Our Story

The Church of Etna & Hanover Center is a life-giving, Christ-centered church in the Upper Valley of New Hampshire and Vermont where we help people move toward God.

We are an interdenominational church family here in and for the villages of Etna and Hanover Center. Our “yoked” church is a partnership between the First Congregational Church (est. 1768) in Hanover Center and the First Baptist Church (est. 1791) in Etna. The histories of these two churches are, on their own, rich and insightful.  But those are stories for another time. For now, we pick up these two stories where they began to come together.

Two churches, one pastor.

In 1965, the full time ministers at both the Baptist church and the Congregational church had retired. Being unable to hire another full time pastor, the two churches began a conversation  together about hiring one full time pastor who would split his duties up between the two congregations and two worship services. The pastor would lead worship and preach at 9am in Hanover Center and at 11am in Etna. Borrowing from agricultural metaphor, the cooperative agreement was called a "yoke" and it went into effect by the end of 1965. The yoke remained unchanged until 1990.

Two churches, one service.

In 1990, in response to declining attendance, both churches voted to revitalize their worship services by combining them into a single worship service. In addition to combining worship services, they also agreed to rotate the location of the service between the two, historic church buildings. During the school year (September through June) the service would be hosted by the church in Etna. During the summer months (July through August) the service would be hosted by the church in Hanover Center. The yoke was amended and the new, combined worship service did, in fact, revitalize the attendance from both congregations.

But something began to happen that neither of the two churches could have anticipated.

Two churches, one story.

By combining the worship services of two separate denominational churches, a new kind of church began to emerge. The worship service no longer bore the mark of any one denomination but of the two together. As a result, people from various other traditional and non-traditional church backgrounds came and found that there was room for them here as well. Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists, Congregationalists, Baptists, Pentecostals, Episcopalians, Catholic, all of them came and found a home in this broadly liturgical church family.

What word could describe this new kind of church family? After almost 60 years with one pastor and over 30 of those years with one worship service, we have become more than just two yoked churches. We have truly become an interdenominational church family.

Interested in how that works out theologically? Take a look at our statement of beliefs.
Interested in seeing how that works out practically? The best way is to join us on a Sunday morning!
Pictured above, a presentation from our annual community talent show.