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Bristol’s First Congregational Church Nears Capital Campaign Goal of $925,000 for Accessibility Renovations

To date, church members and friends have pledged more than $833,635 to the First Congregational Church’s United in Ministry capital campaign’s target of  $925,000. The campaign funds will be used to make the church’s Sanctuary, Lena F. Barnes Memorial Chapel, Auditorium, classrooms, and Dining Room fully accessible to people of all abilities.
The campaign officially began  May 17th when 120 members and friends of the 268-year-old Federal Hill church gathered for a festive brunch to launch United in Ministry, the first capital fund drive in 40 years. Campaign Co-Chairs Katherine Ill and Art Shahverdian announced the three-year fund-raising goal. “We have the history, the will, and the strength to be the Light on Bristol’s Federal Hill,” said Shahverdian.

Established in 1747, First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Bristol, Connecticut has deep roots in and a strong commitment to Bristol. The current church building is the third on the site and dates back to 1832. It was built largely by church members and financially supported by some of Bristol’s most renowned citizens of the time: Chauncey Jerome, Thomas Barnes, Jr., Chauncey Boardman, and Elijah Darrow.

In 1914 when Bristol could not raise the funds to construct a YMCA-type facility, First Congregational built the Parish House to serve as a recreational facility for all city residents. During the 1918 influenza epidemic the Red Cross used the Parish House as a hospital.

Through United in Ministry the church will install a five-stop elevator, a ramp, two new entrances, handicapped bathrooms, and other improvements.The Simsbury architectural firm, Clohessy, Harris & Kaiser has created preliminary architectural drawings for the renovations.

In 1953, First Congregational Church established Century Nursery School to serve the educational and developmental needs of Bristol’s children, ages 3-4. Among the church’s ties to the Bristol community are: providing meeting space for Weight Watchers, Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon, Prudence Crandall and other groups; supporting the St. Vincent DePaul homeless shelter, the Family Resource Center’s Backpack Food Program, and other Bristol social service and charitable groups.

First Congregational Church also works together on community projects with other local churches.  A main goal at the church is to continue increasing outreach in Bristol by working with houses of worship and community groups such as the Main Street Community Foundation, Family Promise of Central Connecticut, and the Bristol Boys and Girls Club.

“The history of our Christian community is to take bold steps that welcome all people to know the love of Jesus Christ. This historic accessibility campaign will move us from a congregation that believes all are welcome to a church where all are truly welcome!” says Senior Minister, the Rev. Kristen J. Kleiman.

If you have questions or would like more information, please contact the Rev. Kristen J. Kleiman at 31 Maple Street, Bristol, CT 06010. The church office can be reached during business hours (8 am to 4 pm, Mon-Thurs; 8 am to 1 pm, Fridays) at 860-589-4700, or visit

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