Our History

Honor our past. Create our future.

From banners hanging in our sanctuary

Our beginnings

Founded in 1645, the religious community now known as North Parish has gone through many changes. The 37th church organized by Puritan settlers from Europe, the original Meeting House was built on the original homelands of the Pennacook tribal nation, an Algonquian-speaking tribe of the Wabanaki Confederacy. 

Our theological evolution

Originally founded as the First Church of Christ, for almost two hundred years the Meeting House served as both a religious center and a location for town meetings. In 1836 the congregation became Unitarian and built the current Meeting House (the fifth in our history). Shortly after, residents in the “North Parish” and the “South Parish” voted to split into independent towns – Andover (South Parish) and North Andover (North Parish). In 1961 North Parish was among those early adapters that joined the new Unitarian Universalist Association.

1886 image of Old Center, North Andover, with North Parish's 5th Meeting House at the crossroadsMinisterial longevity is not always the norm in church communities, however, over its first 375 years, North Parish had a total of 17 settled ministers! Rev. Bluemel, installed in 1999, was the first female minister.

Our ongoing activism

Our church history tells the story of a church that was both shaped by events that occurred – politically, economically, theologically – and one that shaped the community in return. For example, in the 1780’s, African Americans were admitted as members although not allowed to purchase pews for decades. In 1887, women were admitted as members, long before they could vote in our national democracy. In 2003, North Parish adopted the UUA sponsored initiative and became a Welcoming Congregation, actively welcoming lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer people (LGBTQ) as full participants in the life of the church.

We continue to work for greater access and equality for all and continue to make history!

Options to learn more about the rich history of North Parish

1806 Paul Revere Bell, footstool restoration from 1830s, silver chalices 1724-1801

Join us as we honor our past and create our future!