Haverhill, Mass. First Congregational Church

Church History

First Congregational Church was organized in 1939, though its history dates back to the First Parish Church of Haverhill first gathered on October 24, 1645. Rev. John Ward was the first minister of the First Parish. In 1832, the First Parish congregation split over issues of doctrine and piety. First Parish became a Unitarian Church and those that left formed Centre Congregational Church in 1833. North Congregational Church split from Centre Congregational Church in 1859 and built a new church building that would come to be the First Congregational Church in the future. In the early 20th century Rev. James S. Williamson proposed Tiffany Windows as memorials. The first window called "The Ascension" placed over the altar was given by the Women's Guild in 1904. In 1939 the Centre Congregational joined the North Congregational Church and the name was changed to the First Congregational Church. In 1963 the North Parish Church joined with First Congregational Church and in 1964, the First Congregational Church joined the United Church of Christ. After years of diminishing membership, the First Congregational Church sold its 1859 building while continuing worship services with an interim pastor through August of 2010 when First Congregational Church as it was known closed. The remaining members deliberated on the future of the church and determined to part ways. The two groups split the proceeds of the sale of the church; one donated the proceeds to area Congregational Churches and non-profit organizations, the other plans to build a new progressive UCC congregation in Haverhill in the future.

These materials are only part of a much larger collection documenting the history of First Congregational Church. Please see the finding aid for more detail.

 

Digital Materials

Account book, 1748-1750

This book lists the accounts of Rev. Edward Barnard. Many of the entries in the ledger are paired with an entry on the following page- accounts paid with cash or in-kind.

Deacon White’s accounts, 1732-1738

This two page document contains information on parish expenses, tax rates, and meeting minutes.

List of Presents, 1752-1756

Kept by Rev. Edward Barnard, this booklet contains a list of presents, mostly foodstuffs, received by Rev. Barnard as part of his salary, official or otherwise.

Disciplinary cases

This section contains records of disciplinary cases in Haverhill dating from 1726-1739. During the colonial period, the local church often functioned as the legal authority in matters of morality. Punishment in such cases usually consisted of censure — a temporary restriction from attending services and participating in church business — until the guilty party made a formal confession or request for forgiveness.

Personal records

Here you will find relations from First parish Church of Haverhill members, dating from 1719-1742. Relations are written accounts of individuals' religious experience, often required in the process of applying for full membership. This collection contains approximately 500 such documents, many in the congregants' own handwriting. It also includes related membership records, such as letters of transfer to and from other churches, requests for baptism, and confessions of sins written in order to return to the good graces of the church.

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