Pilgrim Congregational Church traces its roots to the Separatist movement in England in the late 1500’s and early 1600’s. In 1620 a group of those Separatists came to America and established a colony of what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts. Today, those Separatists are referred to as the Pilgrims. Much has happened over the last 400 years, and history books do a very good job of describing this time period. Our look here will cover the last 60 years.
In Green Bay, Pilgrim Congregational Church traces its roots back to Union Congregational Church. In 1948, there occurred one of those events that periodically arise in denominations…the merger of smaller groups to form large denominations. The General Council of the Congregational Churches proposed such a merger with the Evangelical and Reformed churches to form what would become the United Church of Christ (UCC).
Over the next 16 years, the membership of Union Congregational Church would struggle over the decision to join with the UCC. Finally, on January 19, 1964, with the vote 379 to 316 in favor of the merger, the question was settled. Those opposed to this decision took this as an opportunity to look at a different path for their future.
On the night when Union voted to join the UCC, 42 members birthed the idea of organizing a new Congregational church, to be known as Pilgrim Congregational Church. The following Sunday, Pilgrim held its first service at Green Bay’s YWCA. On Covenant Sunday, March 15, 1964, Rev. Earl Page presided over the service with 285 charter members in attendance. The current campus of Pilgrim Congregational Church was purchased in 1965. The first service in our sanctuary was held on April 20, 1969, with Rev. Terry Ragland officiating. Pilgrim has had nine pastors since its birth in 1968; currently serving as ninth settled pastor is Rev. Dr. Mark McAnlis who was called to Pilgrim in November, 2012.
Pilgrim is a “congregational church,” a term which defines how we govern ourselves and what we believe. By governance, we mean that the authority for decision making is found in the collective membership of the church. No one person or group has authority to make church-wide decisions. Each person is invested with individual responsibility to God first and then to each other.
A Congregational Church is a group of people who believe in God and freely make a public confession of the Lordship of Christ in their lives. At Pilgrim, we are a congregation that desires to reach the world with the message of salvation found in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Our mission statement accurately reflects our purpose and desire.