Monday, December 10, 2007

Rev Florence K. Crooker - Jamaica Plain Minister

St Paul Universalist Church (formerly), Rockview street (2008).

Here's a new name to me. In Florence K. Crooker, Jamaica Plain had a woman minister one hundred year ago. The church was a wood frame building on Rockview street, opposite St John street. Mrs Crooker was pastor from 1905-1910. The church was organized in 1888, and the final meeting was held in January, 1928. I wonder what happened? For a little more on the church, see here. The following is an excerpt from from a larger article on women ministers of the time.

Addendum: it took a while, but I finally took a walk on Rockview street and found the old St Paul church still standing. It appears as if an addition was built on the front right of the building. The original Universalist church, purchased from the Central Congregational society, was at Centre street and Greenough avenue, shown on this 1874 map.

Boston Daily Globe May 10, 1908

Women Ministers Of New England.


Rev Florence K. Crooker has the distinction of being the only woman in Greater Boston in full charge of a denominational church and on absolute equality with any minister. She has for four years been pastor of St Paul's Universalist church in Jamaica Plain, and while there has succeeded in "lifting" a mortgage of 15 years standing, has increased the membership of the church and has gathered together one of the finest and largest clubs of young people in the city of Boston.

Though a native of Massachusetts, her great work has been in the west. Starting with a handful of people in a little hall in Chicago, she soon built a small church, outgrew it, and afterwards built the Stuart-av church of that city. Going from there to the Pacific coast, she organized in Pasadena, Calif, a society which grew into a large and flourishing parish.

While travelling with her husband in England she was many times invited to preach, and during their stay in Shrewsbury she preached regularly every Sunday evening in the church where Darwin used to sit, and was courteously and cordially received by the conservative Englishmen who refuse to ordain women in their own country.

Mrs Crooker is probably the only woman minister in the world who is married to a minister of a different denomination. Her husband, Rev J.H. Crooker, DD, is pastor of the Unitarian church at Roslindale, so that in addition to her work as pastor of the Universalist church in Jamaica Plain she manages to greatly assist her husband in his parish work and at the same time conduct a charming and hospitable home.

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