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The Story of Congregationalism

This history of the Congregational Way is most interesting and inspiring. Undoubtedly there have been people in the Christian church since the days of Jesus, himself, with a turn of mind similar to that of Congregationalists. However, these people did not band together as a distinctive group or denomination until the 16th century when Congregationalism came into being.

The following summary, covering more than four centuries, lists a few of the important dates and events in the story of our heritage.

29 A.D   Pentecost

35          Paul's conversion.

64          Paul's death.

1054      Separation of eastern and western parts of the church.

1517      Martin Luther nails 95 Theses on door of church in Wittenberg.

1522      Parliament of England enacts "Act of Conformity".

1534      The Church of England established free of Papal order.

1567      Separation group meets in London; leader is Richard Fitz.

1581      Robert Brown gathers a church in Norwich.

1602      A Congregational church formed in Gainseborough under John Smythe.

1605      Wm. Brewster and John Robinson organize Congregational church in Scrooby.

1609      Scrooby group migrates to Leyden, Holland with John Robinson.

1620      Voyage of Mayflower; 102 persons from Leyden under Wm Brewster. November 11, 1620,   

               Mayflower Compact signed.

1629      Salem church formed by covenant.

1632      Church organized at Newtowne (Cambridge) under Thomas Hooker.

1636      Hooker and Newtowne congregation migrate to Hartford. Harvard University founded by


1648      Cambridge Synod (convention) Congregational Churches of New England drew up Cambridge


1701      Yale University founded by Congregationalists.

1734      Great Awakening; a religious revival following the preaching of Jonathan Edwards. "Thought is

               religions's best weapon, and religion is thought's best inspiration".

1769      Dartmouth College founded by Congregationalists.

1776      Declaration of Independence.

1788      A colony of Congregationalists migrates west to found the town of Marietta, Ohio. First

               permanent settlement on Northwest Territory.

1796      First Congregational church in Ohio founded.

1801      Plan of Union sets up cooperation with Presbyterians.

1806      Haystack meeting, Samuel Mills and four classmates decide to send gospel to Asia. Foreign


1810      American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions organized under auspices of

              Congregational churches in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

1812     The five Haystack Meeting brethren sent to India as its first missionaries.

1819     The "Christian Church" formed by uniting of group of Methodists in Virginia, a group of Baptists in

              New England, and groups of Presbyterians from Kentucky and Tennessee, under leadership of

              Barton Stone. The Unitarians depart.

1833     Oberlin College founded by Congregationalists.

1842     Eleven students serve as missionaries to Iowa (from Andover Theological Seminary).

1846     Congregationalist Horace Bushnell writes book, "Views on Christian Nurture". Religious education

              takes new turn.

1852     Albany Convention: the plan of union with Presbyterians ended.

1865     First National Council meeting in Boston writes and adopts "Boston Platform" of church


1871     Oberlin National Council Meeting adopts Constitution.

1913     Kansas City National Council Meeting revises Constitution and develops Kansas City Statement of


1931     Merger of Christian Churches and Congregational Churches to become Congregational Christian


1936     Unification of control over all 17 independent commissions and agencies of Congregational

              churches achieved. Steps taken to look into more unification.

1948     Evanston Meeting; gathering of churches committed to Congregational Way.

1955     National Association of Congregational Christian Churches formed at Detroit.

1957     Union of the Evangelical and Reformed Church, with the General Council of Congregational

              Christian Churches results in formation of the United Church of Christ.

1960     United Church of Christ adapts its Constitution adjourned meeting of second General Synod.

1961     National Association of Congregational Christian Churches declares itself to be successor to

              General Council of the Congregational Christian Churches which was dissolved by the United

              Church of Christ.

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