Throop Memorial Church
Our First One Hundred Years 1886-1986
It was on Sunday, April 18, 1886, that Rev. Florence E. Kollock conducted a Universalist service in Williams Hall in Pasadena, and on May 23 the First Universalist Parish of Pasadena was organized with 30 signatures on its membership roll. By 1889 the church organization was complete, and the name First Universalist Church of Pasadena was chosen. The guiding force behind these events was Amos G. Throop, an inspiring, far-seeking businessman transplanted from the midwest.
A permanent church building at the corner of Raymond Avenue and Chestnut Street was dedicated on April 13, 1890. A local newspaper described it as "one of Pasadena's most magnificent public buildings to the service of Almighty God." Rev. E. L. Conger was the pastor, having begun his ministry in 1887.
Amos Throop had provided the money for the church's site and much of the cost of the building. He was more than financially generous. During his years in Pasadena, he provided leadership within the community as well as the church. Polytechnic University was founded by "Father Throop" in 1891 as a place for thoroughly Christian, non-sectarian, liberal and practical education. Through the years the school grew in size and scope to become California Institute of Technology. When Amos Throop died in 1894, his memory was honored by a service whose capacity crowd included California's governor.
Following the resignation in 1893 of Rev. Conger, the pulpit was occupied until mid-1895 by Rev. Florence E. Kollock. From 1895 to 1899 Rev. William M. Jones held the pastorate. These years were busy ones for the church, with meetings of the board and committees, and social functions sponsored by various organizations.
Rev. Ralph E. Connor was minister from 1899 to 1902; Rev. Samuel G. Dunham, 1902 to 1910; Rev. Alan R. Tillinghast, 1911 to 1915.
In the summer of 1915 Pasadena Universalist Church hosted the biennial session of the Universalist General Convention, and in the fall, Rev. Carl F. Henry became pastor.
Construction of a new church building at the northeast corner of Los Robles Avenue and Del Mar Street began in the spring of 1922. The congregation had voted to change the name of their church, and Throop Memorial Church, Universalist dedicated its new church and parish house on Sunday, November 18, 1923. Here the church's many organizations flourished.
Following Dr. Henry's death in January 1929, Dr. Barlow G. Carpenter became Throop's pastor. After Dr. Carpenter's tenure, Dr. Robert Cummins began his ministry in 1933 , with Rev. Kenneth R. Hutchinson serving as Assistant Minister. Dr. Cummins left in 1938 to become General Superintendent of the Universalist denomination. Dr. Charles Clare Blauvelt then assumed the leadership of Throop and continued until 1956.
During World War II a service honor roll reached a total of 49, and women of the church sewed for various war relief and veteran's organizations. Relocated Japanese families were given aid and support by the area's Universalists. During the same period Throop Church was welcomed into the Pasadena Council of Churches.
Following the war years, Throop Church enjoyed increased accomplishments. A professional Director of Religious Education was employed; the after-church Coffee Hour was established; expansion and renovation of the physical plant and grounds took place.
Dr. Blauvelt resigned in 1956, and Dr. Harmon M. Gehr was installed as minister. The church continued active and vital throughout Dr. Gehr's ministry. For example, "Henry House" was built on the church's property to accommodate an expanded religious education program. Beyond local concerns, Throop Church was attuned also to national church movements, and in 1961 the congregation voted to join the newly merged Unitarian Universalist denomination.
Dr. Gehr retired in 1973 from his active ministry, and along with his wife Isabel, our Pastor Emeritus continues in 1986 as an active church member. In 1973 Dr. Robert F. Kaufman became minister, continuing until his retirement in 1985. Those years witnessed a church-wide involvement in community concern and action. During 1985 Throop Church was served by guest ministers and speakers, and for several months enjoyed the ministry of Interim Rev. Minister Diana Heath. Following Rev. Heath, Dr. Laurie P. Holman filled our pulpit for a few months.
In 1986 Norman V. Naylor was installed as minister. As this directory goes to press, Norm, as all Throop pastors before him, is making his own personal statement of commitment and leadership. His wife Pat has, through friendships and active participation, become a most welcome church member.
As Throop Memorial Church, Unitarian Universalist begins its second century, the words of Kenneth Patton regarding the "Church of Tomorrow" seem most appropriate:
"It will be the hub, the center of our life together, weaving the strands of our business into a pattern, a design, a meaning - Uniting us with our companions of the journey, helping us in our pilgrimage along the road between the cities of birth and death."
November 9, 1986
First Universalist Church
Amos G. Throop
Rev. Everett L. Conger 1887 - 1894
Rev. Florence E. Kollock 1894-1895
Rev. Samuel G. Dunham 1902-1910
Rev. Carl F. Henry 1915-1929
Rev. Barlow G. Carpenter 1929-1932
Rev. Robert Cummins 1933-1938
Rev. Charles Clare Blauvelt D.D. 1938-1956
Rev. Harmon Gehr D.D 1956 -1973
Rev. Robert F. Kaufman Ph.D. 1974-1985