Evening Ceremony Celebrates Asylum Hill Congregational Church on Its Centennial

03/21/1965 |

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An evening ceremony celebrated the centennial of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, and it featured three speakers:

  • John Dempsey, governor of Connecticut, spoke about racial justice and the prospects for expanding the power of the State Civil Rights Commission, and he contrasted Connecticut against Alabama.
  • Frederick U. Conrad, Jr., member of the church’s board of deacons, spoke about the church’s decision to remain in Hartford rather than move out to the suburbs.
  • Frederick T. Fenn, also a member of the board of deacons, described the church’s plans for the future, which would revolve around efforts to recruit more members from Hartford generally and Asylum Hill specifically.

Trust but Verify

It seems a safe assumption that the Courant described the speakers in the order in which they spoke, plus the governor almost certainly would have went first in any event.

Put into context

I’m a cynic, sure, but I’m still not surprised Dempsey spoke at length about politics or that he lobbied the people in attendance to support his civil rights legislation.  It is worth noting, however, that the March on Selma had just concluded the day before this ceremony, and it seems entirely appropriate that he would talk about Alabama.  While he certainly thought that Connecticut was doing better on civil rights than Alabama, he did not shy away from pointing out that some of the ideas he proposed today had been in a bill that the General Assembly had rejected in 1963.

Speculating without facts

The two deacons, both Freds, focused on AHCC, but both spoke about the church’s presence in Asylum Hill.  While it seems more likely than not that they stuck with their prepared remarks, Dempsey’s focus on civil rights shifts the context in which Conard’s and Fenn’s comments should be viewed.  AHCC was located in Asylum Hill (Conard), but it clearly felt disconnected from it (Fenn).  It can’t be surprising then that AHCC chose to open its second century with a focus on outreach in the neighborhood.

Sources

Unattributed, “Dempsey talks on rights at church's centennial,” Hartford Courant, March 22, 1965, page 1.

Asylum Hill Congregational Church
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