Instant History Podcasts

The Dedham Decision

Although the U.S. Constitution mandates the separation of church and state, it wasn't truly put into practice in Massachusetts until an 1820 dispute between church members and non-member taxpayers in Dedham led to a ruling by the state Supreme Court. Hear how one town's search for a new minister created lasting legal changes, and gave rise to the Unitarian churches in America.

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Taylor on Stiles and Statistics

Rick Taylor has delved into the history of Congregational calculations to discover why Ezra Stiles' prediciton of massive denominational growth never came to pass. In his lecture, "Congregationalism's Biggest Mistake: Reasons Why There Aren’t Seven Million Congregationalists", he explores the perils of optimism and how sometimes the numbers can even fool the statistician.

Listen or read about it here.

Rev. Antoinette Brown Blackwell

Antoinette Brown Blackwell spent her entire life challenging the limits placed on women in American society and American church life. She was the first woman ordained in the United States, and the probably the first woman ordained to any Western church in the modern era....

To find out more about this remarkable woman, listen to this podcast. Thanks to John Simon for narrating. Script written by Peggy Bendroth.

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Lemuel Haynes

Listen to a description of the life and career of Lemuel Haynes. He was the earliest recorded black Congregational preacher, a self-taught scholar, and a Revolutionary war soldier. Over a century before the Civil War, he preached in support of equality for black Americans across New England and New York and sowed the seeds for the abolition movement.

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Joseph Hardy Neesima

Niijima Jo, or Joseph Hardy Neesima, is a key figure in the history of Japan and in the story of American Congregationalism. Born in Tokyo and educated in New England, he founded the Doshisha School — now Doshisha University — in Kyoto to promote modern educational practices in the East.

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Henry Opukaha’ia

Henry Opukaha’ia was an important figure in the development of Congregational foreign missionary outreach. Orphaned as a teenager and taken in by a series of missionaries and theologians in New England, he taught his new acquaintances about his own culture while studying English and religion. Though he never returned to his native Hawaii, he inspired many others to do so.

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Applegate's Beecher Lecture

Debby Applegate visited Boston to present her lecture, "Henry Ward Beecher and Three Things Never to be Discussed in Polite Company: Religion, Sex, and Politics," based on her book, The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher. The event was co-sponsored by the Congregational Library and the Old South Church in November 2007. Thanks to Ken and Suze Campbell and Evan Shu for providing this content.

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