Newton, Massachusetts. Central Congregational Church. Records, 1868-2003

Collection Information
Title:

Central Congregational Church (Newton, Mass.) records

Creator(s):

Central Congregational Church (Newton, Mass.)

Dates:

1868-2003

Extent:

10 linear feet, 36 boxes

Collection ID #:

RG 4680

Conditions Governing Access:

None

Copyright: Preferred Citation:

[Identification of item], in the Central Congregational Church (Newton, Mass.) records, RG 4680. The Congregational Library and Archive, Boston, MA.

Language:

English

Processing information:

Processed by Jessica Steytler, 2003

Acquisition Information:

Donated to the Congregational Library by the church after it closed in 2002.

Introduction

The Central Church in Newton closed its doors for the last time in December 2002 after several years of struggle. Membership started to decline after the 1940s, following the trend in this region for a smaller family. Central could not maintain membership necessary to keep the church running, so decided to close before their endowment was exhausted. The remaining members of the church decided to donate their records to the Congregational Library. Kenneth Frail was the church's representative in the transfer.

 

Timeline

1868 Church organized, Chapel opened at Washington and Court Streets
1870s-1930s  Church building continually expands
1888 Howe Young People’s Society organized
1899 Church incorporated
1905 Central Club organized
1911 Three separate organizations join to form the Woman’s Association
1912 Central Guild Organized
1920 Free-pew and voluntary contribution system adopted, Parsonage dedicated
1948 Church approves national merger of the Congregational Christian with Evangelical and Reformed Church to form the United Church of Christ (not officially formed until 1957)
1960 UCC constitution approved of by church
1971 Cooperative with Newtonville Methodist Church begins; Central membership is approximately 380. Its peak in the 1940s was 1000
1975 Parsonage is sold. Minister emeritus Randolph Merrill dies.
1976 Church faced deficit between $5,000 and $10,000 dollars due to decline in membership, and cuts down teaching role to Andover-Newton students
1980 Pastor William Tolley lead church in sponsoring two Vietnamese refugee families under the flag of helping end world hunger. Also, a task force to improve the building failed to push through.
1982 Church continued to solve its membership problem with Harvard professor Donald Oliver, who facilitated a survey to determine the community’s needs.
1985 Mary Lou Roadman acts as first female moderator in church’s history. The church was involved in peace activism, particularly targeting Ethiopia, U.S.S.R., and Nicaragua
1987 Task force on church growth and community dissolved after eight years
1991 New efforts were made to assess church needs and direction explored through a questionnaire
1994 The church revived its teaching status as a parish by supporting students from Andover-Newton again.
1990s Financial and membership problems continue
1999 Sunday school closed due to too few students
2001 Task force on the future of the church determined the church will have to close. The task force recommended consolidation with the other Congregational churches in Newton. However this recommendation was abandoned in 2002 when no one church could be agreed upon by the majority of the community.
2002 The task force on selling the building accepted the Boston Chinese Evangelical Church’s offer of $2,500,000 for the building, including the stained glass windows and organ.
2003 January 12 was the final service for the church

This material was taken from pamphlets in Series VI, Box 32, folder 8. Refer to those items for a more complete timeline.

 

Ministers

Joseph B. Clark 1868-1873
James R. Danforth 1873-1874
E. Frank Howe 1876-1882
Frank W. Gunsaulus 1883-1885
Pleasant Hunter, Jr. 1886-1889
David H. Taylor 1890
John M. Dutton 1892-1899
Ozora S. Davis 1900-1904
Jay T. Stocking 1905-1914
Abraham J. Muste 1915-1918
McIlyar H. Lichiter 1919-1924
Arthur M. Ellis 1924-1931
Randolph S. Merrill 1931-1956
Benjamin R. Andrews, Jr. 1956-1962
Robert J. Harding 1963-1973
Baldwin Callihan (interim)  
Ernest Heeren 1973-1977
Robert C. Senior (interim)  
William Tolley 1978-1991
Joan M. Haner 1991-1993
Robert Melhorn 1993-1998
Ann Suzedell (interim)  
Jeffrey Belcher 1998-2001
Joan Haner (interim) 2001-2003

 

Scope and Content

Series I: Church Records, 1868-2003
This series includes committee minutes, annual minutes, by-laws, constitution, covenant of faith correspondence, financial, and building records. Many, especially earlier records, have all the afore mentioned types of records together in chronological order.

Series II: Membership, 1868-2002
This series includes baptisms, deaths, marriages, admission, and dismission in registries. There is also a comprehensive membership index file organized by last name. The baptism index is much less comprehensive. Researchers should check the registries first.

Series III: Ministers, 1883-2001
All files about all ministers, including interim, are here in alphabetical order. Not all ministers have files. There are also some files from pulpit search committees. This series also includes sermons

Series IV: Auxiliary and Social Groups - Includes Sunday School, 1869-2002
The most complete set of records for the Auxiliary groups is the Woman’s Association and its antecedents. Copies of the annual reports are included, although they are frequently found with the church’s annual report as well. The women’s groups are grouped together, sub-divided and in chronological order within the sub-divisions. Besides, the Woman’s Association, this series includes the Sunday school, music-related files, some Central Guild, and the Spiritual Life records. These records are listed first and in alphabetical order.

Series V: Newsletter, 1932-2002
The Courier was the Central Church’s newsletter. A copy of each issue was kept and is in chronological order.

Series VI: History, 1880-2002
While the documents in this series covers the years back to the founding of the church, the oldest document is from 1880. Included in the series are photographs, programs from events, orders of service, anniversary celebrations, histories of the church, biographies of some members, clippings, a list of World War II servicemen, and two folders about helping displaced persons in the 1950s and 1970s.

 

Box List

Series I: Church Records

Box 1
1-3 Church Records, bound volumes 1868-1885, 1868-1886, 1886-1899
Box 2
1-2 Congregational Society 1886-1899
3-5 Church Records (includes membership list): Was orig. 1899, 1912-1924
Box 3
1 Correspondence 1895-1929
2-5 Committee Reports and Minutes 1883-1936
6 Personnel Committee 1963-1978
Box 4
1-3 Annual and Church Meetings 1884-1912
4-6 Standing Committee Annual Reports 1901-1920
Box 5
1-2 Standing Committee Annual Reports 1921-1930
3-6 Annual Reports 1928-1938
Box 6
1-6 Annual Reports 1939-1964
Box 7
1-5 Annual Reports 1965-1985
Box 8
1-2 Annual Reports 1986-2002
1 Incorporation 1899
2 By-Laws and Revisions 1869-1990
3 Church Manuals 1800s
4 Personnel 1963-1978
5 Vision Reports 1971-1993
6 Task Force 1981-1986
7 Special Meetings 1981-1987, 1990-1999
8 Stewardship Committee 1988-1998, gaps
9 Special Meetings: Future of the Church 1993
10 Standing Committee Meetings 2001-2003
11 Closing the Church 2001-2002
12 Closing the Church: Legacy Terms 2002?
Box 10 : Sub-series - Building Records
1 Repairs to Church 1886
2 Records 1915-1939
3 Remodeling Campaign 1928
4 Blueprints 1939
5 Extension Proposal 1946-1947
6 Communion Service Set 1948
7 Memorial Windows n. d.
  Sub-series - Financial
8 Pew Rentals 1914-1918
9-10 Reports, Correspondence, Fundraising 1902-1946 (gaps), 1972
11 Trustees of Permanent Funds, Correspondence 1950s-1960s
12 Bequests 1905, 1969-1970
13 Benevolence and Financial pamphlets n. d.
   

Series II: Membership

Box 11 : Bound Ledgers
1-4 Church Registers 1868-1975
Box 12
1 Bound church register 1975-2002
2 Members that signed the covenant 1928-1975
3 Covenant and Membership 1870
4 Membership 1940-1943
5 Membership Profiles ca. 1999
6 Guest sign in book 1972-1985
Boxes 13-16
  Membership - alphabetical index file, comprehensive 1868-2003
Box 17
  Baptism index file, chronological 1917 (approximate) -1981
Box 18
  Church Directories multiple dates
   

Series III: Ministers

Box 19
1 Belcher, Jeffery 1999-2001
2 Chickueka, Maria Chela 1999
3 Ellis, Arthur M. 1924-1931
4 Heeren, Ernest 1973
5 Interim Ministers 1970s-1990s
6 Griswold, Jed- Collected Stories 1999
7 Harding, Robert 1962-1972
8 Howe, Frank 1883-1887
9 Hunter, Pleasant, Jr. 1886, 1889
10 Melhorn, Robert 1993
11 Merrill, Randolph Seaman 1931-1975 (gaps)
12 Muste, A.J - clippings 1917-1967 (gaps)
13 Muste, A.J. Peace Agitator: The Story of A. J. Muste by Nat Hentoff (monograph) 1982
14 Muste, A. J. 1914-1917, 1972, 1993
15 Schomer, Howard and Elsie: Missionaries to France 1946-1947
16 Taylor, David H. 1890
17 Tolley, William 1978-1991
Box 20
1 Dedication Sermon, by Rev. Dutton or Gunsavlus 1895
2 Sermons multiple dates
3-6 Pulpit Committee 1956, 1962, 1972-1973, 1977-1978
   

Series IV: Auxiliary and Social Groups - Includes Sunday School

Box 21
1-2 Central Guild, Records 1918-1933, 1933-1939
3 Music multiple dates
4 Social Circle, Records 1869-1873
5 Spiritual Life Meetings 1998
6 Sunday School 1902-1962 (gaps)
7 Sunday School Catalogs and Programs 1890s
8 Young People Society for Christian Endeavor 1894-1900
Box 22 : Women's Groups
1 Ladies Social Circle, Records 1875-1893
2 Charity Square 1895-1903
3-4 Junior Women's Association, Records 1955-1962, 1961-1967
Box 23 : Woman's Association
1 Records 1911-1917
2 Annual Reports 1916-1934, gaps
3 Annual Reports 1932-1941
4 Officers 1965-1973
5-6 Annual Reports 1976-2002
7 Constitution and By-laws multiple dates
8 Evening Group, Minutes 1944-1955
9 Evening Group, Records 1964-1973
10 Evening Group, Officers, Members 1962-1980
Box 24 : Woman's Association
  Handbooks 1917-2002
   

Series V: Church Newsletter Courier

Box 25  1932-1945 (gaps)
Box 26  1959-1970
Box 27  1971-1978
Box 28  1979-1986
Box 29  1987-1992
Box 30  1993-1996
Box 31  1997-2002
   

Series VI: History, Programs, and Photographs

Box 32
1 60th Anniversary 1928
2 70th Anniversary 1938
3 75th Anniversary 1943
4 80th Birthday Bazaar Burlesque 1948
5 100th Anniversary 1968
6 125th Anniversary 1993
7 350th Anniversary: Congregational 1970
8 Histories and Biographies multiple dates
9 Church Archive Inventory 1973
10 Clippings multiple dates
Box 33
1-2 Displaced Persons 1951;1970s
3 Prayer in School 1963
4 Publicity / PR for the church 1960s-1980s
5-6 World War II Servicemen  
Box 34 : Programs
1 Auxiliary Groups 1890s-1965
2 Calendars 1901, 1911, 1937
3 Celebrations, Dedications 1894-1965
4 Christmas 1895-1989 (gaps)
5 Communion Booklet n. d.
6 Easter 1895-1999 (gaps)
7 Memorials 1880-2001
8 Pastoral Installations 1905-1999
9 Religious Education: Children's Day Service Dedication n.d.
10-11 Orders of Service (samples) 1890-1929; 1930-1962
Box 35
  Orders of Service (samples) 1963-2002
Box 36 : Photographs
1 Church Members  
2 Memory Book 2002
3 Building  
4 Ministers  
5 Holidays  
Box 37 : Oversize Material (Folder)
  Blueprints multiple dates
  Central Club Charter Members 1906
  Members 1920?
  Pew Seating Plan n. d.
  Sunday School: Certificate - For Marian Bordan 1908
  Sunday School: Lenten Class Notes by Rev. Ozora S. Davis 1900-1904
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