Hartford International University Purchases SNEUCC's Hartford Office

Hartford International University Purchases SNEUCC's Hartford Office

Hartford office buildingHARTFORD – Hartford International University for Religion and Peace (HIU) and Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ (SNEUCC) are pleased to announce that HIU has purchased the SNEUCC’s property at 125 Sherman Street in Hartford, a beautiful, stately brick building adjacent to its main campus building. The building was the longtime home of the Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ, which in 2020 joined with the Massachusetts and Rhode Island conferences to form the Southern New England Conference.
Hartford International University plans to use the building as the home of its Howard Thurman Center for Justice and Transformational Ministry. The center, which launched in 2022, is named after a national icon who promoted the idea that out of religious faith emerges social responsibility.
The Howard Thurman Center for Justice and Transformational Ministry is galvanizing activists and visionaries to assume leadership roles in the cause of social justice. It is home to leading Black Church leaders and scholars, including Bishop Dr. Benjamin Watts, Rev. Dr. Cheryl Townsend Gilkes, Rev. Dr. Cleotha Robertson, and Rev. Dr. Walter Earl Fluker.
Building on 40 years of the renowned Black Ministries Program and its 1,000+ graduates, HTC will provide mental health training thus equipping pastors to address the traumas of systemic racism. With leading Black Church scholars on its faculty, the Center will offer an annual Leadership Institute to prepare emerging leaders to run for public office and participate in the democratic process. The Institute for Community Activism will train grassroots organizers to address barriers to equity.
“I am delighted that our Black Ministries Program and our new Howard Thurman Center will now have a home on our campus, a home not only for this work but one for all students to learn together, pray together, dialogue together, and eat together,” said HIU President Joel N. Lohr. “I am deeply grateful for the UCC’s shared vision for the space and for working with us on this project to make it a reality. We have been waiting for this moment!”
Located on a 0.47-acre beautifully landscaped property at a corner adjacent to HIU’s main campus, the building is in a central and easily accessible location. The two-story structure - a total of 4,992 square feet - was constructed in 1953. It will enable HIU to provide: 
  • A large meeting hall – one of the most spacious on campus
  • Café and student lounge open to all HIU students
  • Resource Center to hone the skills needed for church and community engagement
  • A multi-media wall, bringing together students and leaders in the U.S. and worldwide
  • Meeting rooms and classrooms for the Black Ministries Program and the Howard Thurman Center’s social justice offerings
  • Prayer and meditation room
 The building has been under-utilized since the beginning of the pandemic, when the majority of the SNEUCC staff began working remotely and conducting most meetings online. A Property Committee appointed by the SNEUCC’s Board of Directors in 2021 determined that the building was no longer serving the mission of the Conference, and that it should be sold. They worked to find a buyer whose values aligned with those of the Conference.
The SNEUCC has entered an agreement to lease space at the Rocky Hill Congregational Church, which will include six office spaces as well as access to the chapel, fellowship hall and other meeting spaces. The Hartford office was packed up this week for next week's move to Rocky Hill.
“The church is changing before our very eyes and repurposing property for mission will be a significant outgrowth of this forward moving change,” said the Rev. Darrell Goodwin, SNEUCC Executive Conference Minister. “The Conference is modeling the creativity of our local churches who are finding new and innovative ways to bring life and energy to the properties we are stewarding.”
“I am assured that the mission and vision of the Southern New England Conference will be beautifully manifest in HIU’s Howard Thurman Center. This also provides the Conference an opportunity to partner in mission and finances with one of our local churches. We are excited to have one of the Conference offices now at Rocky Hill Congregational Church. We invite your prayers for the continued prayer and discernment of our property committee.”
The Conference also maintains an office in Framingham, Massachusetts, as well as camp and retreat centers in Sharon, CT; Framingham, MA; and Glocester, RI.
Selling the property to HIU is in a way coming full circle. According to the Ecclesiastical History of Connecticut, Volume II, the land was purchased from the Hartford Seminary Foundation in 1950.
The building was designed to house the Conference offices. The cornerstone was laid on April 21, 1953, and the building was dedicated and occupied on Dec. 1, 1953.
For more information about HIU’s Howard Thurman Center and Hartford International University for Religion and Peace, visit hartfordinternational.edu. For more information about the Southern New England Conference, visit www.sneucc.org.
Southern New England Conference staff can still be contacted through the same telephone numbers and email addresses. 
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Toll Free Phone: 866-367-2822
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General Email: friends@sneucc.org