The First Congregational Church in Jackson, Michigan celebrated their 150th anniversary this month. In a report from the Jackson Citizen Patriot, the church earned a national historic designation in July. Getting a spot on the National Register of Historic Places is a fitting and wonderful way of celebrating their anniversary. If you’re visiting Michigan and can make it to Jackson during the trip, make sure to add it to your list of things to do on vacation in Michigan.
For “Peace and Harmony”
Rev. Kerry Taylor-Snyder, the church pastor said in an interview that the news “is very exciting. It’s recognition of the history of the church and what people have done through the years in standing for social justice, peace and harmony.”
Its Rich History
Early beginnings of the First Congregational Church go back 169 years. It helps with the foundation of the city and those people who lived first lived the area.
In 1837, Jackson was barely thriving when the Congregational and Presbyterian founded their churches. Both churches hoped for a better society for the small population in the area. But the relationships between these two churches was anything than peaceful.
Displeased with the pro-slavery stand by the General Presbyterian Assembly, Rev, Marcus Harrison separated from the church. Along with 58 members, they rallied against the church on March 6, 1841. Harrison later became the first minister of the First Congregational Church.
At that time, slavery was a common practice in the south but still hotly debated. The church became one of the first churches to stand against slavery. It later passed a resolution against the inhumane act.
Standing Against Slavery
Slavery was first brought to the country in 1619 to get manual labor in the production of tobacco. Slavery was practiced throughout most of the the 17th and 18th centuries. While slaves helped build the economy in founding the new nation, they received worse than nothing in return.
With the making of the cotton gin in 1793, it called for more slaves to work in plantation farms. But by the mid-19th century the debate over slavery grew to a fever pitch. There had been a growing eradication movement in the North and the westward expansion that would tear the country apart. This started the bloody Civil War from 1861 to 1865.
The First Congregational Church in Jackson was among the first communities to take an open stand against slavery.
The Romanesque Revival designed building was dedicated in October 1860. Up to this day, the congregation still uses the building. For many years, it served as a community landmark, according to the church historian, Marilyn Guidinger.
The church first became a historic site in Jackson County in 1975. It was later placed on the State Register of Historic Places in 1897. Earlier this year, the church submitted a 30-page application be accepted as one of the National Historic Places. Taylor-Snyder said that they waited for more than six months to receive the good news.
As one of the National Register of Historic Places, the government designated the church a historic location worthy of preservation and, certainly, your attention.
Usually, markers are placed to indicate that a place is included on the national register. However, the church does not have any funds for a marker at this time, according to Taylor-Snyder.