In 1916, Elder George Mitchell and his brothers gathered and began to pray, asking God for a church home. On the second Sunday in March 1917, Bishop Archibald Henry White, Sr., arrived in Hartford on an appointment from the late Bishop M. L. Tate, to establish a Church of the Living God in this city. Upon his arrival he found Elder George Mitchell, Deacon Charles Mitchell, Brother Arthur Fleeting, Brother Rubin Chaney and their families. It was in the home of Brother Chaney on Canton Street that A. H. White held his first service and the church was organized.
In 1917, at 106 Canton Street, a small storefront building was rented to hold worship services. The Lord blessed and added to the church and many souls were saved.
By 1919, the church was incorporated and given a charter and thus became the first “House of God, which is the Church of the Living God Pillar and Ground of the Truth” in New England. In 1921, the first Assembly was held in Hartford. Many officials from the Churches of the Living God attended this event. At this assembly, Bishop G. F. Giles was appointed pastor of the Hartford church after Bishop White and remained until 1926. During Bishop Giles’ pastorate, a four-family building was purchased. The mid-twenties depression brought many hardships and the church was unable to retain the building. The third pastor of the Hartford church was Elder J. M. Chauncy. Under his leadership, the church moved across the street on Canton Street to a larger, more comfortable building on the first floor.
In the years to follow, several pastors were to serve, namely: Rev. Hawkins, Rev. Meekings, Rev. Willie Thomas and Rev. E. Thomas. There were several years in which the members kept the doors of the church opened. Among these were Elder George Mitchell, the late Rev. Lula Mitchell and family, the late Deacon Charles and Rev. Corrine Mitchell and family, Deaconess Mamie Jordan, Rev. Christine Dyson, Deacon and Sister John Barber, Sr., the late Sister Ada Jackson, the late Rev. Winthrop Huyghue and Deacon Julius Mitchell and family.
In 1937, Rev. Marlon R. Jackson became pastor. He was a young and energetic pastor. Under his pastorate and leadership, the church moved to 52 Suffield Street. During his leadership the church building was renovated.
After Rev. Jackson’s pastorate ended, there followed another succession of pastors, namely: Rev. L. Wimbish, Rev. M. James, Rev. E. Williams, Elder Benjamin Dickerson and Rev. James Webb. It was Rev. Webb who worked very hard on the building fund for the church.
In May 1966, Elder Jesse J. White, Sr. moved to Hartford from Waterbury. In July of the same year, the New England District Assembly convened in Providence, Rhode Island. It was from this assembly that Elder White was appointed pastor of the Hartford church.
The search for a new building and relocation from Suffield Street began and ended with the successful negotiation for purchase of the Mark Twain Masqueraders building located at 14 Lenox Street. The building seemed to meet the immediate needs of the church.
In February 1969, another great and memorable step was finalized with the signing of the deed for this building by the official board: Elder Jesse J. White, Sr., Elder George Mitchell, Deacon Julius Mitchell, Deacon John Barber, Trustee Mack Mitchell and Trustee Edward Mitchell.
It was the vision of our pastor, Elder White (who has since been consecrated to Bishop) that Lenox Street should be a steppingstone. In October 1983, documents were signed by Bishop White giving us possession of 70 Whitney Street in Hartford, CT. In November 1983, after 14 years in the Lenox Street location, Bishop White held dedication ceremonies at this edifice.
Our present facility, located at 70 Whitney Street has ample space, offers many opportunities for Bible learning and educational experiences for the congregation and the community. In October 1985, after months of untiring labor by Sister Mary Oliver Johnson another vision of Bishop Jesse White Sr. was realized – the establishment of the Dyson-Mitchell Memorial Library. The Library was named for our beloved church mother, the late Rev. Christine Dyson and our beloved Elder George Mitchell.
In 1989, Bishop White Sr. along with the Gordon Conwell University in Boston, MA, established the Urban Theological Education Center (UTEC). The school opened at the church in September 1990, which was a vision of Bishop White. In February 1993, our devotional services were reconstructed with a Praise and Worship team under the leadership of Elder Janice Best.
In 1993, Elder Jesse J. White, Jr. was Interim Pastor while our Bishop White Sr. was traveling and working with other churches throughout the United States, and there was a need for Elder Jesse to lead the flock. On July 1994, Elder Jesse J. White, Jr. was installed as Pastor of First Church, here at 70 Whitney Street, Hartford, CT.
Elder Jesse J. White, Jr. founded the nonprofit organization, H.O.P.E. (Helping Other People Excel) C.D.C. (Community Development Corporation) in 1990. Under his leadership, the HOPE CDC has developed effective collaborations with the West End neighborhood of business, civic, religious and educational organizations. The primary purpose of HOPE CDC is to provide programs, activities and services to underprivileged, underserved, at-risk children, adults and families living in Greater Hartford. On December 15, 1995, Praise Dance was introduced and established. In July 2004, Pastor Jesse J. White, Jr. established the First Church of the Living God Publishing Committee.
In October 2019, Elder Jesse J. White Jr. was consecrated as Bishop after 25 years of Pastoring at the First Church of the Living God.
We can appreciate the path which we came, the path of hard knocks and struggles, the teacher of experience, however, it shall be our endeavor to continue to further the cause of humanity, to assist in the needs of the community, to promote the building of our city and to finish the work that is assigned to our hands by God.