Simon’s Says

I was recently astounded to learn that, back in the 1600s and 1700s, Connecticut had the most slaves of any state in New England.  That information came to me via the Witness Stones Project (  The following is from the National Parks Service web page:

“Slavery in Connecticut dated back to the mid-1600s. By the American Revolution, Connecticut had more enslaved Africans than any other state in New England. In 1784 it passed an act of Gradual Abolition. It stated that those children born into slavery after March 1, 1784 would be freed by the time they turned 25. As a result, slavery in Connecticut was practiced until 1848.”

The Witness Stones Project’s mission is to lift up and acknowledge the names and lives of slaves who were held in our state by placing stones, or markers, with their names in places where they lived.  The project was begun in Guilford, CT, in 2017, and currently encompasses the states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.  (The first witness stones laid in RI were laid through the efforts of the Kingston Congregational Church where my friend and colleague The Rev. Jan Gregory-Charpentier serves.)  In Connecticut, thirty-nine communities are involved, most often comprised of a partnership between local schools and other institutions, often a church.  In Chester, both Region 4 schools are involved, John Winthrop and VRHS.  In Old Lyme, the partnership is among the First Congregational Church, Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School, The Florence Griswold Museum and the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library.

Part of the Witness Stone Mission Statement reads, “[Our] goal is to expand the understanding of local history and honor the humanity and the contributions of those formerly enslaved in our community.”  As we look ahead to Juneteenth (June 19), we would do well to pause and remember that the history of slavery is not just something that was limited to the southern states, but here in our own back yards.

This Sunday we’re going to be talking about “Banned Bibles and Books.”  The links to the bulletin and service are found below.

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United Church of Chester, 29 West Main Street, Chester, CT 06412. (860) 526-2697


From the North: Take CT Route 9 South to Exit 8 (old exit 6) (CT 148). Turn left; we are 1 mile on the right.


From the South: Take CT Route 9 North to Exit 8 (old exit 6) (CT 148). Turn Right; we are .8 miles on the right.

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Church Office:

Tuesday - Friday 9-1


Minister's Hours:

Wednesday  - Friday



Mailing Address:  

Post Office Box 383, Chester, CT 06412


Physical Address:  

29 West Main Street, Chester, CT 06412





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