Leverett — Churches
Extracted from "History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, Volume II," by Louis H. Everts, 1879.
In March, 1774, it was agreed to devote £15 to the hire of preaching for the ensuing summer. In September, 1774, it was agreed to add an extra £5 to the preaching fund, and to build a house for public worship. It was voted the house should be 50 feet long by 40 feet wide, or "as big as the Whately meeting-house." £40 were appropriated to build the house, and 2s. per day was agreed as the price which should be paid for work; on the frame. In October, 1774, it was voted, "by a great majority, to set the house for public worship on the hill near the southeast corner of the fish-pond, in the corner where two roads meet the county road through the town north and south." In June, 1775, it was voted to provide for the raising of the meeting-house, and further that "we provide meat and peas or beans, and some cake, if needed, for raising dinner or dinners; that we have three barrels of cider, and that we make fourteen bushels of cake for raising said meeting-house, meaning any man whoever provides ye above articles for raising is to keep a particular account of ye same, to settle with ye committee appointed for ye meeting-house work, and have his credit and pay for ye same." In 1776 it was voted to reconsider £15 of the £20 voted in 1775 to hire preaching. There was, it seems, a warm controversy touching the seating of the meeting-house, and a committee consisting of three persons —one from Amherst, one from Shutesbury, and one from Northfield— was called in to decide the matter.
Sept. 13, 1776, it was voted that "it be our mind to settle the gospel among us as soon as may be, and that we invite Mr. Hays a candidate to that purpose." Mr. Hays, however, declined the call. In March, 1777, a committee was appointed to provide a ministerial settlement, and Mr. Hays was at the same time invited to return and preach the following spring, and promised 40s. per Sabbath for what preaching he had done since the previous spring. From this it appears that Mr. Hays had been preaching occasionally at Leverett.
In March, 1778, another resolve was made to come into some method to purchase a ministerial settlement. In June of that year another effort was made to induce Mr. Hays to settle with the church, but a second time he declined. In the following December, £60 were raised to hire preaching. In 1780 it was voted "we will provide some boards for ye meeting-house." Shortly thereafter it was voted "we will do something to ye meeting-house."
It was resolved in 1781 to invite Mr. Lyon to return and preach on probation. In 1785 the town gave its full leave and consent to any gentleman or men, in town or out of town, to build a handsome porch over the front door of the meeting-house. At the same time the town promised to color the meeting-house the next spring, to glaze it, to erect handsome pillars under the gallery beams, and to lay the gallery floor.
The organization of the Congregational Church dates from 1774, but the settlement of the first pastor did not take place until 1784. This pastor was Rev. Henry Williams, who, after serving the church twenty-seven years, died in 1811. Among his successors were Joel Wright, Joseph Sawyer, Jonas Colburn, Freegrace Reynolds, and David Eastman. The old church stood until 1838, when it was replaced by the present edifice. The pastor now in charge is Rev. A. F. Clark. The church membership is 89.
The origin of the First Baptist Church at. North Leverett dates back as far as 1767, when it was organized in Montague, by people of that town and of Leverett living near the present Leverett line. In 1791 the centre of the organization was removed to North Leverett, and the name changed to the Baptist Church of Leverett, although it was also known as the Baptist Church of Leverett and Montague. The first church building was erected in North Leverett in 1795, and in 1836 the present structure replaced it. Since 1791 the pastors of the church have been Simeon Combs, Elijah Montague, Elias McGregory, Aaron Burbank, N. B. Jones, B. F. Remington, Samuel Everett, and Baxter Newton, the latter, who is the present pastor, having occupied the pulpit of this church for about thirty years. The church membership is about 100. A Free-Will Baptist Church organized in the east in 1835, a Unitarian Society, and a Universalist Society, organized about the same time, are now extinct, having passed out of existence about twenty years ago. The Baptists, in common with those of other towns, were in frequent controversies with the town authorities because of their unwillingness to pay the town tax for the support of the "orthodox" minister. Suits at law were brought against them by the town to compel the payment of the tax, but the verdict of the law generally up-held the Baptists.
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26 Jun 2005