During the years 1840 and 1841, several brethren of the Orthodox Congregational Churches in Boston, were impressed with the importance of forming a new church in the city, with a view of obtaining the services of the Rev. Edward N. Kirk as its Pastor. These impressions having been strengthened in the latter part of the year 1841, during a season of special religious interest in the churches, a meeting of Pastors and lay brethren was called to consider the subject, Dec. 16, 1841.
The following is a transcript of the official record of that meeting.
"A meeting of the Pastors and several lay brethren from the Orthodox Congregational churches in this city, was held at the house of Dea. Daniel Safford, on Thursday, December 16th, 1841, at 3 o'clock, P. M.
The meeting was called to consider the expediency of forming a new Orthodox Congregational church in this city, and inviting the Rev. Edward N. Kirk to become its Pastor.
There were present, of the Pastors, the Rev. Messrs. Aiken, Adams, Winslow, Rogers, Blagden, and Towne, and the Rev. Seth Bliss, Secretary of the American Tract Society ; of the lay brethren, Deacons Samuel T. Armstrong, Pliny Cutler, Daniel Safford, Lewis T. Stoddard, Eliphalet Kimball, Lemuel P. Grosvenor, N. P. Rogers, Charles Scudder, Daniel Noyes, James Tufts, and Charles Stoddard, Messrs. Moses L. Hale, George W. Crockctt, Samuel Hubbard, Thomas A. Davis, Charles W. Homer, and William W. Stone.
Samuel T. Armstrong was called to preside and William W. Stone to act as Secretary.
The Rev. N. Adams led in prayer. The Rev. Mr. Aiken stated the object for which the meeting was called, and each individual present was requested to express his views of the proposal. The Rev. Messrs. Rogers, Aiken, Winslow, Adams, Blagden, Towne, and Bliss, were unanimously of opinion that a new Orthodox Congregational church in this city should be formed without delay, and that the Rev. Edward N. Kirk should be obtained, if possible, for its Pastor, and expressed their readiness to render any aid in their power towards accomplishing the object.
The lay brethren present unanimously coincided in these views, provided satisfactory assurances could be given that sufficient funds could be obtained to erect a house of worship.
On motion of the Rev. Mr. Bliss, a Committee of nine was appointed to take the subject into consideration, and to take such measures for the accomplishment of the object, as they should deem expedient, with power to fill vacancies in the Committee.
The following brethren were appointed on this Committee :—Rev. Scth Bliss, Deacons P. Cutler, Charles Scudder, Charles Stoddard, Julius A. Palmer, Daniel Safford, Messrs. George W. Crockett, Moses L. Hale, and William W. Stone.
After the reading of the above records by the Secretary, and their adoption as the doings of the meeting, Rev. Mr. Aiken led in prayer, and the meeting was dissolved.
The Committee of nine thus constituted, (Messrs. L. P. Grosvenor and George R. Sampson having been substituted for Deacons Cutler and Stoddard, who were unable to serve,) held various meetings from December 16th, to the 29th of March following, for prayer and consultation, in which the enterprise was often discussed in all its bearings; and, after obtaining the names of twenty-five brethren, who professed themselves ready to be united with a new church, on condition that the Rev. Mr. Kirk should become its Pastor, they dissolved, transferring to these brethren all their powers and instructions, and commending them and their enterprise to the Great Head of the church, and to the confidence and co-operation of their brethren in this city. Five of this Committee believed that duty required them to give themselves personally to the enterprise.
During the months of April and May, the brethren, who had thus associated themselves, met frequently to promote the object which they had in view, and held a weekly meeting for prayer. The Rev. Edward N. Kirk having signified to a Committee of the brethren his intention to accept the invitation of the new church to become its Pastor, whenever such church should be formed; an Ecclesiastical Council was called, and convened in the vestry of Park Street meeting-house, on the morning of Wednesday, June 1st, 1842, when twenty-five brethren and twenty-two sisters, who, at their own request, were dismissed from their several churches for the purpose, were regularly organized into a church.
The consecrating prayer was offered by the Rev. W.-Jenks, D. D., Pastor of Green Street Church in Boston, and the fellowship of the churches expressed by the Rev. William M. Rogers, of the Central Church.
The Churches represented in this Council were all the Orthodox Congregational Churches in the County of Suffolk; Second Church in Dorchester; Mercer Street Church in New York city; First Church in Maiden; Evangelical Congregational Church in Cambridgeport; Eliot Church in Roxbury; First Congregational Church in Charlestown ; Winthrop Church in Charlestown ; First Church in Cambridge.
Upon the same day the Rev. Edward N. Kirk was invited by the new church to become its pastor, and having accepted the invitation, was installed in the afternon, by the Ecclesiastical Council called to organize the church.
At a meeting of the brethren, holden upon the evening of June 1st, 1842, Thomas Adams, Daniel Safford, Julius A. Palmer, and Marshall S. Scudder, were chosen Deacons of the church.
The Church held its first public religious exercise in the Old South Chapel, which was generously tendered for their use by the Old South Society, upon Sabbath, June 5th, when the Lord's Supper was administered, and several infant children received the ordinauce of baptism.
On the 19th day of June, 1842, public worship was commenced in the Lecture Room of the Masonic Temple, and continued there till the 31 st of December, 1843.
The first meeting with reference to the erection of a House of Worship, was convened Jan. 3d, 1843, by a public notice from the pulpit, on the preceding Sabbath. At this meeting it was determined, after deliberation and prayer, that the time had arrived, when we were called, in the providence of God, to go forward and erect another sanctuary for bis worship. A subscription was accordingly commenced for the purpose, and subsequently the following gentlemen were elected a Building Committee, with full power to select the location and erect the building, to wit :—George W. Crockett, William W. Stone, Daniel Safford, John Slade, Jr., Roland Cutler, Freeman L. Cushman, and George F. Homer.
After many ineffectual attempts to obtain a situation combining the requisite advantages, the Committee in the month of May succeeded in contracting for an estate on the north side of Somerset Court, a site unequalled perhaps by any in the city for the purpose, considering its quiet location, and its advantages for ventilation and light.
On the 23d of June the church voted to assume the name of "Mount Vernon Church," adopting the name by which the western section of the hill has long been known, on which the building is erected.
The corner-stone was laid on the morning of July 4th, 1843, on which occasion an appropriate address was delivered by the Pastor, and the Rev. Lyman Beecher, D. D. led in prayer.
On the 7th of September, the Stockholders met pursuant to a warrant duly issued by a justice of the peace, and were organized into a Corporation according to law, by the passage of the necessary votes, and the appointment of Standing Committees.
The House having been completed on the 4th of January, 1844, just six months from the day on which the corner-stone was laid, it was solemnly dedicated to the worship of Almighty God. The Pastor was assisted in the services of the occasion by the Rev. Messrs. Adams, Winslow, Rogers, Aiken, Blagden, and Jenks.
The dimensions of the building are 75 feet by 97, containing 132 pews on the lower floor, and 50 in the gallery, in which 1,270 persons may be comfortably seated. The basement story contains, besides the several committee rooms, a commodious chapel, 68 feet long by 48 feet wide, and 15 feet high, which accommodates 600 persons with seats.
Of the 200 individuals who have been added to the church, 90, or nearly one half, have come from churches in the country, and churches of other denominations than our own in the city ; 67, or a fraction over one third, are from the world ; and 43, or a fraction over one fifth, are from sister churches in the city.
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