Massachusetts Convention of Congregational Ministers records, 1749-2008.

Collection Information

Massachusetts Convention of Congregational Ministers records


Massachusetts Convention of Congregational Ministers




5 document cases (1.6 linear ft)

Collection ID #:

RG 0767

Conditions Governing Access:


Copyright: Preferred Citation:

[Identification of item], in the Records of the Massachusetts Convention of Congregational Ministers, RG 0767.The Congregational Library & Archives, Boston, MA.



Processing information:

Processed by Alice Dodds, December 2004

Revision History:

Material added and re-described by Jessica Steytler, January 2013.


These are institutional records of the Massachusetts Convention of Congregational Ministers. Material topics include annual meetings, correspondence, financial, and annual events.

Acquisition Information:

Original donation on deposit in 1974. Additional records added to the collection, 2012.

Organizational History

Convention scribe, Joseph Bassett wrote a brief summary of the organization in 2008 (original in box 5):


The Massachusetts Convention of Congregational Ministers as we know it began between 1692-94 when ministers in Massachusetts Bay met to consider issues afoot in the land... By 1721 the Convention met to hear a Convention sermon in May followed by a dinner with members of the Great and General Court popularly known as The Feast of Moses an Aaron. In 1949 Professor George Williams ardently pled that the MCCM not fold its tent since it was the only Massachusetts clergy configuration not to split in the Unitarian controversy.

Since 1973 a pattern of addressing topics theological, pastoral, and international has emerged in the Massachusetts Convention. The Spring Convention is held alternatively in the UUA and UCC churches with the Convention preacher being from the side other than the host. The average attendance is 15-25 pastors who come out of interest in the topic at hand, be it inclusive language, stem cell research, missionaries in Iraq, or Goodrich v. Department of Public Health.

In 1984 the Convention began to sponsor a two day Karl Barth Seminar of Pastors in mid or late June. In the morning a visiting teacher would lead discussion of forty or so pages in the Church Dogmatics. In the afternoon an ecumenical document would be received and discussed.

Given the many solid sermons preached at the Convention, in 2005 the Convention Archivist began to hold a sermon seminar sometime following the spring Convention to study a past sermon in order to learn the shape of the ministry in Massachusetts for more than three centuries.

The Convention is responsive for distributing the income from the Judah Monis Fund and a modest Convention fund for widows and orphans of Congregational Ministers.

Programs and publicity are the responsibility of officers elected a the spring Convention; a Moderator, Scribe, Treasurer, two Directors from the UUA and two from the UCC with four additional advisers. Mailings are sent to the Congregational clergy in the neighborhood of where the Convention is being held.

For an in-depth history, refer to the essay written by Harold F. Worthley: "An Historical Essay: The Massachusetts Convention of Congregational Ministers", The Proceedings of the Unitarian Historical Society, v XII, pt. 1, 1958, p. 47-63.


Scope of Collection

The earliest records are five bound volumes, 1749-1928. The records after 1928-2008 were maintained in loose leaf notebooks and, unlike the bound volumes, also contain correspondence, memoranda, financial statements, invitations, clippings, speeches, photographs and publications. A significant portion of material, primarily personal notes and memoranda, from the 1970s-2000s, by scribe Joseph Bassett was separated and sent to be added to his personal collection at his seminary.

The earliest records are primarily financial in nature. One of the large responsibilities of the Convention was the financial support of the widows and orphans of deceased ministers. The Convention recorded the monthly donations distributed to these individuals. In addition to this work by the MCCM, its charitable arm, the Congregational Charitable Society, also engaged in the financial support of these needy women and children. Some of the annual appeals for funds for these causes are included as a part of this collection. There are two folders of records of the Evangelical Missionary Society (1909-1913) and the Society for Promoting Theological Education (1893-1901).



  Series I
    These materials include historical documents and the leather bound, handwritten minutes of the MCCM meetings from May 31, 1749 through May 31, 1838. The five volumes in this series are in excellent condition.
  Series II
    These boxes contain more heterogeneous records of the MCCM, spanning the years 1948 through 2008. The records came in loose leaf notebooks and later in individual folders. The earlier decades were kept in original order, later material combined into single year folders, not necessarily in chronological order. They cover a wide assortment of types of records including meeting minutes, meeting notices, invitations, correspondence, drafts, programs, photographs, and some clippings.
  Series III
    These financial records include the accounts of the Massachusetts Convention of Congregational Ministers and its auxiliary groups including the Congregational Charitable Society, the Evangelical Missionary Society, and the Society for the Promotion of Theological Education. The records of the MCCM and the Charitable Society document the donations for the support of deceased ministers' widows and orphans. Also included here is a folder on bequests.
  Series IV
    Contained in this series are the sermons of ministers: John W. Harding in 1887, Edward Everett Hale in 1891, Samuel Collins Beane in 1893 and Prescott B. Wintersteen in 1972.


Related Material

Microfilm copies of 1749-1789 records available, positive and negative, 35 mm.

Massachusetts Congregational Charitable Society

Society for the Promotion of Collegiate and Theological Education

Worthley, Harold F. "An Historical Essay: The Massachusetts Convention of Congregational Ministers", The Proceedings of the Unitarian Historical Society, v XII, pt 1, 1958, p. 47-63.


Access Terms

Barth, Karl, 1886-1968.

Beane, Samuel Collins, 1835-1916

Hale, Edward Everett, 1822-1909.

Harding, John W.

Massachusetts Convention of Congregational Ministers

Wintersteen, Prescott Browning


Detailed Description and Container List

Series I -- MCCM History and Early Meeting Minutes

Box 1
1 Handwritten document appealing to discontinue state fasts undated, Colonial era
2 Ledger of Meeting Minutes, Volume I 1749-1789
3 Ledger of Meeting Minutes, Volume II 1789-1815
4 Ledger of Meeting Minutes, Volume III 1816-1838
Box 2  
1 Ledger of Meeting Minutes, Volume IV 1839-1879
2 Ledger of Minutes Meeting, Volume V 1880-1928

Series II -- MCCM Records, Correspondence, Financial Reports, Invitations, Minutes, Photographs, Clippings

Box 3
  Records 1948-1953
  Records 1954-1958
  Records 1959-1963
  Records 1964-1968
  Records 1969-1973
  Records 1974-1976
  Records 1977-1980
  Records 1981-1982
  Records 1983
  Records 1984
  Records 1985
  Records 1986
Box 4
  Records 1987
  Records 1988-1989
  Records 1990
  Records 1991-1992
  Records 1993
  Records 1994
  Records 1995
  Records 1996
  Records 1997
  Records 1998
  Records 1999-2000
  Records 2001
Box 5
  Records 2002
  Records 2003-2005
  Barth session topic list 1985-2001
  History of MCCM by Joe Bassett 2008

Series III -- Financial Records

1 Congregational Charitable Society Committee of Inquiry, report 1830
2 Congregational Charitable Society, financial records 1800-1827, with gaps
3 Evangelical Missionary Society, ledger of financial records 1909-1913
4 Fund Raising Brochures, appeals for funds to support widows and orphans 1890-1894, 1906, 1911
5 Gifts and Bequests --
6 Judah Monis Fund, correspondence about bequest 1902-1903 and undated
7 MCCM Financial Records, loose 1905-1918
8 MCCM Ledger of Payments to Individuals 1839-1903
9 MCCM Ledger of Payments to Individuals 1860-1881
10 Ledger of Payments to Individuals 1872-1904
11 Society for Promoting Theological Education, financial reports 1893-1895, 1901-1902
12 Unitarian Fund, financial record and transfer of funds 1901, 1916

Series IV -- Sermons

  Rev. John W. Harding May 26, 1887
  Edward Everett Hale January, 1891
  Rev. Samuel Collins Beane June 1, 1893
  The Rev. Prescott B. Wintersteen May 1, 1972


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