Letter: Honor Milford founders by protecting historic site

To the Editor:

I serve as Senior Pastor of the First United Church of Christ (Congregational) — a.k.a. First Church — the church that along with its first Pastor, Rev. Peter Prudden, founded Milford.

On behalf of First Church, I urge members of the community to attend the Monday, March 19, Milford Historic Preservation Committee meeting (7 p.m., Milford City Hall) and to speak against the proposed demolition of the 67 Prospect Street Baldwin-Prudden house and building of apartments on our first settlers' burial site.

Whether you believe in the power of God and the sacredness of the burial ground or simply the power of history and of people to live in covenant, then 67 Prospect Street should matter deeply to you.

When Milford's settlers arrived at the Wepawaug, they had to determine how to govern themselves. They built the community on the biblical principle of covenant, the idea that people (and in some cases, God) enter into mutual relationships based on trust, hope and love. It was that Puritan (Congregational) experiment of community covenant, including the early days under Prudden’s leadership, that enabled Milford to thrive and helped form our fledgling nation as a democracy.

Now that the city is addressing plans to demolish the Baldwin-Prudden house and to build apartments over the burial grounds, we are forced to examine how our sense of covenant has been sustained or eroded over the last 379 years. Milford still largely makes up its own rules based on the will of the governed. In a sense, the freedoms that have allowed the plans for 67 Prospect Street to come this far are ironically the result of the work of early settlers who proved the worth of covenantal democracy.

The people who own 67 Prospect Street likely have the natural motive to make a profit on the property. First Church and I wish them well as neighbors. But as a covenantal democracy, where one person's decision can make an impact on the community, we can take ownership of our voices and to speak truth to power in love. The truth is that we enjoy our freedoms in large part due to trailblazers like Rev. Peter Prudden and those who lived alongside him and were buried by him. It's our turn to honor them and their legacy of covenant by urging that 67 Prospect be protected.

Rev. Adam E. Eckhart