Howard Congregational Church was organized in 1876. It was an outgrowth of the educational and religious activities of the American Missionary Association of the Congregational Denomination. This Association, working through the Freedman’s Bureau established schools and churches designed to aid in the adjustment and growth of the newly freed slaves. Also, the Bureau was active in the total program of reconstruction following the War between the States.
The Church bears the name of General Oliver O. Howard, a general in the United States Army. General Howard was appointed by President Abraham Lincoln as Commissioner of the Freedman’s Bureau. General Howard was instrumental in obtaining funds with which to build a Chapel for the newly established school, Fisk University. The Chapel was named in his honor. This Chapel, while for the general use of the school, was also used as a place of worship by the established Fisk Union Church. A community group that was developed by activities associated with the School, was granted permission to use the Chapel for its religious worship.
Following the construction of Jubilee Hall on the Fisk campus, the Fisk Union Church moved out of the Howard Chapel leaving it vacant. The American Missionary Association commissioned Reverend George Moore, a Fisk graduate, to preach at the Chapel. Reverend Moore and the community group that was worshiping there found a mutual relationship that eventuated in the organization of a church. This church continued to carry the name of General Howard when it joined the Congregational Association of Churches. In 1961, by a vote of the Howard Church congregation, this church became a part of the United Church of Christ.
The United Church of Christ was formed in 1957 by the union of four denominations Congregational, Christian, Evangelical and Reformed. These denominations bore similar missions and concluded that in union they could be more productive in carrying out their goals. This union, however, was unique in that it permitted each church to continue its historical heritage.
Howard Church continues its Congregational educational and religious heritage and mission with greater effectiveness made possible through this union.