PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL: If this were a hill town, the Congregational Church would have pride of place on the town green, but this is a mill town, planned and built by industrial entrepreneurs, proud to have a stake in building a local economy. In 1845 the Congregational Church was the last religious body to join the community of faiths gathered by Sheldon Smith and Anson Phelps to the Green.
Across the Green, Elizabeth Street runs parallel to Minerva. Since 1845 the Classical democratic temple of the Congregational Society of Birmingham on Elizabeth Street and the crenelated spiritual fortress of St. James Episcopal on Elizabeth have stared across the Green as if in eternal dialogue.
Birmingham was famous for the production of pianos and organs. It isn't surprising to discover that music had an important role in the service here.
"In the early history of the [Birmingham Congregational] church the music was vocal and instrumental. At one time the latter consisted of a bass-viol, two violins and a flute. In 1856 an organ displaced these instruments. In 1871 the pulpit was removed from the recess at the west end of the church and the organ transferred from the gallery to it, and a movable platform with a neat plain desk substituted for a pulpit, occupying a few feet in front of the former. With this change the gallery choir was abandoned and singing was congregational, led by a precentor, the organ being accompanied by a flute. In 1874 an orchestra was added and has continued to the present time, mostly without a precentor.
"This church has been harmonious and prosperous, and now numbers 221 members."
1880, from The History of the Old Town of Derby , 1642-1880 Orcutt/Beardsley