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.