THE STORY OF FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
While Presbyterian churches became commonplace in communities to the south and west, they were (and remain) scarce throughout New England in general and around New Haven in particular.
The Presbyterian immigrants from the British Isles who came to New Haven had to wait until 1885, when the Rev. James G. Rodger, a recent graduate of Yale, gathered 23 worshippers for a Sabbath afternoon service and undertook a presentation to Westchester Presbytery on the subject of sponsoring the organization of a Presbyterian church. In 1886 the Presbytery Commission organized the First Presbyterian Church of New Haven with Mr. Rodger as pastor and three individuals with fine Scots names, George Petrie, Archibald Gardner, and Alexander Gibson, as elders.
By 1889 membership had swelled to 107, "though this included absentees," and they had undertaken to purchase the old Third Congregational Church building for $30,000. Soon, however, membership dwindled, and the building was surrendered in favor of a vacant lot on the south side of Elm Street between State and Orange, where John Davenport's homestead had stood in colonial times. Less than four years after it had begun, James Rodger resigned his pastorate, because he was in ill health, and "a lack of harmony between the pastorand the congregation led both parties to agree that a parting of the ways was in order."
F.A.M. Brown and the Benedict Memorial
Soon attendance had dwindled to fifteen or twenty souls, who persevered in calling the Reverend F.A.M. Brown, from Little Falls, New York in 1890. Under his guidance services continued in a factory room on Elm Street, while a small chapel was constructed on the rear of the church's nearby lot. Little could this tiny congregation foresee the trials of their successors, who would renew the church under very similar circumstances 65 years later.
To be continued ~~~