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“The Church and the Parish in Massachusetts,” by George E. Ellis

“The Church and the Parish in Massachusetts: Usage and Law”

George E. Ellis

in Unitarianism: Its Origin and History

(American Unitarian Association, 189C)

George Edward Ellis

George Edward Ellis
Courtesy of Andover-Harvard Theological Library, Harvard Divinity School

George Ellis (1814-94), ordained in 1840, was for 30 years minister in Charlestown, Massachusetts. He was a frequent contributor to AUA publications and a student of the “Unitarian Controversy.”

This edited version of his lecture, originally given in Dedham, in 1888, is generally credited with allowing the Unitarians “to inherit” a denomination.

The unedited text demonstrates even more than what is included, the bitterness caused by the Dedham Decision.

  1. What arguments could be advanced for both the parish and the church?
  2. Can Unitarians today defend a decision which chose often religiously uncommitted “property holders” over those who carried on the work of the church as important in their lives?
  3. What attitudes in contemporary thought are drawn down from Dedham? What practices seem-to result from a decision that “gave” churches to the Unitarians?

The full text is available via Google Books. For the relevant excerpt, see here: “The Church and the Parish in Massachusetts: Usage and Law.”

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