Henry Tuttle

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The Rev. Henry William Tuttle was pastor of Pilgrim Congregational Church from 1975 to 1985. He succeeded S. Lawrence Johnson, who had held the post for the previous decade.

Tuttle, born in Illinois and raised in upstate New York, was the son and grandson of Congregational ministers. His father, the Rev. William N. Tuttle, eventually became superintendent of the Congregational Christian (after 1957, the United Church of Christ) Conference of Florida. During the Second World War, he served in the U.S. Navy Reserve. He graduated from Emory University in Atlanta and also attended Grinnell College, a historically Congregationalist institution in Iowa. He attained his ministerial degree from the Hartford Theological Seminary in Connecticut and was ordained into the ministry in 1954. His first congregation was in Marlborough, Conn.

After a year there, Tuttle moved to St. Petersburg, Fla. to, in effect, work for his father in starting a new church, Pilgrim Congregational. During the 1950s, the southwestern part of the state along the Gulf Coast grew tremendously due to relocating Northerners, many of whom were Congregationalists in their former locales. This led to the congregation becoming a full-fledged program parish in a very short period of time. Tuttle stayed in St. Petersburg until 1968, when he joined the staff of Miami's prestigious Plymouth Congregational Church.

Tuttle shared pastoral duties in Miami until 1971, when the home missions board of the UCC approached him about taking the reins of the denomination's struggling congregation in Huntsville, Ala. He agreed to serve and spent four years there. One noteworthy achievement during his Huntsville pastorate was that congregation's outstanding material and financial response to the devastation caused by massive tornadoes in northern Alabama on April 3, 1974.

With the Huntsville congregation unable to increase his salary due to high mortgage expenses, Tuttle accepted a call in January 1975 to Birmingham. At Pilgrim Church, he instituted the church's annual Thanksgiving dinner (the Sunday prior) and introduced a series of "theologians in residence," normally college or seminary faculty members who engaged in lectures and conversations with church members and preached during Sunday worship. Also, in 1979 the church purchased and began renting a house in Inglenook to handicapped people, a program that lasted for four years. He served as moderator of the UCC's Southeast Conference, to which Pilgrim Church belongs.

After a decade at Pilgrim Church, Tuttle resigned in 1985 to take the pastorate of Washington, D.C.'s Grace Reformed Church, another UCC congregation. President Theodore Roosevelt worshipped regularly at Grace Reformed during his administration; while pastor there, Tuttle participated in a conservationist initative established by Roosevelt himself.

Tuttle retired in 1993 and returned to the Huntsville area to make his home. He and his wife, the former Jean Bosman, have two daughters and a son and several grandchildren.


  • Feazel, Frances T. (2003) A History of the Pilgrim Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, 1903-2003. self-published by the church.