A welcoming congregation
handicap accesible

 

Come see Rev. Ralph Waldo Emerson's pulpit.

Image of the FPC pultpit, the actual one used by Ralph Waldo Emerson

A Brief History of Our Church

Tablet reading, "In Memoriam The Rev. Samuel Whiting first minister of Billerica born in Skirbeck near Boston Lincolnshire England March 25 1633 ordained pastor of this church on the day of its organization Nov. 11 1663 and continuing its pastor until his death Feb. 28 1713.  1883 tablet replaced 1972"

Read exciting details about the founding of Billerica in this recently rediscovered and scanned copy of:

An Historical Memoir of Billerica, in Massachusetts Containing Notices of the Principle Events in the Civil and Ecclesiastical Affairs of the Town, From it's First Settlement to 1816.
By John Farmer. Published by Request. Amherst, NH. Printed by R. Boylston 1816

An Historical Memoir of Billerica 1816

1653 
The "Shawshin Wilderness" was first settled in 1653, and its inhabitants recognized as the Town of Billerica in 1655. 
1658 - 1663 
Samuel Whiting, Jr., was called as their first minister in 1658. The first meeting house was built in 1659. But the church could not be formally organized and its minister ordained until approval of the "Half-Way Covenant" in 1663. "Unity or diversity" characterized our beginning. 
1789 
Separation of church and state was guaranteed by the Massachusetts Constitution. 
1797 
George Washington was President - the country grew, and so did families in the meeting house. In 1797, "a new and more commodious meeting house was found necessary and was erected." The fourth meeting house was built. At that time, Dr. Henry Cumings was pastor. 
1825 
The American Unitarian Association was founded. 
1828 
The "First Church" existed alone in the Town of Billerica for 165 years. 
1844 
The meeting house was renovated by adding the Greek Portico and interior fittings, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson's pulpit; and the house was turned 90 degrees to face the east (this was done by jacking up the building, setting it gently on a large cannon ball, and carefully pivoting it until it faced east). 
1967 - 1970 
Our First Parish Church was destroyed by fire two days after Christmas. Many Billerica and area residents and businesses contributed generously to the rebuilding of our church, and on November 22, 1970, the fifth and present church building was dedicated. 
May 18, 1997 
A Tree Planting Dedication Ceremony was held by the First Parish Church to commemorate the 200th Anniversary of the erection of the fourth Meeting House on the current site of the church.  
2007 
First Parish Church is recognized as a Welcoming Congregation. 
2008 
The Meeting House becomes accessible to all people with a new lift. First Parish celebrates its 350th anniversary in Billerica. 
2013 
The lift is upgraded to keyless operation. 

Tablet reading, "In Memoriam The Rev. Henry Cumings D. D. Forth pastor of the church and society from 1763 to 1823.  Born Sept. 25 1739, Ordained Jan. 25 1763, Died Sept. 5 1823.  1883 Tablet replaced 1972."


Key Dates in the History of the Unitarian Universalist Association

1553 
Geneva, Switzerland - Michael Servetus is burned at the stake for his heretical belief in the oneness of God. 
1568 
Torda, Transylvania - Unitarian king Sigismund decrees a law granting people greater freedom of religion. Francis David organizes Unitarian congregations. 
1750 
London, England - James Relly organizes a Universalist Church based on salvation for all people, instead of heaven for some and hell for others. 
1770 
Lanoka Harbor, New Jersey - John Murray preaches his message of Universalism on the shores of North America -- that people must live in harmony, in the example set by Jesus. 
1794 
Northumberland, Pennsylvania - English chemist Joseph Priestley, his laboratory burned because of his religious beliefs, comes to the New World and founds a Unitarian Church in Pennsylvania. 
1842 
Montreal, Canada - The first Unitarian Church in Canada is founded. 
1961 
North America (U.S. and Canada) - Unitarians and Universalists merge to form a liberal religious association.