Monday, December 10, 2007

Central Congregational Anniversary

The Boston Globe online archives don't go back to the founding of many of the oldest churches of Jamaica Plain, but articles do relate half century anniversary ceremonies. I'll post a few of these, starting with the first I found. I'll note here that Samuel B. Capen was a leading layman in Central congregational and in the Congregational denomination nationally. He served as president of the Sunday School association for 17 years, and was actively involved in mission work. Somehow, he also found time to hold a place on the Boston school board, including time as board president.

The picture above shows the old church, which burned down in the 1930s. At the back of the new church is Capen Hall, named for Samuel B.

Boston Daily Globe February 16, 1903

Celebrates Semicentennial. Central Congregational Church Jamaica Plain Observes Anniversary.

With appropriate services the members of the Central congregational church, Jamaica Plain, commenced yesterday morning the observance of the semi-centennial anniversary of the organization of the church.

The pulpit and choir loft were decorated with potted plants and palms. Rev Charles L. Morgan, pastor of the church, conducted the services. On the platform with him were Rev J.B. Clark, Rev D.M. Boynton and Samuel B. Capen.

At 10:30 the service opened with an organ voluntary, doxology and invocation, followed by responsive reading, and Rev D.M. Boynton offered prayer.

Samuel B. Capen delivered an interesting history of the society.

He reviewed a historical sketch of it given by Rev Dr Joseph B. Clark, Feb 10, 1878, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary. It told of the appearance of the locality when the church was organized, the first meeting for that purpose being held at the residence of Wm. M. Schute at the corner of Green and Washington sts, and Dr George Faulkner, Reuben A. Lamb, James Laughton and Mr Schute being present.

Sunday, May 23,, 1862, the first public religious service was held in the town hall on Thomas st, and in September following Simeon James Humphrey, just out of Andover, was engaged for six months.

The organizing council met at Mr Schute's house Feb 13, 1863, and approved the effort. Dec. 27 following, Alonzo Hall Quint, who had supplied the pulpit for five months, was ordained and installed pastor. At the outbreak of the civil war he became chaplain of the 2d Mass regt of volunteers, and his leave of absence was extended from time to time till May 1863 when the tie was finally severed.

Rev Francis Brown Perkins was pastor from August, 1864, to May, 1870, and in April the old building was sold to the Universalist society for $12,000, and the present lot purchased for $10,000. Building was at once begun, and the vestry was occupied in May, 1872. The building was completed and dedicated Sept 5, 1872, and Oct 8 Rev Joseph B. Clark was installed as third pastor.

Mr Capen then told of events of the 25 years since 1878, in which year the mortgage debt of $19,000 was paid off by the efforts of a committee consisting of Mark R. Wendell, Samuel B. Capen, Mortimer B. Nelson, Dr Joseph Stedman and Charles N. Snow. Rev Joseph B. Clark's pastorate lasted until 1879. Rev G.M. Boynton was in charge from 1880-1888. Rev John E. Tuttle has since been the pastor. The membership of the church at present is 666.

The Sunday school has 508 attendants and the superintendents have been Francis B. King, 1876-1878, Alexander M. Davis, 1879, Edward P. Butler 1880, Chas N. Snow 1881-83, S.D. Balkam 1884-88, Nathaniel Greene 1889, Edward L. Rand 1899-93, Charles H. Kilborn 1894, Frederick A. Farrar 1885, J.W. Farmer 1896-1902 and G.A. Cowen 1903.

Since 1878 the church has paid for home expenses $169,000 and given $89,742 to missions.

Directly after the morning service the Sunday school held an observance, under direction of Supt George A. Cowen and his associate, Theodore Barnes. In addition to the regular service remarks were made by Ex-Supts B.W. Williams, Rev J.B. King, E.P. Butler, C.N. Snow, S.D. Balkam, E.L. Rand, J.E. Butler, J.W. Farmer, G.W. Pierce and M.C. Cone.

At 3:30 the Endeavor society met. After the opening hymn an introductory address was given by John Hamilton Jr., the president: Miss Georgina Reid sang a solo; addresses were made by Rev Dr Charles H. Beale, on "Realization of Endeavor Aims," and William Shaw, treasurer of the United society of Christian Endeavor," on "Sources of Strength."

In the evening a union service was held, at which other churches of the section were represented by their pastors and many parishioners.

The Arlington-st church quartet and organist assisted in the musical program.

The anniversary sermon was preached by the pastor, Rev Charles L. Morgan.

He spoke of the marvelous growth of the Christian church in the past 50 years as due to the great truths of revelation. During 20 years past Christianity had been passing through the severest ordeal to which it has ever been subjected under the analysis of the world's most eminent scientists, but the doctrine of evolution had proved the "exponent of the divine method," instead of banishing God from the universe."

"Though some things we thought divine may prove to be human," said Mr Morgan, "we may confidently anticipate that the final criticism will be found not destructive to, but the surest defence for, whatever is of God."

Greetings were extended by Rev W.A. Thurston of the First Methodist church, Rev C.G. Miller of the Universalist church, Rev H.B. Grose of the Baptist church, all of Jamaica Plain; Rev Ellis Mendell of the Boylston Congregational church, and Rev W.H.Allbright of the Pilgrim Congregational church, Dorchester. With Mr Allbright came about 200 of his parishioners.

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