Plymouth Congregational Church celebrates historic, 100-year-old sanctuary in Grove

Inside the sanctuary as people meet with the pastor.

Plymouth Congregational Church will host a special Wedding Sunday service as part of a celebration of its historic 100-year-old sanctuary and is inviting those married at the church to return to the Coconut Grove landmark to worship with the congregation.

The service will take place at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 12, two days before Valentine’s Day. Senior Pastor Al Bunis is looking forward to this special day.

“For over a century, we’ve married couples in this sacred, beautiful and inspirational space where we worship the Lord each Sunday,” Rev. Bunis said. “On Wedding Sunday, we’re excited to welcome, bless and honor those who have celebrated their love here at Plymouth.”

Plymouth Congregational Church is located at 3400 Devon Rd. in Coconut Grove. The limestone, mission-style sanctuary built in 1917 was designed by New York architect Clinton Mackenzie and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The church’s original location was on McFarlane Road, where it was founded in 1897 as Union Congregational Church.

“While this year marks the 100th anniversary of our sanctuary, this year also marks the 120th anniversary of Plymouth Church,” Rev. Bunis said. “I would note that this is our third time celebrating a Wedding Sunday. We did one on Plymouth Church’s 90th and 100th anniversaries.

Inside the sanctuary as people meet with the pastor.
Inside the sanctuary as people meet with the pastor.

“This Wedding Sunday is specifically tied to the 100th anniversary of our sanctuary. It’s the place where the people of Plymouth come together and worship so we can then go and live out our faith, whether it’s in fellowship with other people or in serving other people.”

Patterned after an old city mission church in Mexico, the original sanctuary was built by Felix Rebom, a Spaniard, and his assistant. Their only tools were a hatchet, a trowel, a plumb line and a T-square. The sanctuary was expanded in 1955.

Plymouth Church’s history is intertwined with that of Miami and especially early Coconut Grove. Its former pastors include Solomon Merrick, father of George Merrick. George Merrick, founder of the City of Coral Gables, served as chair of Plymouth’s board of trustees and was instrumental in purchasing the land the sanctuary now sits on. The Plymouth campus is home to the first schoolhouse of Coconut Grove, also listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and includes the former homes of two U.S. Navy admirals.

Rev. Bunis has served as Senior Pastor at Plymouth since November 2014. He and his wife, Lynn, came from Brooklyn and love the area. The beautiful sanctuary and grounds have a special warmth and welcoming feeling.

“What we’ve found here is that the people of Plymouth, especially the people who have been here a long time, value the history of the church, and not just the beauty of it,” Rev. Bunis said. “But, the beauty of our campus warms people’s hearts and makes them feel like they’re in a special place with God, with Christ, on Sunday.”

At the Wedding Sunday service on Feb. 12, couples from many decades will be recognized and honored. The “reunion” promises to be something special.

“We have some people who were married here in the 1950s who will be here that Sunday,” Rev. Bunis said. “Many people who are not members of the church were married here, and we are reaching out to them and inviting them back.”

Plymouth’s celebration of its sanctuary centennial will culminate on Sunday, Apr. 30. For information call 305-444-6521.

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