Litchfield, Conn. South Farms Church
Please note that as of January 2022, the Litchfield, Connecticut. South Farms Church records, 1781, and all future digital collections are now hosted on the library's new digital archive.
The Church at South Farms, Litchfield, Connecticut was gathered in 1768, a year after the South Farms parish of Litchfield was organized and the church society formed. They called their first pastor, George Beckwith, and ordained him in 1772. Several pastors followed Rev. Beckwith at the church, among them Rev. Amos Chase, Rev. Amos Pettengill, Rev. Ralph S. Compton, and Rev. David L. Parmelee, a native son of Litchfield. In 1859 South Farms of Litchfield became the town of Morris and the church became known as Morris Congregational Church. The church is still active today and is a member of the United Church of Christ.
All of the digital records below deal with a disciplinary case against the church's first minister, Rev. George Beckwith. Rev. Beckwith had served the church for 10 years before conflict with his congregation resulted in calls for an ecclesiastical council in 1781. Ultimately Rev. Beckwith was ousted from his position as pastor at the council's recommendation, after being found guilty of several offenses including pastoral negligence and "lasciviously attempting female chastity".
For additional information please see the finding aid.
This document, dated 1 January 1781, records the church's vote to call an ecclesiastical council to "finally determine a number of complaints or grievances" against Pastor Rev. George Beckwith and to also hear testimony from Rev. Beckwith in his own defense. Those invited to the council include pastors and delegates from Hartford, Wethersfield, Newington, Glastonbury, and Oxford.
This correspondence, dated 5 January 1781, is an invitation to Rev. Eells of Glastonbury, Connecticut asking the pastor and a delegate from the church to meet as part of the council regarding Rev. George Beckwith.
These meeting minutes record the results of the ensuing ecclesiastical council, which was held on January 31, 1781. The council largely found in favor of the dissatisfied members of the congregations and against Rev. Beckwith, who was compelled to provide a written confession.
This document comprises the written confession of Rev. George Beckwith, given in accordance with the determination of the ecclesiastical council held at South Farms church in January of 1781.
This partial document constitutes the official removal of George Beckwith from the office of pastor, on 1781 February 6. The document was penned by Rev. John Marsh, Pastor at Wethersfield, Mass. and elected scribe of the ecclesiastical council held in January of 1781. It affirms the dissolution of the relationship between the Church at South Farms and Rev. George Beckwith.