The Congregational Church of Soquel has been a village landmark for nearly a century and a half. The New England-style structure, with its soaring steeple, has been the church home for generations of people since it was organized in 1868.
The church story really begins in 1852, when adventurous newlyweds Joshua and Narcissa Parrish left their home in Ohio to head West. They sailed down the Mississippi River, then across the Gulf of Mexico. When they reached the Isthmus of Panama, Joshua walked across while Narcissa rode on a mule. Again boarding ship, they sailed up the coast to San Francisco and ultimately made their way down to Soquel.
Joshua built a large home on what is now the corner of North Main Street and Parrish Lane and planted wheat and potatoes on the land.
There were no churches in Soquel, so Narcissa invited community women to attend weekly prayer meetings in her home. In 1868, Miss Lulu Hall, a schoolteacher, started a Sunday School in Soquel's one-room schoolhouse. Earlier, her parents, Mr. and Mrs. S.A. Hall, had settled in the village. From the prayer meetings and the Sunday School emerged a "society" that led to the organization of the Congregational Church of Soquel and its ultimate construction in 1870.
Joshua and Narcissa donated the land. S.A. Hall, who had been a New England shipbuilder, designed the building and oversaw construction. His shipbuilding experience can still be seen in the sanctuary floors, which slope slightly from the center aisle down to each side.
The church has seen a number of upheavals. In 1955, Soquel Village was flooded when Soquel Creek overflowed its banks. The church, on higher ground, was used as a temporary shelter for people in need. In 1967, the historic structure was damaged by an arson fire and restored. When Soquel was flooded again in 1982, the church became a temporary fire station.
The 1989 earthquake caused more havoc for the church. The steeple bell was knocked from its mounting, and pieces of the sanctuary's original plaster walls were jarred loose. When the original building was erected, horsehair was used to strengthen the interior plaster, and strands of horsehair could be seen in the chunks that fell off. Other buildings on the campus were damaged, as well.
Surviving to represent the historic village, Congregational Church of Soquel remains dedicated to live its mission statement, a working document by which to envision the church life and ministry:
"We are a Christian Community of individuals, bound by covenant, directly responsible to God. United in love as followers of Christ, we seek a closer walk with Him. While respecting the diversity of peoples and religions in our world, we are dedicated to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Guided by scripture, we practice our faith through worship, fellowship, prayer, and education for all ages. Led by the Holy Spirit, we aspire to serve with compassion those within and beyond our doors. For the gift of God's creation, and for the peace and joy that come from following Christ, we give thanks and rejoice!"