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© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Call No.: bMS 729
Repository: Andover-Harvard Theological Library, Harvard Divinity School, Harvard University
Creator: First Congregational Society (Jamaica Plain, Boston, Mass.)
Title: First Congregational Society (Jamaica Plain, Boston, Mass.). Records, 1770-1837.
Quantity: 1 boxes
Abstract: This collection consists of the early church administrative records of the First Congregational Society (Unitarian) in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.
This religious society was organized in the colonial town of Roxbury to meet the needs of the growing settlement on the "Pond Plain." Roxbury at the time extended to the Dedham line, and this new "Third Parish in Roxbury" was carved out of the two existing parishes, Second Parish to the west and the original First Parish to the east, with its church on Fort Hill. In colonial Massachusetts (which had been founded as a Puritan theocracy), setting parish boundaries also defined the precinct that became known as the community of Jamaica Plain. This church was the first and only congregational church in Jamaica Plain until 1841. During this time, especially during the able pastorate of the Reverend Thomas Gray (who served 50 years), the congregation grew and was not disturbed by the Unitarian controversy that split so many congregations descended from the old Puritan order. By the end of his ministry, the Reverend Gray was referring to his church as "the Unitarian Church in Jamaica Plain." In 1851, upper Roxbury seceded to form the Town of West Roxbury with its downtown in the more populous Jamaica Plain, and in 1853, the wooden church building was replaced by today's stone church facing Town Hall (Curtis Hall).
This is a small collection of early church administrative records. They include letters from other churches which announce the appointment of their ministers; letters concerning pulpit exchanges; several letters of dismissal for families to attend other churches, and requests for contributions for families who were displaced by a town fire.