We are a historic church in a historic city. Our congregation dates back almost 400 years, in the oldest neighborhood in Boston. Our previous pastors include names like John Harvard, and we are just blocks away from the Bunker Hill Monument. We have a deep history in Charlestown, Boston and our country. After seeing declining membership over the past 20 years, First Church seeks to revitalize our congregation and our community through a new vision to preach the gospel of Christ to our community. We desire above all else to love God, love people, and make disciples.
Timeline History of the First Church of Charlestown
Information from Walking Together: A Brief History of the First Church in Charlestown by Christine Jaronski.
1629 Puritans migrate from Salem and assemble for the first public worship in Charlestown under an oak tree.
1630 Governor Winthrop, Rev. John Wilson, and new Puritan settlers arrive on the Arabella and draw up the Charlestown-Boston Covenant to gather their first church.
1632 Those remaining in Charlestown ask to be dismissed from the Boston church to gather First Church of Charlestown. They worshipped in the Great House, in City Square.
1636 A college is founded in Cambridge by the General court and by the six church of the Standing Order: The First Churches in Boston, Cambridge, Charlestown, Dorchester, Roxbury, and Watertown.
1637 John Harvard and his wife, Ann, become members of First Church. He takes on the role as teaching minister.
1638 John Harvard dies, leaving half his estate and his entire library to the new college, which is named after him (Harvard University)
1669 Daughter church, Old South, was founded.
1775 The British burn Charlestown, including the First Church meeting house, during the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17th.
1784 Jedidiah Morse writes the first geography textbook published in America.
1786 The first bridge from Charlestown to Boston is built.
1789 Jedidiah Morse is called to serve as minister, which he does until 1819. Membership is currently 135.
1806 First Church membership reaches 235.
1808 Andover Seminary is founded with the help of Jedidiah Morse.
1816 Jedidiah Morse travels to New York to help found the American Bible Society.
1817 Second Church in Charlestown breaks away from First Church, taking 17 members.
1837 Second Church is renamed Harvard Church.
1833 Winthrop Church breaks away from First Church, taking 34 members.
1835 First Church membership reaches 271.
1849 Winthrop Church (remember they broke away from First Church in 1833, taking only 34 members) erects building at 10 Green Street.
1861 Civil War
1911 First Church merges with Winthrop Church and moves into their building (10 Green Street). The original First Church building is sold in 1938 and later demolished.
1913 The merged congregations of First Church and Winthrop Church are incorporated as First Church in Charlestown.
1914 World War I
1940 Charlestown's first housing project is built; it includes 1,149 apartments on 23 acres of land.
1939 World War II
1957 A catastrophic fire destroys (due to faulty wiring in the organ) portions of First Church (the sanctuary and steeple). Children from the Boys Club, across the street, notified the director. Bystanders and youth ran over to try and save valuables. The entire community worked together to raise funds to rebuild the damaged building. Most of the restoration was done by church members. The sanctuary was redesigned to be smaller; the side balconies were removed and the space was used to create a ring of classrooms around it.
1968 The busing controversy hits Boston (integration of black and white students). (At some point during this time, black students of Charlestown wait for their bus near First Church. There is rioting and fighting. First Church opens their doors to the black students to provide a safe place for them to wait for their bus. Bricks and rocks are thrown into the windows of the sanctuary. The windows are still boarded up from the damage.)
1974 The Defense Departments closes Charlestown Navy Yard and the property is transferred to the National Park Service. (This is a stop on the Freedom Trail.)
2007 First Church membership is down to 64.
2015 First Church member is at approximately 15 members; congregation is 386 years old. Rev. Erik Maloy is called as the newest pastor of First Church in Charlestown.