History of our Congregation
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A Legacy of Service
The congregation's roots run deeply throughout Dorchester history; our first church was built by the Puritans shortly after their 1630 landing. A church of this congregation has stood on Meetinghouse Hill since 1670. We are the oldest congregation within the present-day boundaries of the city of Boston, and since its founding, First Parish Dorchester has been committed to a strong social mission.
The congregation held the first recorded town meeting in Dorchester in 1633, and was one of five churches that founded Harvard College. The original Puritan congregation is still remembered for establishing the country’s first tax-supported, free public elementary school (The Mather School) in 1636. The first four meetinghouses acted as Dorchester’s town hall. The fifth building, built in 1816, was the host to many social justice leaders, such as William Lloyd Garrison and Theodore Parker, because of First Parish Dorchester’s long-standing pastor Reverend Nathaniel Hall who was dedicated to the abolitionist cause. In the 1880s, the work of FPD’s minister, Christopher R. Eliot, and the Fields Corner Congregational Church’s minister, Reverend T.J. Volentine, inspired FPD members and friends to organize the Fields Corner Industrial School for local children, which has evolved into DotHouse Health, a multi-service health center where church members continue to serve on the board of directors.