clerk wrote, “Our little Christian band was in tears – not of sadness, but of joy.”

March 1, 1850
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March 1, 1850

Rev. William Jessup Jennings

Rev. William Jessup Jennings was installed as pastor on March 1, 1850.

1881
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1881

Rev. Henry Collins Woodruff Becomes Pastor

Rev. Henry Collins Woodruff served for 41 years from 1881-1922.

He married Mary A Bartram who was a granddaughter of Captain Bartram who gave the lot of land to Black Rock Church.

October 1922
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October 1922

Rev. Charles Haddon Spurgeon MacDowell Becomes Pastor

Rev. Charles Haddon Spurgeon MacDowell served from 1922-1943.

The character of Black Rock Church as it is known today originally developed under Rev. MacDowell’s ministry by means of his youth Bible studies. During this time, new Bible studies were formed, congregants attended Bible conferences and camps, new leaders were raised up, Wednesday prayer services were revitalized, and a Sunday evening service began.

October 1922
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October 1922

The Dedication of Woodruff Hall

On April 29, 1923 Woodruff Memorial Hall was dedicated. Funds for the building were donated by Rev. Woodruff’s widow.

December 1933
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December 1933

Black Rock’s First Supported Missionary

Harry Cox, Black Rock’s first supported missionary, left for Nigeria under Sudan Interior Mission (SIM)

1937
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1937

Black Rock Teenagers Began

In 1947 The Bridgeport Post published an article about Black Rock Teenagers reading “the best established and attended group of its kind since it offered a healthy, positive solution to the problem of delinquency and restlessness in the youth of today.”

January 1945
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January 1945

Congregational Denomination

The church was without a pastor for two years. In January 1945 it was voted to sever Black Rock’s association with the Congregational Denomination.

August 8, 1949
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August 8, 1949

Centennial Celebration

Black Rock Church celebrated its Centennial with a buffet supper and service in the parish hall. Dr. Cleveland, the pastor at the time, spoke on “The Prince of Peace,” the same topic as that of Reverend Jennings on August 5, 1849.

November 25, 1950
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November 25, 1950

The Steeple Crashes

At 11:02 A.M, several of the church members living on Ellsworth Street and the immediate area watched as our steeple crashed into the roof, piercing the sanctuary ceiling with the weather vane during a hurricane. The steeple was never replaced.

September 1, 1956
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September 1, 1956

Rev. Stanley R. Allaby Becomes Pastor

Rev. Stanley R. Allaby served from September 1, 1956 to May 31,1997.

The first few years of his ministry saw good, solid growth take place in the church, the Sunday School, and the youth work. It was not long before a second morning worship service had to be added to accommodate the people who were coming. Even after adding a second service it was not uncommon to have to put chairs in the aisles at the second service. This continued growth marked the need for a larger facility.

1958
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1958

First Annual Missionary Conference

During the second year of his pastorate, Pastor Allaby initiated the First Annual Missionary Conference.

Black Rock Missions support had been growing and by this time 8 missionary couples were being supported.

The first Faith Promise program goal was $22,000

June 1966
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June 1966

Purchase Of Our Present Property

The Bridgeport Zoning Board determined we could not build on the land we owned in Bridgeport. Within 24 hours, several of the businessmen of the church had found a beautiful six-acre piece of land on Black Rock Turnpike and out of their own funds, made a deposit on the property. Within a few weeks, the legal work was completed and our present property was purchased. 

April 30, 1967
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April 30, 1967

Groundbreaking Ceremony

A groundbreaking ceremony was held. After many ups and downs, Pastor Allaby preached a sermon about how only God, not we, could build a church. It was up to us to have faith and trust in God knowing that His plans and His timetable were perfect.

March 31, 1968
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March 31, 1968

Dedication Of Our Present Building

March 31, 1968 was the dedication of our present building at 3685 Black Rock Tpke, Fairfield.

The Sanctuary capacity was 550.

September 6, 1969
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September 6, 1969

Black Rock Nursery School

September 6, 1969 Black Rock Nursery School opened and ran until 2012.

1971
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1971

Additional Full Time Ministers

The first full-time youth minister and Minister of Music were hired.

1976
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1976

Summer Adventure

Summer Adventure began in 1976

1979
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1979

Cambodian Refugee Family

Black Rock ‘adopts’ a Cambodian refugee family which brought other Cambodians worshiping at Black Rock.

1984
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1984

First Minister of Missions

The first Minister of Missions, Doug Christgau, was hired.

1984
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1984

Sights and Sounds of Christmas

The first “Sights and Sounds of Christmas” concert. This became a leading evangelical witness to the community.

1990's
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1990's

Expanding the Missions Program

Domestic and international missions trips were introduced.

November 1997 was the first Fall Missions Festival focusing on local missionaries.

At the end of the decade, the Faith Promise goal was $567,000 and 79 missionaries were supported by Black Rock.

 

June 1997-Present
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June 1997-Present

Dr. Stephen A. Treash Becomes Senior Pastor

Dr. Stephen A. Treash has served since June 1997 to present.

March 1993
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March 1993

Contemporary Worship was Introduced

    The first contemporary worship service was launched in March, 1993 and was called, “The Early Church.” (they met at 8:30 AM)

    2000
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    2000

    Sanctuary

    Sanctuary Young Adults was launched. Sanctuary was started as a way of reaching Young Adults who were missing in Black Rock’s congregation. Sanctuary focused on worship and messages that reflected the communication styles of the time. It was the only Young Adults service of its kind in Fairfield County and God strengthened it as it quickly grew in numbers and breadth of ministry opportunities. What started as a Sunday night service rapidly became a thriving community of hundreds of College and Young Adults.  

    2012-2014
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    2012-2014

    Construction of Third Building

    After originally being rejected for the town’s Wetlands Commission, new plans to renovate the building were drawn up.

    The 2012-14 project was a rebuild that incorporated some of the previous spaces of the 1968 building. 

    October 2012 – Groundbreaking for the construction of the new facility.

    June 14, 2014 – The first Sunday back in the brand-new facility.

    2019
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    2019

    The Second Floor Was Completed

    2024
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    2024

    Black Rock Celebrates 175 Years