On Sunday, March 21, 2010, we celebrated our 325th Anniversary. Leading up to the celebration, we researched and revisited our history in the “Roots that Hold Us” Series (pdf) for an interesting historical perspective.
Worshippers have met on this spot continuously since 1685, when the First Parish in Sherborn was founded with the Reverend Daniel Gookin called as first minister. Reverend Gookin’s gravestone, recently discovered and restored, is now housed and displayed within the sanctuary. Along with John Eliot of Natick, Reverend Gookin also ministered to the local Natick Praying Indians, especially during the Nipmucs’ exile to Deer Island in the 17th Century during King Philips War.
The present structure, the third on this site, was built in 1830 and is listed with the National Register of Historic Places. Built in Greek Revival style, its dominant feature is its octagonal steeple, which blew off during a 1938 hurricane and was replaced as faithfully as possible in 1940.
When Unitarianism flowered in 19th century New England, the First Parish congregation claimed that faith in 1830, and a Trinitarian faction split away. In 1897, in nearby Natick, the Natick Unity Church was founded by Sarah Allen Cooney, its principal advocate of Unitarianism.
In 1967, the Natick church building was destroyed by fire. The Sherborn and Natick Unitarian Universalist churches merged in 1977, creating the church as we know it today.
Today, residents of area towns including Ashland, Dover, Holliston, Hopkinton, Medway, Natick and Sherborn come together to make a community. Our geographical distances shrink with the sharing of our faith.
Listen to an audio history of the First Parish UUAC in Sherborn, Mass. and the Eliot Church in Natick, Mass. and the Natick Praying Indian congregations, written and delivered by Don Peters.
Ministers of the First Parish in Sherborn
|1874-1875||Alfred E. Mullett|
|1876-1890||Eugene De Normandie|
|1890-1892||Francis P. S. Lamb|
|1893-1903||Leverett R. Daniels (also served in S. Natick)|
|1903-1914||Isaac F. Porter|
|1915-1917||William Ichabod Nichols|
|1917-1919||Isaac F. Porter|
|1919-1927||William D. Wilkie (also served in S. Natick)|
|1927-1930||Cicero Adolphus Henderson|
|1936-1938||William Billingham and Howard Matson (also served in S. Natick)|
|1938-1942||Marius McKarl Nielson (also served in S. Natick)|
|1942-1944||Waldemar Argow (also served in S. Natick)|
|First Parish and Pilgrim Church joined as The Federated Church of Sherborn|
|1945-1947||John K. Hammon|
|1951-1953||Tristan Paul Knight|
|1961-1962||James Hutchinson (interim)|
|1972-1976||Glenn H. Turner (began sharing with Natick)|
|1976-1977||John Wood, interim, made Minister Emeritus|
|Unitarian Universalist Area Church|
|1977-1982||Deane Starr (consolidated with Natick, 1977)|
|1982||James Hobart (interim)|
|1988-1989||Ray Baughan (interim)|
|1989-1990||Phyllis O’Connell (interim)|
|2001-2003||Deborah Pope Lance (interim)|