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Second Church
Second Parish, White Church, Codman Square
Click image for more information
 Second Church

Built: 1805-1806

Dedicated 1808.

Under Thaddeus Harris' tenure at the First Church it was seen that the congregation had outgrown its accommodations, so the Second Church was set off to be located at Codman Square. The Second Parish was formed by official vote of the Town of Dorchester, June 19, 1807, and the Second Church was organized by a Council, January 1, 1808, with sixty-four charter members "affectionately dismissed" from the First Church. Dr. John Codman became its first pastor in December, 1808. It is interesting to note that the bell in Second Church was cast by Paul Revere. It was at this time that the lines were beginning to be drawn distinctly between the rigid and liberal portions of the churches.

Unitarianism existed as a faith but not as a denomination. Dr. Harris and the First Parish belonged to the liberal order, and the new or Second Church included those who were in sympathy with him and his views. The new minister of the Second Church possessed strong Orthodox views. Liberal members of the Second Church disagreed with Dr. Codman, because he refused to exchange pulpits with the liberal members of the Boston Ministers' Association. A long and bitter controversy followed and led to a confrontation.

Those who were dissatisfied agreed to sell Dr. Codman their pews and to withdraw from the Church membership. The seceders organized the Third Religious Society (called then the New South Parish), a distinct Unitarian parish. Their first meeting was May 6, 1813, when the construction of a meeting house was planned.

The ministers of the Second Church and their periods of tenure were:

John Codman, 1808-1847
James Howard Means, 1848-1878
Edward Newman Packard, 1879-1887
Arthur Little, 1889-1912
Jason Noble Pierce, 1914-1920
Vaughn Dabney, 1920-1931
Andrew Richards, 1932- at least to 1955

In 1829 twenty-one members were dismissed from the Second Church to form a new church in the south part of the town, which took the name of the Village Church.

For more information, consult:

Chaffee, John R. The History of the First Methodist Episcopal Church, Dorchester, Massachusetts. Boston: The Pilgrim Press, 1917.

Dorchester Old and New, 1630-1930. Dorchester: Chapple Publishing Company for the Dorchester, Massachusetts, Tercentenary Committee, 1930.

King's Hand-Book of Boston. Boston: Moses King Corporation, 1889. 9th ed.

Orcutt, William Dana. Good Old Dorchester: A Narrative History of the Town, 1630-1893. Cambridge, The University Press, 1908.

Proceedings of the Second Church and Parish in Dorchester; Exhibited in a Collection of Papers. Published Agreeably to a Vote of the Church. Second edition. Boston: Printed by Samuel T. Armstrong, 1812.

Review of the Dorchester Controversy. From the Panoplist. Boston, 1813.

Robertson, Janet L. Puritan Heritage: A Brief History of Second Church in Dorchester. Boston, 1955.

James H. MeansChurch SplitSecond Church Autobiographies
Related Images: showing 8 of 50 (more results)
Here are some images from the Atheneum archive related to this topic. Click on any of these images to open a slideshow of all 50 images.
Codman Square, 2nd Church. High SchoolGreetings from Dorchester, Mass.Second Congregational ChurchWilliam Q. Wales
Susan S. FessendenSecond ChurchSecond ChurchCodman Square from the west
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Created: August 17, 2003   Modified: May 2, 2007