ITS 175TH ANNIVERSARY
First Congregational Church Norwood is Celebrating It.
NORWOOD, Oct 23—The exercises commemorative of the 175th anniversary of the organization of the First Congregational Church of Norwood began yesterday. At the forenoon services special music was sung by the male quartet under the direction of the organist, Lyman F. Brackett. A sermon appropriate to the occasion was deliv-cita uy the pastor. Rev Arthur Howe Pingree. The church was crowded, as was also the case in the evening.
The evening services were under the auspices of the Sunday School, past and present. The exercises included singing by the congregation. Scripture reading by supt H. Allen Halstead, Invocation by the pastor and prayer by H. ‘ Eugene Rice. Organist Brackett was assisted by three young violinists. Misses Esther and Ruth Vance and Miss Molly Lavarre, and by Miss Ida T. Chapman, cornetist. On the platform with the pastor were all the ex-superintendents now living. Including H. Eugene Rice, Edson D. Smith and William i A. Williamson, with the present superintendent, H. Allen Halstead.
An address, historical in Its nature, was given by Francis O. Winslow, who was superintendent for 29 years, and is a member of the American board.
What is now Norwood was the Second, or South, Parish of Dedham at the time the church was organized, the town not having been set off from Dedham till 1872, having before then been called South Dedham. The South Parish was Incorporated Oct 10, 1730, but the organization of the church was not effected till a few years later. The records read for Jan 4, 1734: “Voted to build a meeting house on the land formerly of Ebenezer Dean.”
June 23, 1736. was the actual date of the organization of the church, with 15 members, and on June 30 Rev Thomas Balch was ordained as its pastor Capt Ezra Morse, John Dean, John Everett and Ebenezer Everet were the first deacons.
The first meeting house occupied very nearly the site of the present building, on what is now Walpole st. In 1745 the pastor and several of his flock went to take part in the siege of Louisburg. Rev Mr Balch was a native of Charlestown, and was born Oct 17, 1711. He was graduated at Harvard in the class of 1733, and Man’ Sumner of Roxbury married him in 1787. After a ministry of 37 years, he died on Jan 8, 1774
In 1770 the church moved into its second meeting house, situated near the present Norwood Central Station. Rev Jabez Checkering was ordained pastor July 8, 1776, served for 35 years, and really laid the foundation of the Public Library.
Under the pastorate of the next minister, Rev William Cogswell, the church moved to Its third meeting house, the building being dedicated Oct 9. 1828. and situated near where the Norwood Press now stands. In the early part of that year 35 members closed their connection with the church to form the Universal 1st Society.
In. 1883-84 the present church edifice was erected on the site where the first meeting house was built in 1736, during the pastorate of Rev Ellls/Mendell, who was ordained June 4, 1879; The church has since been enlarged and many improvements added, until it is one of the best equipped buildings for church work In Massachusetts. The parsonage, which adjoins the church, was built in the pastorate of Rev A. L. Loder, who was Installed in 1899.
The present pastor, Rev Arthur Howe Pingree, was Installed Nov 13, 19U2. His success as a pastor has been most marked, and his work among the boys especially has been of great benefit throughout the town. He Is not only an eloquent’ pulpit orator, but a traveled and cultured scholar, who often lectures for the benefit of deserving causes. Socially there Is no more popular minister or man throughout the town, not only in his own parish, but among the townspeople generally, who recognize the great worth of his work for boys.
The pastors of the church, with the dates of their pastorates, were: Rev Thomas Balch, 1736-1774: Rev Jabez Chickering, 1776-1812; Rev William Coggswell, 1815-1829; Rev Harrison O. Park, 1829-1835; Rev Calvin Durfee, 1836-1851; .Rev Moses M. Colburn, 1851-1866; Rev Joseph P. Bixby, 1866-1878; Rev Ellis Mendell, 1879-1889; Rev Achilles L. Loder, 1889-1894; Rev Charles F. Weed40, 1895-1900; Rev Arthur H. Pingree, 1902 to the present.
The church has now a membership of 307, with a Sunday school numbering 530.
The anniversary celebration will continue Wednesday evening, when addresses will be given by Rev Charles T. Weeden of Dorchester, formerly pastor of the church, on ’‘Inspiration of the Past,” and by Rev William T. Beale of Dedham on “Inspiration of the Future.” The Scripture reading will be by Rev Alexander McKenzie, pastor of the Walpole Congregational Church, and prayer by Rev Arthur H. Pingree, pastor. Special music will be sung by a quartet composed of Miss Edith Spear, Miss Bessie Smeltzer, Edward E. Bullock and Webster A. Chandler» under direction of organist Brackett.
One of the most Interesting feat will be “Greetings From ’Friends,” read by the clerk of the church, W. A. Williamson.