Sheffield, Mass. Second North Housatonic Parish of Sheffield
Please note that as of January 2022, the Sheffield, Massachusetts. Second North Housatonic Parish of Sheffield records, 1743, and all future digital collections are now hosted on the library's new digital archive.
The Church at Upper Ousatonuck [sic], Massachusetts, now part of Great Barrington, was gathered in December 1743. The congregation had been founded by the Reverend Samuel Hopkins, an early proponent of the theology of New Divinity. The parish was organized in 1740 and in 1761 was incorporated as the town of Great Barrington. Rev. Hopkins was dismissed from his position as pastor in 1769 at his own request, after the town landowners refused to pay his salary due to doctrinal disagreements.
In 1883 a large stone church building was constructed after a fire destroyed most of the previous structure, which had been built of locally quarried stone in 1859. In the 1880s the church sponsored congregant W. E. B. Du Bois as he attended Fisk University. In 1883 the congregation also accepted the donation by the Hopkins family of a house to be used as a parish hall. This building, also faced in local stone, was designed by Peabody & Stearns, and was previously located across the street from the church before being moved to its present location next to the church. The church continues to serve the community today as the First Congregational Church of Great Barrington, a member of the United Church of Christ. The church building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.
The digital documents below comprise the church's early foundational documents, drawn up before the incorporation of the parish into Great Barrington. They include a covenant and a general confession of faith, both describing the beliefs adhered to by the new congregation and their minister, Rev. Samuel Hopkins.
For additional information please see the finding aid.
This covenant lays out the doctrinal beliefs of the church's congregation. The document was produced at the foundation of the church, which is referred to as "the Church at Upper Ousatonuck" (Housatonic). It was signed by Rev. Samuel Hopkins and Deacon Jonah Pixley, among others.
This confession of faith document was also written at the time of the church's founding and signed by Rev. Samuel Hopkins, Deacon Jonah Pixley, and others. It is similar to the above covenant, describing the beliefs adhered to by the new congregants, but focuses more on the terms of individual salvation rather than general theology.