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Hosea Ballou: The Challenge to Orthodoxy, by Ernest Cassara

About the Book

Click here to read Hosea Ballou: The Challenge to Orthodoxy by Ernest Cassara

This book brings to life a remarkable man and a remarkable era. Hosea Ballou – rebel preacher, self-taught theologian – was one of the most influential religious figures of nineteenth-century America.…

The Church in Harvard Square: Introduction


A series of 14 panels was prepared for installation in the narthex (vestibule) of the Meeting House of the First Parish and the First Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts (Unitarian Universalist). Here is an online version of that document which celebrates the history of the Church from the early seventeenth century to the early twentieth century.…

The Church in Harvard Square: 1636-1660 … Beginnings

1636-1660 … Beginnings

A church was gathered in 1633 of which Thomas Hooker was minister, but he and the church moved to Connecticut in 1636… in part, at least, to secure additional land for cattle and crops. The meeting house was the location in 1637 of the trial of Anne Hutchinson who had claimed that most of the ministers of the colony were guilty of unsound teaching and that God spoke to her “by an immediate revelation”.…

The Church in Harvard Square: The Church Gathering

The Church Gathering

In the fall of 1635, there came to Newtowne a new company of settlers under the guidance of Thomas Shepard. They purchased the properties of the Hooker company, who were then preparing to leave for Connecticut. On February 1, 1636, they gathered a new church, as described in detail in the journal of Governor John Winthrop.…

The Church in Harvard Square: The Church And College

The Church And College

Legend for the Cambridge Illustration

  1. The Second Meeting House
  2. Harvard College
  3. House of the Minister Thomas Shepard
  4. Market Square
  5. Creek Lane with road to Watertown
  6. Town Wharf and Ferry Landing
  7. Causeway through the Marsh
  8. The Great Bridge across the Charles
  9. First School House

In 1650, the town voted to repair its meeting house “with a four-square roof covered with shingle.”…

The Church in Harvard Square: Growing with the Community

Growing with the Community

The Third Meeting House replaced the second on the same site in 1706. It was larger than the Second and included a gallery with a tower at one end of the building, as shown in the accompanying panoramic view.…

The Church in Harvard Square: The Eighteenth Century

The Eighteenth Century

Nathaniel Appleton (1693-1784) was minister of the Cambridge church for 67 years, from 1717… until his death. Because of the increase of population, the section of Cambridge known as Menotomy (now Arlington) was given the status of a religious precinct in 1732; the remaining part then became the First Parish.…

The Church in Harvard Square: Move Toward Independence

Move Toward Independence

The Fourth Meeting House was erected in 1756 on land now part of the College Yard, where Lehman Hall stands. The pulpit was in the middle of the long north wall, and most of the floor was divided into box pews.…

The Church in Harvard Square: The Reverend Mr. Holmes

The Reverend Mr. Holmes

Abiel Holmes (1763-1837), a native of Connecticut and a Yale graduate, was installed as minister of the Cambridge church and parish in 1792. A moderate Calvinist, his relationships with the liberal ministers of the Boston area were cordial until late in life when, under pressure from his evangelical colleagues, he adopted a policy of refusing to exchange pulpits with the liberal Christians.…

The Church in Harvard Square: The Great Controversy

The Great Controversy

Abiel Holmes was both minister of the Church of Christ in Cambridge and the “public teacher of piety, religion, and morality” of the First Parish in Cambridge. Unhappily, he lived at a time when it was proving no longer possible to serve acceptably in both capacities.…