Church History

Wildermere Beach Congregational Church  by Virginia Novak Kelsey   The Wildermere Beach Congregational Church dates back to 1895, at which time it was a community meeting place for religious and legal meetings. In 1923 it became the Walnut Beach Union Chapel Society, Inc. In 1943 it was accepted into membership of the Connecticut Conference of Congregational Churches and later changed its name to Wildermere Beach Congregational Church.

Currently, WBCC is included with The United Church of Christ denomination. The original structure was simply the "meeting house" building, but in 1924 a kitchen was constructed with a furnace room in between. The furnace room also was used as a Sunday School teaching area along with the church proper. In the late 1940's a raised ranch style parsonage was built next to the church. This was one of the first raised ranch style homes in the area. In 1950 an addition was erected to the church creating a parish hall. In 1967 a building program was instituted for another addition. The addition was finished in 1968 and added a small chapel, a congregational living room and a church school nursery on the first floor, an office and pastor's study on the second floor.

During the early years of WBCC the church was served by visiting pastors and students from Yale Divinity School. One of the earliest preachers was The Reverend Howard C. Meserve who later became Head Librarian of the Taylor Library, in the building housing the Chamber of Commerce in Milford center.  The Wildermere Beach Congregational Church has always been community involved. The Good Shepherd Day Care Center had its birth at this church as a church-related outreach program.

The original Board of Directors were all members and friends of the church. For the first years it was entirely supported by church donations and volunteer staff, but the need was greater for a full time center and it became state-funded and remained meeting at the church until the child population became too great for the size of the building. The Good Shepherd Day Care Center now operates from St. Peter's Episcopal Church school building, with a branch at the East Shore. For several years the church provided free Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for anyone who wished to attend. This ministry became a part of the outreach of the Berean Assembly of God Church on New Haven Avenue in later years. 

The Wildermere Beach Congregational Church is proud of its history as part of the community both as a Christian organization and its association with many of the secular functions. Currently meeting in our Parish Hall are an Alcoholics Anonymous Chapter and The Wildermere Beach Neighborhood Association. 

  • Reference-  Kelsey, Virginia. 2004. Sand In Our Shoes: A Narrative and Pictorial History of Walnut Beach – Myrtle Beach, Milford Connecticut. 1st Edition. Photo Restoration & Design. P382-84.

Church Leaders

1895  Visiting pastors from neighboring towns   

1905-1928  Reverend Howard Meserve   

Nov. 1928 - June 1929  Reverend Paul Keckley 

June 1929 - Oct. 1929  Reverend Donald Salmon   

Oct. 1929 - Aug. 1930  Reverend C. G. Christensen   

Aug 1930 - Dec. 1930  Reverend J.E. Walters   

Dec. 1930 - June 1932  Reverend F. B . Loper   

June 1932 - May 1934  Reverend Walter Moore   

May 1934 - May 1936  Reverend Curtiss Jones   

June 1936 - Sept. 1936  Reverend William Henderson   

Sept. 1936-1937  Reverend Russell Compton   

Sept. 1937 - April 1937  Reverend Howard Mumnia   

April 1937 - Oct. 1937  Student Pastors from Yale Divinity School

Oct. 1937 - Jan. 1941  Reverend William West   

Jan. 1941 - June 1941  Reverend E. C. Rowand   

June 1941 - Sept. 1943  Reverend Bryan Eshelman   

Sept.1943 - May 1944  Reverend Avery Lee   

June 1944 - Aug. 1945  Reverend E. Weldon Keckley   

Sept. 1945 - Jan. 1946  Supply Pastors   

1945-1951  Reverend William Knox   

Oct. 1951 - April 1952  Dr. Warren W. Pickett   

1952-1955  Reverend Howard 0. Steams, Jr.   

Sept. 1955 - June 1958  Reverend William B. Bradshaw   

Summer 1958  Reverend Robert Watson   

Aug. 1958 - Jan. 1959  Candidates   

1959-March 1964  Reverend Elmer Patterson   

April 1964 - Aug. 1964  Reverend John Smith   

Sept. 1964 - June 1973  Reverend Robert H. Anderson   

June 1973 - August 1973  Supply Pastors  

Sept. 1973 - June 1974  William C. Matthews   

June 1974 - 1985  Reverend Hartford C. Inlow   

Aug. 1985 - June 1986  Reverend L. Randall Thompson  

Aug. 1986 - Jan. 1993  Reverend Douglas P Lyon   

1993-1995  Reverend David Colton (Interim)   

1995-1996  Supply Preachers   

Sept. 1996 - Aug. 2001  Reverend Arthur F. White    

2001-April 2012 Rev. John B. Thursby

June 2012-Present Rev. L.  Kenneth Fellenbaum