Manchester Church of Christ plans 50th anniversary

By Martha Marteney - Staff Writer
Manchester - posted Wed., Aug. 17, 2011
Eugene Brewer founded the Manchester Church of Christ in 1961 and continues his involvement, although no longer as the church's minister. Courtesy photo. - Contributed Photo

Fifty years ago, the Manchester Church of Christ held its first service in the Orange Lodge on Center Street, with just 17 adults and 13 children attending.

Eugene Brewer, his wife, Barbara, and their daughters moved to New England specifically to found the new congregation. “It was a mission field for us,” said Brewer. At that time, there were not many Church of Christ congregations in New England. Brewer’s former church in Oklahoma sponsored his move to Connecticut. “They put their marbles in that bag,” said Brewer.

In just two years, the church outgrew the lodge location and decided to build a new building at 394 Lydall St., in Manchester. By 2005, the congregation had outgrown that property. The Manchester Church of Christ is now located in its new facility at 595 Tolland Turnpike, in Manchester.

Although Brewer retired from the position of minister in 1992, he is still very much involved. “It’s very gratifying,” said Brewer about the 50th anniversary celebration. “It means the culmination of a lot of hard work and prayer.”

“It’s exciting that the family that had the foresight is still here,” said Mary Brown, who is chair of the anniversary event. She joined the church in 1979, impressed with the church’s, and especially Brewer’s, emphasis on Bible studies. “I had never realized the Bible was a story from end to end,” Brown said.

It was Brown who suggested to the church elders that something special should be done for the church’s 50th anniversary. She has been working with Jo Ann Spruell on a celebration booklet. “I’ve been working on it a year, and it’s been fun,” said Brown. The booklet includes memories from former congregates who now live around the world.

In 1998, Arnold Holmes moved back to New England specifically to be the minister at this church. He is now joined by Outreach Minister Anthony Melankian and Youth Minister Brady Easter. According to Brewer, much of the congregation’s growth has taken place since Holmes joined the ministry. The congregation now has nearly 400 members.

The Manchester Church of Christ prides itself in being multi-cultural and representative of the community. “It’s remarkable how many nationalities have been members of our congregation,” said Brewer.

“We came to a service and it was so welcoming and the people were so friendly,” said Frank Rohan, who joined the church four years ago. “What’s so beautiful about the church is it’s open to everyone.” Rohan’s wife, Barbara, said they enjoy the senior events and the Bible studies.

“I’m hoping to get people to remember what came before and all the hard work,” said Brown of the 50th anniversary celebration, which will begin on Saturday, Sept. 10, at 11 a.m. with a picnic at Northwest Park. Events will continue at the church with a talent program from 2 to 4 p.m. Continuing the theme of “Back to the Future – Remembering, Rejoicing and Rededicating,” there will be a special history presentation on Sunday, Sept. 11, from 9 to 9:45 a.m., followed by a special worship service, lunch, singing and dessert. All current and formers congregates are invited to celebrate the festivities, as well as anyone interested in joining the church.

For more details, visit the website or call 860-646-2903.

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