Ted Cich
Biblical Philologist

Church History

I'm reading Margaret Bendroth's The Last Puritans: Mainline Protestants and the Power of the Past which explores how Congregationalists have used their understandings of history to shape their identity and mission.  Here's an interesting paragraph from the second chapter:

    In the middle decades of the nineteenth century, and after considerable struggle and conflict, Congregationalists made the Pilgrim fathers their own.  This meant, first of all, wresting the memory from their denominational competitors, their Unitarian and Presbyterian cousins.  But it also meant something more: as Congregationalists took ownership of the Pilgrim story, local memories preserved in small church communities would begin to reside within a much longer past, populated by men and women who were, in a strict sense, outsiders to the inner circle of memory.  The individual historic events recorded in local Congregational churches began to join together into extended episodes, taking on grander meaning as they did.  Building this larger narrative was a complicated task, but the result was powerful: the more consciously Congregationalists rooted themselves in the past, the more they were able to contemplate their future.

I resonate with that final sentence.  It's one reason I've been so outspoken in sharing the stories of First Central's past--they help to explore our current mission.


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