The roots of our Federated Church were set when, in 1844, a group of Feltonville citizens asked revivalist Father Hervey Fittz to come out from Boston to hold preaching services at the Felton House, a local hotel. The Meetings continued, with a number of preachers officiating, until the group was large enough in 1851, to build a church known as the Feltonville Baptist Church on the site of the Hudson Boys’ and Girls’ Club. The Rev. L.E. Wakefield was ordained as its first minister. On Jan. 26, 1853, a church bell, brought up on the railroad for the Baptist Meeting House, was raised into place — weight 851 lbs., cost $300. The membership grew rapidly so that during the pastorate of the Rev. W.H. Ventries, a new, larger, and more beautiful edifice was erected on the same site and dedicated, Oct. 23, 1877.
In 1889, a number of Congregationalists living in Hudson, desirous of establishing a church of their own, held a meeting in Enterprise Parlors in the Chase Block. At a second meeting, the seventeen members present decided to organize a Sunday School and secure the help of neighboring Congregationalist ministers for services of worship. The church was formally organized later that same year with the Rev. John C. Hall as the first pastor. In the new Chase Block built soon after the fire of 1894, a hall was made especially adapted to the needs of a church, and to this was given the name of Temple Hall. Here the congregation worshipped until the membership grew large enough so that during the time of the Rev. A.J. Rackcliffe, a church was built at the corner of Central and Green Streets and dedicated Sept. 30, 1902. The building’s normal seating capacity was 280, which could be increased to 400 by means of sliding partitions separating the Sunday School room from the main audience room. It was during the pastorate of the Rev. F.M. Cutler that in 1908 an organ was secured through a gift of $625 from Andrew Carnegie, and in 1911, the mortgage was burned because of a gift of $500 from Boston’s Old South Church.
The Rev. W.F. Low was called in the summer of 1912. His place in the community was a large and influential one. His efforts in connection with the semi-centennial celebration of the town in 1916 were conspicuously successful, and he was one of the charter members of the Hudson Historical Society.
During World War I, the Baptist minister, the Rev. E.I. Hamilton served as chaplain to the United States troops. Meanwhile, the Baptists and Congregationalists worshipped together under the guidance of the Rev. Low. This experiment worked out so well, it seemed a good idea to make the union a permanent one, and so the First Federated Church of Hudson began its existence, June 1, 1918, in the Baptist Church with the Rev. H.B. Francis as pastor.
The Congregational Church became a community house. Bowling alleys were built in the basement, and with the pews removed, the sanctuary became a social hall. In 1927, a group of French families, having migrated from Canada, purchased the once Congregational Church to establish a French parish, Christ-Roi, with the Rev. Francis Lariviere as pastor. Later it was absorbed into St. Michael’s parish and called Christ King.
With the $17,500 received from sale of the Central St. property, much needed improvements were made at the former Baptist Church. In 1928, memorial windows were moved from Christ-Roi and returned to the Federated Church. And so for nearly fifty years the members of the First Federated Church continued to work and worship together in the Church Street home.
Early in the morning of Sept. 23, 1965, the church that had housed the two congregations for so long was badly damaged by fire. Immediately, good neighbors rallied to help. The Unitarians offered their church for services. Sunday School classes were held in the old Hudson Hospital. A committee of townspeople of all faiths was formed to raise money toward a new structure. Soon plans were underway to relocate and rebuild. It was on Palm Sunday, March 19, 1967, that a groundbreaking service conducted by the Rev. Raymond Fiedler was held at 200 Central Street for a new edifice.
The dedication service and first worship service in the new church was held on Palm Sunday, April 7, 1968. Thus began a new chapter in the history of the First Federated Church of Hudson. With a deeper sense of unity and love, and believing that “Faith Unlocks the Door,” the members worked to pay off the mortgage and add a tower to house the bell from the old church. Only seven years after the groundbreaking, indebtedness was erased and a time of celebration was held on April 13, 1975, conducted by the Rev. Harold Aldrin. The note was burned and the members re-dedicated the church and themselves to the ongoing ministry in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
On Sunday, Sept. 20, 1981, another dream was realized as the old bell, housed in its new tower, rang the call to worship. A ceremony was held on the steps after the regular service to celebrate the event.
The church continued to prosper and soon the entrance to the lower level was extended to shut out the cold in the hall, and a new roof protected the meeting hall.
In 1985, the Rev. Harold Aldrin retired. His influence, exuding Christian love, had been felt in the whole community and did much to achieve an ecumenical feeling within the town. He is now Pastor Emeritus.
In 1986, the congregation welcomed the Rev. Richard Monstur as pastor. This energetic young man and his talented family brought new ideas and vigor to the fellowship. Rev. Monstur retired in 2004.
Also, in 1986, the church lost one of its most loyal members when Marguerite Ross died. She bequeathed a large endowment fund to the First Federated Church as well as providing several articles needed in the church and making it possible to donate sums to worthy projects. The interest from the trust has made it possible to build a large addition on the lower level of the southeast corner of the church to house the pastor’s study and a large storage area.
Significant changes were made in 1992, when an elevator for use by the handicapped was installed and a Youth Director was added to the church staff.
This historical summary was compiled by the late Doris Rogers and the late Mildred Coolidge, beloved members of the church.