The History of the Kenmore United Church of Christ

A look back at our roots...

by Patricia Burgstahler

The history and traditions of this church are really the stories of the people who had a dream of worshipping together and eventually building a House of God.  The names are too numerous to include all the dedicated and enthusiastic Christians who worked to make their dream in Kenmore a reality.  The Church building itself is a testament to their vision and hard work.

A long-time historian of KUCC, Kathryn Jolls, captured the many important events in the life of the congregation when she wrote the history of the church for the celebration of its 75th anniversary in 2001.  Without people like Kathryn, the story of our faith journey might have been lost.  The following are some of those special events.  By sharing a glimpse of our past, you may be able to see how we have become the caring, welcoming congregation we are today:

In the fall of 1925, several people met in private home to discuss the possibility of organizing an Evangelical Covenant Church in Kenmore.  The property at the corner of Delaware Rd. and Danbury Lane was purchased in May, 1926 for $5000.00.  The cornerstone was laid in July and the building was dedicated October 17, 1926.  Since its beginning,  KUCC has been served by 8 different full-time ministers. 
Rev. Theodore Lehmann served the longest with tenure of 42 years.

The building has undergone two major additions, one in1953 when a new sanctuary was added and the building was cover in brick, and again in 1959 when a new kitchen and Sunday school rooms were built.  Besides changes in the building, there have also been two name changes during these 85 years.  In 1935, the Evangelical and Reformed churches merged making this Kenmore Evangelical and Reformed Church.  In 1961, the E & R Church merged with the Congregational Christian Church taking the name United Church of Christ, giving us the name we have today.

Visitors to Kenmore UCC are met at the door by smiling greeters and welcomed during the service by a member who makes and hands out “welcome bags” to all visitors.  Our service is followed by a Coffee Hour with refreshments and drinks, giving everyone a chance to meet and greet for a few minutes each week.  This social time is very important to our members and helps to include our guests right from the start.

Children have always been an important part of our church family.  We have always had a full Sunday school which serves all ages, nursery through high school.  The classes meet at the same time as the adult worship.  Once a month they are invited to join the service for Children’s Time.  Twice a year, the classes present programs for the congregation.

Over the past 85 years, some seasonal traditions which have developed and continued year after year are : spring and fall rummage sales, Advent Workshops, Mitten Sunday (hundreds of mittens, scarves and hats are collected for the needy), spring plant sale and fall chicken BBQ, Lenten Luncheons and Easter gifts handmade by the Senior class.  Rally Day is held the Sunday after Labor Day to kick off the new Sunday school year.  A bounce house has been added to the festivities for the past couple of years.  Two years ago, an altar cloth was fashioned from more than 50 men’s ties which were donated in honor or in memory of someone connected to our congregation.  It has become another annual event to display it on Father’s Day.  Many more ties have been donated and have been made into cloths used elsewhere.

To paraphrase Kathryn’s words from the 75th Anniversary:

This is a year of great rejoicing for the people of our church.  85 years of service in the community and the world at large have brought us together in closer fellowship.  Those years have seen the dreams and labors, joys and sorrows, prayers and gifts of many devoted people.  We all know that we have been richly blessed over the years.  Those who built this church have not labored in vain.  With humility and hope we look forward to a bright future for our “little church with a big heart.”