by Drew Page
|The 5th CT Regiment prepares to fire|
|"Doctor" Dan Newman displays medical instruments|
|The 5th CT Regiment and His Magesty's 54th Foote|
KENSINGTON (6/21/2012) - Kensington Congregational Church will celebrate its 300th anniversary this coming December. The church, an offshoot of First Congregational Church of Farmington, first gathered on December 10, 1712. The congregation has planned monthly events to celebrate their tri-centennial. On Saturday, June 17th, Kensington marked the event with cannon fire and colonial costumes.
The cannon fire was part of a Revolutionary War encampment held on church grounds. Members of the 5th Connecticut Regiment, a continental army re-enactment group, and their counterparts, His Majesty's 54th Regiment of Foote, set up their camps on opposite sides of the church yard. Complete with period tents, camp fires, muskets, and even a wooden coffin, the two groups entertained and educated church members and the general public in many aspects of 18th century life. Dan Newman, a doctor for the 54th, displayed his instruments and apothecary in a replica surgeon's cabinet. A registered nurse in the present day, Newman shared his knowledge of 18th century techniques for amputations, balancing of the four humors, and some unpleasant methods for curing constipation. Several women explained the proper attire of the colonial period as well. Children's activities included making tin punch designs and a chance to drill with the soldiers. Tours of the historic church and its Civil War monument were also available. The day finished with a battle filled with shouted commands and musket fire. In the end, the colonials were successful in driving the king's men from the battle field.
The historical focus of Kensington's tri-centennial began early in 2012 with a pot luck dinner and historical program. In February, church artifacts were displayed at the Peck Memorial Library in town. In March, members of the church participated in a historical skit during Sunday service. Written by local librarian Kathy Nelsen, the play brought to life the history of the church from its first minister, Reverend William Burnham, who led those families who first separated from Farmington to establish the Second Church of Farmington, to the recent purchase of the adjacent Mangan house, which is now the Youth Center.
"The skit was a great event because it really educated the congregation about our history," said Christian Education Director Gwen McCann. "The church is really steeped in history, and we're proud of it."
Kensington's pride in its heritage is evident in the historical information available on the church website (www.kensingtoncong.org). A click on the "Our History" link reveals a large graphic illustrating the ancestral tree of over twenty congregations originating from Farmington. A narrative by Beth Stowell explains the original settlement of Kensington, including the origin of the church's 18th century nickname, the Great Swamp Church. Stowell, a local teacher and self-described history buff, led guests on a historical tour of the church and its war monument on Saturday.
Kensington's 300th celebrations continue with a trip to Boston in July including a tour of the Old North Church, an old fashioned church picnic in September, a reunion service at First Congregational Church of Farmington in October, and a celebration service and reception in December. The anniversary will culminate with a special dinner at the Shuttle Meadow Country club on December 12.
Drew Page is Media Assistant for the Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ.