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First Parish Congregational Church records

 Collection
Identifier: RG0037

Scope and Contents

Contains the administrative, legal, fiscal, and vital records of the First Parish Congregational Church in Brockton, Massachusetts. The collection includes the meeting minutes of the church and parish, membership records, vital statistics for church members, including baptismal and marriage records, ministerial records, building records, financial records, pew deeds, assessment results, and important legal documents.

Dates

  • 1738-1980

Conditions Governing Access

Access to this collection is unrestricted and open to the public.

Restrictions on Use

Items in this collection are subject to U.S. Copyright Law. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine the copyright status of collection items and to secure any permissions necessary for their reproduction and publication. Requests for permission to publish material must be discussed with the archivist or librarian.

Digital Reproductions are protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use the Digital Reproductions in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. In addition, no permission is required from the Congregational Library & Archives for educational uses. For other uses, you need to obtain permission from the Congregational Library & Archives. For additional information regarding copyright, please consult the Congregational Library & Archives' Digital Collections Copyright & Use policy.

Historical Note

The First Parish Congregational Church in Brockton was originally founded as the Fourth Parish Church in Bridgewater in March, 1737, with the construction of the first meeting house for the community that had formed in Bridgewater's North. In 1738, the community sent a petition to the General Court of Massachusetts to designate the area as a unique parish within Bridgewater. The request was granted in December, 1739 with the formation of the North Precinct of Bridgewater. John Porter, a 1736 graduate of Harvard, was ordained as the first minister of the Fourth Parish Church in October, 1740 at the same time that the church was formally gathered.

Membership within the church grew significantly under Rev. Porter, mimicking the expansion of the community. The expansion of the parish community resulted in the need for a new meeting house; the dedication of the second meeting house, which was twice as large as the first building, was held in December, 1763. Rev. Porter was interested in education and readily helped prepare talented youth for higher education during his ministry. During the American Revolution, Rev. Porter supported the Continental Army by organizing an effort which resulted in the shipment of 5580 pounds of beef to the army. He served as the minister of the church until his death in 1802.

The first parish Sunday school was organized in 1818 with an initial enrolment of 185 students. In 1823 the North Precinct of Bridgewater as incorporated as the town of North Bridgewater. At this time, the name of the church was changed to the First Parish Congregational Church. By the 1820s the second meeting house was beginning to require extensive fixes and renovations to meet the needs of the community. Instead of embarking on those costly renovations, the community found the funds to build the third meeting house, which was dedicated in November, 1827. In 1836 a significant portion of the parish withdrew from the church due to the formation of the South Congregational Church in Plain Village (now Campello) North Bridgewater.

The ordination of Rev. Paul Couch in 1835 resulted in a liberalization of the First Parish's teachings during his 24 years of ministry. This ultimately resulted in another significant portion of the church separating in 1850 to form the Porter Evangelical Congregational Church. Rev. Couch also oversaw construction of the fourth meeting house, also known as the Old Brown Church. This building was dedicated in July, 1854. In 1874 the name of the town of North Bridgewater was changed to Brockton.

During 1897 the fifth meeting house was constructed. This stone building was dedicated in December, 1897 and Rev. Alan Hudson was installed as the minister the same day. The fifth meeting house was largely destroyed in an early morning fire on February 19, 1965. The sixth and final meeting house was constructed in 1967 with the dedication taking place in June. In 1980 the First Parish Congregational Church, South Congregational Church, Porter Congregational Church, and Waldo Congregational Church merged to form the Christ Congregational Church. The Christ Congregational Church in Brockton continues to serve the local community today. The sixth meeting house is now the house of warship for the Mt. Moriah Baptist Church.

Extent

1.92 Cubic Feet (4 boxes, 1 reel)

Language of Materials

English

Overview

The First Parish Congregational Church in Brockton was originally founded as the Fourth Parish Church in Bridgewater in 1737 and formally gathered as such in 1740. The name of the church changed, in 1823, to First Parish Congregational Church to reflect the incorporation of the town of North Bridgewater. In 1827 a portion of the church's membership left to form the South Congregational Church and in 1850 another portion left to form the Porter Evangelical Congregational Church. In 1874 the town of North Bridgewater changed to Brockton. In 1980 the First Parish Congregational Church merged with the South Congregational Church, the Porter Congregational Church, and the Waldo Congregational Church to form the Christ Congregational Church which continues to operate today. This collection contains the administrative, legal, fiscal, and vital records of the church and includes meeting minutes, membership records, building records, and ministerial records.

Arrangement

Materials have been arranged into the two series listed below. Within each series, materials have been arranged in chronological order, by start date, primarily, and by topic secondarily.

Series 1: Church and Parish records, 1738-1980

Series 2: Financial and legal records, 1764-1965

Physical Access

Some materials within the collection have been damaged by exposure to fire. There may be special handling instructions for these materials and/or limited access provided to certain damaged items.

Technical Requirements

A microfilm reader is required in order to access microform materials. One microfilm reader is available to the public upon request.

To access digital user's copies via online-interface, a java-enabled web browser is required. Internet Explorer 8.x and later, Firefox 5.x and later, Opera 12 and later, Safari 5.x and later, or any version of Google Chrome are recommended.

Custodial History

Many of the items within the collection were damaged by a fire in 1965. In response to the damage sustained by the collection due to the fire, the First Parish Congregational Church contracted with F. C. Wiedemann for document preservation.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

While the records are unclear, it appears that this collection is the result of two major deposits. The first deposit, by Rev. James H. O'Brien of the First Parish Congregational Church in Brockton, occured in 1965. That same year some records were microfilmed by the Harvard University Reprographic Services (originally RG1339). In 1980, when the First Parish Congregational Church reformed into the Christ Congregational Church, additional First Parish Congregational Church materials were deposited with the Congregational Library & Archives along with materials from the South, Porter, and Waldo Congregational churches; no accession number.

Accruals

Additional accruals are expected for this collection in the form of full-text transcription. There is no anticipated date for this accrual.

Related Materials

In 1980, the First Parish Congregational, South Congregational, Porter Congregational, and Waldo Congregational Churchs merged into a single entity, the Christ Congregational Church. The records of all four churches are held at the Congregational Library & Archives:

Brockton, Mass. South Congregational Church records, 1835-1979.

Brockton, Mass. Porter Congregational Church, 1800-1979.

Brockton, Mass. Waldo Congregational Church, 1896-1980.

Bibliography

Two Hundred and Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Booklet. Brockton: First Parish Congregational Church, 1962. 17.11.1 B78.33 CHrCC

Processing Information

Originally processed by Sandra Sudak in 1990. Additional descriptions by Jessica Steytler in 2002 and 2006. Fully reprocessed and redescribed by Zachary Bodnar, March 2019, using DACS Second Edition.
Title
First Parish Congregational Church records
Status
Completed
Author
Zachary Bodnar, Jessica Steytler, Sandra Sudak
Date
2019-03-07
Description rules
Dacs2 2013
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the deneme Repository

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