History

New Haven Green Churches


History of the New Haven Association
by Rev. John Van Epps (Archivist for the CT Conference)

As a result of the Saybrook Platform of 1708, an association of all the ministers in New Haven County was formed in April,1709.  There was also a consociation of the churches in the county.

The 1861 Ecclesiastical History of CT states, "This association has been the battlefield for the discussion of some of the most important questions relating to ecclesiastical order, theological doctrines, ministerial duty and covenant obligations."

With the growth in the number of churches, the Association was divided in two, with the division generally being the Quinnipiack River.  This east/west dividing line also tended to reflect the differences between Old Light and New Light congregations.  Thus the New Haven West Association was formed in 1787.  Some of its actions in the early years were to promote missions to the new settlements in this country, to prevent the multiplicity of divorces, and to oppose the African slave trade.  In 1812 it voted in support of temperance.

Then in 1853 the association voted that, "Whereas the number of members connected with this body has become too large for the efficient and profitable transaction of its legitimate business," several (mainly ministers in New Haven and vicinity) would withdraw to form the Central Association.

In 1893 the New Haven East and West Associations voted to form a New Haven Union Association.  Then in 1903 New Haven Central was admitted into this Union Association.

In the meantime the New Haven Conference of Churches was formed in 1865.  It was decided to have two conferences (East and West) instead of one, which would be inconveniently large.  This followed the dividing line of the 1787 division, except that 1st Church in Guilford decided to be part of New Haven West! 

This conference grew to over thirty churches, so in 1883 it voted to divide, with over a dozen churches forming what is now the Naugatuck Association.  The previous year the Meriden church had voted to leave and join the new Central Association.  At this time the churches were accorded their number of delegates to be chosen, "without distinction of sex."

In accordance with the recommendations of the National Council, in 1909 this group voted to change its name to New Haven West Association of Congregational Churches and Ministers.  Early in the 20th century Wallingford joined the Association, Guilford returned to New Haven East, and the word "West" was deleted from the Association name.

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