1860 – The first church building was erected at the corner of 8th & Mechanic. It was approximately 24’ X 30’. An addition was built in 1870. It was donated to Sunnyslope farm when it was replaced in 1880.
The Kansas State Normal School (KSN – now Emporia State University) was founded by an act of the Kansas Legislature with the Rev. Morse and other church members doing much of the legwork to get the school started. KSN’s first classes were held in February 1865.
1868 – The Rev. Morse’s pastorate ended. He went on to help plant Congregational Churches in Eureka, Council Grove, Elmdale and Valley Falls. He died in 1870 from injuries sustained in an accident while digging a well. His wife Abigail continued to live in Emporia and served as Dean of Women at the Normal School. She died in 1924.
Second Congregational Church was planted as a daughter church for the Welsh community in Emporia. The name was later changed to Bethany Congregational Church and it was located at the corner of 2nd & Merchant Streets.
1871 – Sardis Congregational Church was planted as a second daughter church for the rural Welsh community, a few miles outside of the city.
1878 – First Congregational Church’s minister, the Rev. O.J. Shannon, was shot and killed accidentally by a member of a state militia that had been sent by the Kansas Governor in response to the great railroad strike. The Rev. Richard Cordleybegan his pastorate. He had been one of the original members of the Andover Bandwho had planted and pastored at Plymouth Congregational Church in Lawrence.
1880 – A new building was constructed at the corner of 8th & Mechanic.
1883 – The Rev. Cordley was one of 25 national representatives (consisting of denominational clergy, seminary faculty, and local clergy) who helped to write the Congregational Churches Creed of 1883.
1884 – The Rev. Cordley ended his pastorate, returning to be Minister in Lawrence at the Plymouth Church. First Congregational Church called the Rev. Frank T. Ingalls (brother of U.S. Senator John J. Ingalls) from a sister church in Atchison, Kansas. He served up to the end of 1887 when he resigned to become President of Drury College in Springfield, Missouri.
1899 – The pastorate of the Rev. Frank G. Ward began. He served almost seven years, and later went on to join the faculty of Chicago Theological Seminary.
1900 – William Allen Whitefounded the “Current Club” as a forum for local leaders and issues, in partnership with the Rev. Ward and Albert R. Taylor, the President of the Kansas State Teachers College (now ESU).
1906 – The pastorate of John H.J. Rice began. Later, the Rev. Rice also served as the local police judge. He served for over 20 years as First Congregational Church's Minister - the second longest pastoral tenure in our church's history.
1910 – A Plymouth Hall addition was completed to the church building at 8th & Mechanic.
1913 – Dr. Thomas W. Butcherand his wife Mary joined First Congregational Church. He went on to serve for 30 years as the President of the Kansas State Teachers College (now ESU).
1914 – William Lindsay Whitejoined First Congregational Church. The rest of the White family joined in 1917.
1921 – Mary White(William Allen White’s daughter) was killed in a horse-riding accident. Her funeral was held at First Congregational Church, with the Rev. Rice officiating. Decades later a nationally-televised movie was made about her life and untimely death.
1926 – Having recently baptized Jack Atherton, the Rev. Rice retired from ministry. He continued to live in town and serve as the local police judge.
1932 – The Rev. George Mitchell began his pastorate. He served through most of the years of the Great Depression.
The tragedy of the Finney bond scandal reached a climax with the suicide of a longtime church member.
1936 – The Rev. Rice died. The Rev. Mitchell officiated at his funeral with William Allen Whitedelivering the eulogy.
1942 – The Rev. Stephen Williams began his pastorate, coming from the Congregational Church in Russell, Kansas. A massive fire destroyed the church building at 8th & Mechanic. The congregation began to hold worship services at the Bethany Congregational Church building at 2nd & Merchant.
1944 – William Allen Whitedied. His funeral was held in Kenyon Hall on the campus of the College of Emporia. His death received widespread coverage in national and international media. The Rev. Williams left the church temporarily to serve as a military chaplain overseas. The Rev. W.A. Redfield filled in as the interim minister.
1946 – The Rev. Williams returned from military chaplaincy and resumed the pastorate. Plans proceeded with a church building fund.
1948 – The cornerstone was dedicated for the current building at the corner of 12th Avenue & State Street. Services were held in the new building beginning in 1950. The church grew exponentially during the church boom years of the 1950’s.
1957 - Life Magazine chronicled a wedding that was performed at First Congregational Church. The photos received national circulation.
1959 - The Rev. Williams suffered a heart attack and took some time away from ministry to recover at home. Dr. Ruth Grob, Professor of Bible at the College of Emporia, filled in until he was able to return to the pulpit.
1962 – In a divided vote, members of the First Congregational Church voted not to join the new United Church of Christ denomination.
1973 – The Morris Chapel was built and dedicated. Located at 13th & State, it has provided a smaller, more intimate worship space.
1974 – The Rev. Williams retired in December, having served the longest pastoral tenure in First Congregational Church’s history (32 years). He was named Minister Emeritus. He was succeeded by the Rev. Robert Graham, who served through the mid-1970s.
1978 – The Rev. Michael Matheny, Sr., began his pastorate.
1981 – The Rev. Williams died. The Rev. Matheny officiated at his funeral.