The story of the North Parish congregation is one of ever increasing equality and religious freedom.
Founded in 1645, the congregation was the 37th church organized by Puritan settlers of the Massachusetts colony. Succeeding generations of members have met weekly since then, but the theology of the ministers and members has continually opened up to new, expansive ideas. In 1836 the congregation became Unitarian and built the current Meeting House. In 1961 we were among those early adapters that joined the new Unitarian Universalist Association.
Reading the history of the congregation (captured in the book And Firm Thine Ancient Vow, by Juliet Mofford) is akin to reading the history of the European settlers of Massachusetts from the time it became a colony through the modern era. This history also reveals the influence of religious congregations on society as a whole. For example, in the 1780’s, African Americans were admitted as members (but not allowed to purchase pews for decades). In 1887, women were admitted as members, long before they could vote in our national democracy. We continue to work for greater access and equality for all and continue to make history!
The congregation now meets in the Fifth Meeting House, built in 1836; it is part of the Old Center District of North Andover and is included in the national Historic Register and the local Historic District Register.
Thanks to Henry Wu for his Eagle Scout project digitalizing information about the burials in the historic Second Burial Ground. This property, currently under stewardship of the North Parish, is located just up Academy Road. Click here to search the database of burials.
Hidden in Plain Sight: The Unexamined History of a New England Parish and Town
Members of the North Parish Racial Justice Team researched aspects of our parish history that are foundational to our identity, yet often left unexamined. They produced a poster display and a booklet that acknowledges and details how the congregation benefited from colonization of indigenous lands and an economic system rooted in slavery.
Slavery and Segregation
In 2019, the congregation unanimously passed a Statement of Acknowledgement and Promise regarding these chapters in our history. Read and share the 24-page booklet.
Below are links to some of our past and recent history:
100 Things Accomplished: 1999-2009
North Parish Footstools
North Parish’s Colonial Silver Brochure
The Story of North Parish Silver
Paul Revere Bell Brochure
Sermon on Black History at North Parish
Sermon on Invisible History