A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SOUTH NEWBURY UNION CHURCH
In March 1831 , 183 people met to decide to build a meeting house in South Newbury. Pews were sold to people to raise part of the money for the building.
In 1893 the ‘pew holders’ met to conduct church business which was mostly about repairs to the church, raising money for the repairs and forming a committee to manage the project. At that time it is obvious that being a pew holder was the prerogative to having a vote in the business of the church.
For a considerable length of time, the church was affiliated with the American Baptist Churches and yoked with the Bradford Baptist Church.
In the 1930s Rev. Norman Scruton was called here to his first ministry with a salary of $ 12.00 a week. It is thought that at this time the Church Society was formed for the purpose of providing financial support while the Church membership provided the spiritual support
The Friendship House (formerly the old school house) was purchased from the town in 1954 and formally dedicated by Rev Norman Armstrong in 1955 to be used as a Parish House.
The church has had innovative services all through the years, including a Memorial Day Service celebrated the way Memorial Day was celebrated in the 1800s, marching to church for Thanksgiving like the Pilgrims did (even to including the ‘muskets‘, having a Chinese couple and their son from China take part in the service, and most recently, two pastors from Zimbabwe preaching. In the past three years, we have held a few services in the summer at the Newbury Harbor Gazebo.
In 2006 the church had a marvelous, prolonged celebration of it’s 175th anniversary, making a special quilt, having supper gatherings, and an interesting service acting out periods of time from its inception to 2006.
The church is very active in the town, sponsoring the 4th of July Children’s Parade, having a ‘Breakfast with Santa’, Supervising the Giving Tree at Christmas, holding a town wide Easter Egg Hunt, distributing Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets to needy families and numerous other activities.
Rev. Robert Washer served as pastor for the longest period of time, 1974-1988, serving both Bradford and Newbury Baptist churches. During his pastorate, the yoking with the Bradford Church was dissolved.
In 1996, while the Rev. William Salt was pastor, the church voted to become a member congregation of the United Church of Christ. Since then, the church has maintained that affiliation and called clergy with standing in that tradition.
Click on the links below to download extensive reports on the histories of our two buildings, the church, built 1831, and the Friendship House, originally a schoolhouse, built 1853.
Our two buildings are now listed on the NH State Register of Historic Places!