And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. Matthew 16:17-19

Our Church

This is my Church: It is composed of people just like you and me. It will be friendly if I am friendly.
It will make generous gifts to many causes if I am generous. It will bring others into fellowship if I bring them. Its seats will be filled if I fill them. It will be a church of loyalty and love, of faith and service if I, who make it what it is, am filled with these. Therefore, with God's love, I dedicate myself to the task of being all these things I want for my church.

A Little Church History

Let’s See — Where’s a Good Place for a Church?

A meetinghouse was a necessity to the religiously fervent settlers of New England, and it is generally believed that, when a town was large enough to support a congregation, no time was wasted in building a church. Well, that may be so, but Colebrook certainly wasted a great deal of time in building its church. The decision to build a church was reached in 1780, with the first task being to decide on a proper place. This proved to be more easily said than done: the question was not fully resolved until 1794, fourteen years later.

Bickering over the location of churches was a common enough pastime in those days. There was ‘red tape’ back then as well as now. A special committee was sent from the County Court in order to decide the location of the church, and, after the committee had visited Colebrook, it designated some land on the hill north of Mill Brook (now Center Brook), as the future site. Now it was up to a vote at a town meeting. The town clerk’s record of the meeting reads: “Voted, that the town agree to the doings of the committee in setting a stake for a meeting house in said town by a majority of about two votes.”

Such precision. At any rate, the people on the south side of the brook were so dissatisfied with the location that nearly a year and five months after the first decision was reached, “It was voted at a town meeting to apply to the General assembly to set aside the doings of the honorable County Court…. and ask for the appointment of another committee to set a stake for the meetinghouse.”

This step was necessary because the site of the church had already been established legally. Seeing that the southern faction was about to press the matter, the northern people, to make peace with the town, joined the southerners. The second committee decided to set the stake north of the brook, about thirty rods south of the former site. On December 23, 1782, the town “Voted, that this town proceed to do something towards building a meetinghouse.”

It looked good for a while. No disagreement. Even before this last meeting, consideration was given to other affairs of the church, such as finding a preacher, and it was decided to levy a tax of one pence on the pound for the purpose of hiring a singing master—“ in order to instruct the inhabitants of the town in the art of singing.”

Then, at the October meeting in 1784, it was voted to “make application to the General Assembly…for a new committee to set a stake for building a meetinghouse in said town.” That’s the third request to the assembly for a committee. It’s my belief that the General Assembly must have groaned a little whenever they received a correspondence from Colebrook during this period.

This request came twelve years before the issue was finally decided. A manuscript of Reuben Rockwell explains the problem.

The southern people were dissatisfied for two reasons, first because it (the site) was set north of the brook; second, because the ground was very unsuitable for a meeting house, several declaring they had much rather go 30 rods farther north to the place where the first stake was set than build on a place so unfavorable. The northern people, though not pleased with the ground, made no objection to the place, and a committee was appointed and preparations made for building the house.

The committee proceeded to prepare the foundation and frame the house, when an opposition on the part of the southern people was manifested, a meeting called, and after much altercation, it was voted to postpone raising the house. The timber was piled and secured from injury.

The prospects at this time were gloomy; every appearance seemed to indicate a people ruled by contention.

The Center’s problems continued. With the lumber piled and waiting, the congregation waited, too. And as they waited, they grew tired of the controversy. Some bright person proposed that a good site on each side of the brook be determined, and then the two sides would each draw lots to pick which one was to be the home of the church. This plan was accepted.

The southern side won this game of chance. So, on the south side of the brook, the church was raised, covered and lighted, and the floors were laid.

According to Reuben Rockwell, “the northern people refused to join in procuring preaching, or in any measure build up the society, and though there was a meeting house, nearly one-half of the people would not enter the doors.”
The southern people asked the northern dissidents what was wrong. They replied, like babies, that they wanted to discount the deciding game of chance; that they had inadvertently agreed to the plan simply to be good sports. Nothing would satisfy them except moving the now-built church. All of a sudden, southern people began saying that, they, too, wished the church were on the other side of the brook. The southern leaders, at a loss, seemed to withdraw. A plan to move the church was accepted.

Colebrook Stories, Alan DeLarm, printed by the Colebrook Historical Society, 1979, pp.14-19

Reuben Rockwell relates the rather absurd end to this tale:

The plan adopted was to remove the house, (to the north side of the brook) during the winter season with oxen. Preparations were made to accomplish this Quixotic enterprise, and in the month of February, 1794, the attempt was made. About 150 pair of oxen was collected and (the church) began to move majestically forward: but, there being a small descent soon to pass, it was found that it would move forward rapidly without being drawn and, it was judged utterly impracticable to proceed, and after two days’ labor, the house having been moved about 30 rods (about 495 feet), the project was for the present abandoned. In the autumn following, another attempt was made to remove the house with pulleys and ropes—but after a trial this plan was also found (to not work).

Tired, worn out and frustrated with these fruitless projects, the actors in this business seemed disposed to sit down and count the cost. The delusions of party feeling and obstinacy seemed in a measure to vanish.
The dispute had run its course, and the church was given a secure foundation a short distance from where the building itself seemed to put its foot down.

Source: History of Litchfield County, Connecticut with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of its Prominent Men and Pioneers…… Published: Philadelphia: J.W. Lewis & Co., 1881. REUBEN ROCKWELL Reuben Rockwell was born at Colebrook in August, 1818, and has always resided in the town; was elected to the Legislature in 1857, and to the State Senate in 1858; was appointed by President Lincoln, in 1862, assessor of internal revenue for the Fourth District of Connecticut. Submitted by: Linda Pingel