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A SHORT HISTORY OF
PILGRIM CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH
Harwich Port, which lies on the south side of the town of Harwich, was once a thriving seacoast village where sailing vessels rode proudly at anchor or moored at one of several wharves along its shoreline.
The men who founded Pilgrim Church were sea captains, ordinary seamen, carpenters, farmers, millers, lawyers, sail-makers and merchants. Some descendants of these men live in Harwich and are associated with Pilgrim Church today.
It was on February 15, 1853 that a small group of members from the Harwich Center Congregational Church first met to discuss the possibility of establishing a Meeting House in Harwich Port. Early records of the "Pilgrim Church Society" as it was first known, show that a public notice was given "to all interested in the forming of a church" to meet on March 6, 1853 at School House District No. 12. And so it was that when the people of this village decided that "Owning to the increased population in the vicinity of Harwich Port and for the better accommodation of the inhabitants if said vicinity" and "feeling the importance of maintaining and supporting the Gospel in all its purity" warranted their establishing their own church - they did so.
After many preliminary meetings, the church was established on February 7, 1854 and a vote was taken to build at a cost not to exceed $6,000 and later it was voted to increase the cost to $7,000. Promises for funds to build a church did not come easily in those days but the 79 men who were the original shareholders subscribed a total of $9,300 to build and furnish the Meeting House. The actual building of the church got underway and by late 1854 it was completed.
The dedication took place on February 1, 1855 and the first minister, Reverend William A. McCollum took part in the Dedicatory Service. The salary paid Reverend McCollom was $600 for one year. On February 3, 1855 pews were sold at auction and owners of the pews were taxed years for the support of the church. In 1865, ten years after Pilgrim Church was dedicated, the Meeting House was paid for.
Through the years ministers came and went and church membership varied. As late as 1928, membership was still less than 100 and the total operating budget was $2,200. The ten-year period between 1956 and 1967 featured the largest building growth. On September 4, 1955, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the construction of the Parish House, now known as Monbleau Hall, Snow Parlor and the offices. The Chancel was added in 1966 and the Chapel was built and dedicated that year. In 1967 the Narthex and Portico were added and also the Portico columns. Projects since 1968 to the present involved maintenance of the facility and renovation of the steeple.
The past history of our church provided a firm foundation and we are proud of that heritage. The present is our opportunity to continue the work for those who come after as the future will be largely influenced by our accomplishments. For 168 years, Pilgrim Congregational Church has stood as a beacon. May our light continue to shine.
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