The history of Encanto Community Church UCC

Prepared by The Reverend Doctor Gloria J. Smith

The City of Phoenix began to grow rapidly following the Depression era and start of World War II. Phoenix was moving from an area surrounded by agriculture to one that was directly related to military encampments and related industrial supplies. The metropolitan population grew by 63% during the 1940s. This rapid growth resulted in existing mainline churches recommending that denominations needed to support new churches in order to meet the spiritual needs of Phoenicians.

The Reverend Lynd of First Congregational Church United Church of Christ was one of the ministry calling for new parishes to be established north of his current location. Accordingly, on August 15, 1944, a meeting was held in the Encanto Park Clubhouse to determine community interest in a new church. Shortly thereafter, on September 10, 1944, seven charter members established the Encanto Park Community Church. On November 6, 1944, Encanto Park Community Church entered into covenant with the Arizona Association of Congregational Churches and Ministers.

Following World War II, certain building restrictions were being instituted in Phoenix, and the members of Encanto Park Community Church deemed it necessary to move. Consequently, in 1945, the church purchased the Doris Estate (the 1911 Casa de Rosas) through the Congregational Conference of Southern California and the Southwest for $22,000. The main residential building was used to house the chapel as well as the Minister and his family, and it still serves as our current Fellowship Hall.

In May of 1946, the name of the church was simplified to Encanto Community Church and incorporated as such on September 13, 1950. The same year, the parishioners broke ground on building a Sanctuary next to the Parish House. Notably, most of the building was completed by the parishioners themselves because the church could afford the building materials but not all of the labor. By 1960, the Arizona Association of Congregational Churches had ratified the United Church of Christ Constitution, and Encanto Community Church became part of the United Church of Christ.

Seven generations have maintained the ministry and mission of Encanto Community Church. Each generation has decided the best way in which to live out their spiritual mission according to the needs and understanding of the current culture. Each generation stands on the shoulders of their Encanto ancestors. Each generation has the responsibility to learn the mission, vision, and record of ministry that previous ancestors were called to faithfully follow; and, with this knowledge, they must seek clarity as to their call and responsibilities for bringing forth God's creative and fullness of community here on Earth.

This year, we celebrate 75 years of enhancing our relationship with God through Christ and Spirit, so that our worship is authentic and leads us to live an abundant life that serves others outside of the church according to their needs.

It is from the list of "Firsts" found in the history of the United Church of Christ and the "Firsts" that came into existence as a form of ministry at Encanto Community Church, that we find the courage to continue facing new challenges. Each generation is confronted with its own obstacles and challenges to finding holiness and wholeness. What that will be, we do not know, but we will strive to be ready to serve as called by God.

We would be honored if you would join us on Sunday, January 27, 2019, at 2:00 p.m., for our Commemorative Worship Celebration and Celebrative Reception that will follow the service.