In the beginning…
In August 1960, Bob and Agnes Hampton ran a notice in the Anchorage newspaper seeking people interested in forming a church in the Congregational Way. At about the same time they also made the acquaintance of Dr. Howell Davies, then Secretary-Treasurer of the Mission Board of the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches. Dr. Davies had been granted $1,000 by his former church in Wawatosa, Wisconsin, to go to Alaska to see about establishing a new church. Dr. Davies came with his wife to Metlakatla and to Anchorage where they met on August 14th with the founding group of five individuals. Three days later on August 17th First Congregational officially became a church and founding members Bob Hampton and Carol Tisdel were elected moderator and secretary, respectively.
Gifts began to arrive from Sunday school children in Spencer, Iowa, and a Fellowship Guild in Beloit, Wisconsin. In addition, gifts were received from Cheyenne, Wyoming, the Church of the Messiah in Los Angeles, and from many other churches in the association totaling thousands of dollars.
This generosity enabled the small group to grow…
… and a year later in 1961 they called their first minister, the Rev. Gerry Churchill, from Redlands, California. Rev. Churchill served until 1964. During his tenure, Rev. Churchill helped prepare the way for the building of a permanent church home.
In 1965 the church called Rev. David Carmen who saw it through its building phase. Building was completed by many volunteers including a number of Congregational youth from around the country. It was completed in 1967, and Rev. Dr. Howard Conn gave the first sermon. Rev. Carmen remained until 1969.
In 1970 the Rev. Gerry Churchill returned to the pulpit where he remained until 1975 when Rev. Don Lindsay became the senior minister.
In the early morning hours of August 1, 1982, Rev. Lindsay and his family were awakened to the sounds of fire in the church next door to their home in the parsonage. Speculation is that a discarded cigarette smoldering for many hours used all the oxygen in the building until the building imploded and burst into flames. The building was nearly a complete loss. Rev. Lindsay conducted services the following morning from the back of a truck in the parking lot of the still smoking building.
It was unanimously agreed to rebuild, making the new building a bit bigger to accommodate Sunday school classrooms downstairs and enlarging the worship space. The building was completed in 1983. Rev. Lindsay retired in 1985.
The Rev. Elizabeth Bingham came to the church in 1987 and served until 1992, when she was called as Sr. Minister for Pilgrim Congregational Church in Pomona, California.
She was followed by the Revs. Rick and Mary Koch who came in the summer of 1994 to share the senior minister position. In 2005 the Revs. Koch left to pursue other opportunities – Rick in the Alaska National Guard and Mary with Providence Hospital as a chaplain.
Rev. Mark E. Long was called to First Congregational Church in January of 2006 and served through June 2010.
In February 2011, members called Rev. George Edward Blair III to be Senior Minister. Rev. Blair began his ministry in the church in July 2011 and served until April 2016.
Rev. Johnathan Jones came to the church as the Interim Senior Minister, leading the congregation through the transition from July 2016 through July 2017 as they searched for a senior minister.
In July 2017, Rev. Jacob Poindexter was called as the senior minister and served until February 2022, when he was called to Wichita UCC; a return to his home state of Kansas and close to family.
Through the years the congregation has remained around 100-150 members, and there are a few of the early members still attending the church. First Congregational Church is active in the community, providing support to many of the charitable programs in Anchorage and around the world.