A Church of Christ was gathered in Boylston Hall in January, 1819, under the pastoral care of Rev. James Sabine. Soon after, several of its members, in connection with other individuals, erected a meeting-house in Essex Street, which was dedicated to the worship of Cod in December of the same year.
About two years afterwards, some difficulties arising, the church on the 6th of March, 1322, voted to return with their Pastor to Boylston Hall. A minority of the church, however, continued to worship in the meeting-house, and on the 28th of the same month requested a regular dismission from Essex Street church. This being granted, they were organized as a separate church, on the 10th of June following, by an Ecclesiastical council.
Soon after, application having been made for assistance, by this infant Church, to the Old South and Park-Street Churches, and the interests of evangelical religion seeming to require that aid should be afforded, several members, after serious deliberation, consented to a separation from their beloved Pastors and brethren, and were united with this Church, on the 26th August, 1822 on which occasion, to mark the transaction and for the purpose of a distinct designation, the name of Union Church was adopted. At the same time, Deacon Nathan Parker, by whose pecuniary aid, chiefly, the meetinghouse in Essex Street had been erected, conveyed by deed the house and the land upon which it is built, to a board of Trustees, for the use of Union Church to be occupied for the worship of the one living and true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. While these measures were in progress, a very liberal subscription was made by the brethren of Old South, and Park Street Churches, to enable the Church to call and support a Pastor.
On the 12th Nov. 1822, the Church unanimously made choice of the Rev. Samuel Green, of Reading, to become their Pastor; who signified his acceptance, by letter, February 8th, 1823, and was installed March 26th following.
In 1831 his health began to fail and he was unable afterwards to preach. In 1833 he deemed it his duty to ask a dismission from his people, which was reluctantly granted, and his pastoral connection was formally dissolved on 26th March, 1834, just eleven years after his installation. He died on the 20th November following. "he was a good man, full of the Holy Ghost and of faith and much people was added unto the Lord."
The Rev. Nehemiah Adams of Cambridge, having been with great unanimity, invited to succeed him in the pastoral office, he was installed, by the same council which dismissed Rev. Mr. Green, March 26, 1834.
During the years 1823 and 1824, the Evangelical Congregational Churches in this city were favored with the special effusions of the Holy Spirit, which resulted in very considerable accessions of members to the respective churches, in which this church liberally participated. As an expression of gratitude to God and to extend the means of evangelical instruction in the city, many members of Old South, Park Street, and Union Churches, in Jan. 1825, united in the erection of a new house* of worship in Hanover Street: and on the 18th of July following, Hanover Church, composed of members dismissed from the above Churches, was organized, to occupy the house when completed. To this object, Union Church furnished six members.
Another season of revival followed in 1826 and 1827 ; and as the fruit of these seasons of spiritual prosperity, during the year 1827, two new houses of worship were erected in the same manner as before ; and also two new Evangelical Churches, Pine Street and Salem, were organized at the same time, September 2, 1827, composed principally, of members dismissed with cordial affection from Old South, Park Street, Union, and Hanover Churches. On this occasion this Church parted with seventeen members.
In 1831 and 1832, revivals of, religion were general and powerful, and were followed by large accessions to the Churches. The orderly and Christian walk of most of those who were then united to this church, bears witness to the excellent effects of such seasons.
The subject of sacred music has engaged, to some extent, the attention of the church. They consider it the duty of all, possessing the requisite natural talents, to cultivate them, and to unite in the music of the sanctuary.
On the subject of the use of Ardent Spirit,—the Church unanimously resolved, on the 28th of March, 1827,— "That we will not use ardent spirit ourselves nor permit its rise in our families, except for medical purposes."
By vote of the Church, one-third of the collections at the communion seasons, after supplying the Table, is appropriated to constitute a fund for charitable purposes under the direction of the officers of the Church; and the other two-thirds, for the use of the poor of the Church.
In 1837, the "Pew proprietors as such" were incorporated into the "Essex Street Congregational Society." And by virtue of certain articles of agreement between it and the Church the trust deed has been surrendered, and the fee of the house vested in the Society, and the following rights and privileges secured by covenant to the church :—
1. Whenever the Pulpit shall be without a settled Pastor, or by his sickness or absence, be vacant, the church shall direct the supply, the expense of which to be paid by the society.
2. Whenever a Pastor is to be chosen, the church shall have the exclusive right to nominate the same, and propose the person to the society for its concurrence. The salary to be determined by the society.
3. The meeting-house may, at any time, be freely used by the church, but the society will not grant the use of the same to any persons, for other than religious uses, unless such use be expressly authorized by a vote of two-thirds of the male, members of said church and society present at a joint meeting, duly notified for that purpose.
*Burnt Feb. 1, 1830, and rebuilt in Bowdoin Street, 1832.
1. "Brief History of Union Church", Confession of Faith, and Covenant, also A Brief History of Union Church, Essex Street, Boston, 1852, pages 3-7.
See AlsoBoston Union Church 1852 Manual