Guide to the Kingston Congregational Church Collection

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1 Page 1 of Lippitt Road Kingston, RI Website: Published in 2009 University of Rhode Island Library

2 Page 2 of 9 Collection overview Title: Kingston Congregational Church Collection, Date range: Creator: Extent: Abstract: Language of materials: Repository: Kingston Congregational Church (Kingston, R.I.) 0.75 linear feet 2 box(es) This collection contains historical documents, newsletters, programs of service, annual reports, and budgets of the historic Kingston Congregational Church in Kingston, Rhode Island. English Collection number: Mss. Gr. 169 Scope & content The records are arranged into Subject Series and measure.75 linear feet. It appears many materials were gathered during the 250th Anniversary of the church (1945). Those interested in the Church s past will find much information contained within the "History" folders in this collection. A 1945 letter from Mrs. Susan Bacon Keith to Carl Woodward regarding the history of the church building is also in the History folder. These folders include information on former pastors, the Pettaquamscutt Purchase and the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. The history of Kingston Congregational Church was celebrated in a 250th Pageant and the original 1945 narrative, menu and program survive. Newspaper clippings of this event, as well as others from , are included in the folder on publicity. Many clippings are from the student newspaper, The Beacon, and the Providence Sunday Journal. (Dates include 1934, 1936, 1945, 1957). The financial, educational, pastoral and missionary stance of the church from 1944 to 1968 is discernible in the of Annual Reports. (Available years include , , 1954 and ). The Constitution and By-Laws provide information on the name, purpose, policy, property and committees of the Kingston Congregational Church. The folder on

3 Page 3 of 9 Committee Officers and Reports includes information from the Loyalty Committee of 1944 and the Building Committee of Directories provide names and contact information on some of the former church officials and members (from , 1961). Proposed annual budgets from , 1958, 1960 and 1967 are also in these records. Among the newsletters are copies of The Spire, Kingston Congregational Church s monthly newsletter from (incomplete?). Programs of church services from can be found. Not all the services from each year are represented. Some special programs such as one commemorating the Service of Recognition for Reverend John D. Beck, 1954 are extant. The folder of sermons, vespers and hymns includes Thanksgiving vespers and hymns as well as sermons given by Rev. Stephen Yale (1965) and Rev. Kenneth B. Wentzel (1968). The records are in good condition and are available for research. Arrangement The collection is arranged in one series. 1. Subject File Historical note Now located at the intersection of Upper College Rd. and Rt. 138 (2610 Kingston Rd.) in Kingston, Rhode Island, the Kingston Congregational Church had its beginnings as the "Church at Tower Hill." It is one of the first two Congregational churches in Rhode Island. The other church is located in Newport. In 1657 a tract of land was purchased, for sixteen pounds, from Chief Sachems of the Narragansett Country by John Parker, Samuel Wilbore, Thomas Mumford, Samuel Wilson and John Hull Goldsmith. This land, known as the Pettaquamscutt Purchase, was situated in the town of South Kingston and measured about twelve square miles. In 1668, the proprietors of the Pettaquamscut Purchase donated a tract of land amounting to 300 acres for the support of an orthodox minister. This tract of land became known as the "Ministerial Lands". In 1695, Reverend John Woodward of Dedham, Massachusetts and a graduate of Harvard, answered the call and came to Kingston, R.I. to preach at the "Church at Tower Hill". His successor was John Danforth. Later another Harvard graduate, Henry Flynt, Jr. became minister. He returned to Harvard however in 1699 and attained

4 Page 4 of 9 fame there as the "Tutor". In 1701, with the aid of Judge Samuel Sewall (of Salem witch trial fame) the community secured income to support the hiring of a full time minister. Judge Sewall managed the estates of his wife Hannah Hull, sole heir to one of the original Pettaquamscutt purchasers. Reverend Samuel Niles at the age of 28 was hired as the first full time minister. He was a native of Block Island and the first person in Rhode Island to graduate from Harvard University (1699). He served from Judge Sewall and his wife also gave an acre of land to build a meeting house. It was located on Tower Hill on the corner of Post Rd. and Middle Bridge Rd. Controversy erupted in 1723 when Reverend James McSparran, an orthodox minister of the Episcopal Church of Narragansett, claimed the valuable Ministerial Lands of the Pettaquamscutt Purchase for the Church of England. Reverend Joseph Torrey, a physician and minister became minister of the Congregational Church in His diligence and aggressiveness was equal to that of the Episcopalian, McSparran. After many legal wranglings, the dispute was decided in The claim of the Congregational Church to the land was upheld by King George II and his Royal Council. Rev. Torrey served as pastor for the next sixty years, serving until his death in There were only occasional services from that time until 1802 when Rev. Thomas Kendall was installed as minister of the Church at Tower Hill. He remained until The population began moving toward the community of Kingston Hill or "Little Rest". This made it difficult to maintain a congregation in the present location of the church. A newly established society was created to administer the Ministerial Lands in 1820 with Elisha R. Potter ( ) serving as Chairman. The Society decided to build a new meeting house on land donated by Elisha R. Potter in Little Rest. The present church has changed little since its dedication on January 17, As one of the oldest established churches in America, the Kingston Congregational Church enjoys a rich history that continues to the present day. Access & use Access to the collection: Use of materials: Open for research. Terms governing use and reproduction: Photocopying and scanning of materials is a fee based service available in the repository and is allowed at the discretion of the Archivist when in compliance to the Unit's policy on copyright and publication.

5 Page 5 of 9 Preferred citation: Kingston Congregational Church Collection, , Mss. Gr. 169, University of Rhode Island LibrarySpecial Collections and Contact information: Administrative information About the collection 15 Lippitt Road Kingston, RI Website: Aquisition: It is unknown when the Kingston Congregational Church collection was first received by the University Library. It may be surmised that Special Collections received the records through the church's associational relationship with the University. The establishment of the Experiment Station in 1888 and the State College afterward gave the ministers a greater opportunity to reach more people. Some of the ministers have served as councilors to the Protestant students. Many of the newsletters bear the addresses of several Library staff, including the Head Librarian during the first half of the 20th century, Francis Pitcher Allen. The President of the University ( ) Carl Woodward was also a congregant of Kingston Congregational Church. About the finding aid Author: Finding aid prepared by Kristen Anderson and Sarina R. Wyant. Encoding: Finding aid encoded by Hailie D. Posey 2009 June 23 Descriptive rules: Finding aid based on Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS)

6 Page 6 of 9 Search terms Names: Subjects: Kingston Congregational Church (Kingston, R.I.) Kingston Congregational Church (Kingston, R.I.) Kingston Congregational Church (Kingston, R.I.) -- History Kingston (R.I.) -- Church history

7 Page 7 of 9 Inventory Series 1, Subject File, Box 1-2 Folder 1-22 The records are arranged in one subject series. It appears many materials were gathered during the 250th Anniversary of the church (1945). Those interested in the Church s past will find much information contained within the "History" folders in this Series. These folders include information on former pastors, the Pettaquamscutt Purchase and the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. A 1945 letter from Mrs. Susan Bacon Keith to Carl Woodward regarding the history of the church building is also in the "History" folders. The history of Kingston Congregational Church was celebrated in a 250th Pageant and the original 1945 narrative, menu and program survive. Newspaper clippings of this event, as well as others from , are included in the folder on publicity. Many clippings are from the student newspaper, The Beacon, and the Providence Sunday Journal. (Dates include 1934, 1936, 1945, 1957). The financial, educational, pastoral and missionary stance of the church from 1944 to 1968 is discernible in the Annual Reports. (Available years include , , 1954 and ). The Constitution and By-Laws deal with the name, purpose, policy, property and committees of the Kingston Congregational Church. The folder on Committee Officers and Reports includes information from the Loyalty Committee of 1944 and the Building Committee of Directories provide names and contact information on some of the former church officials and members (from , 1961). Proposed annual budgets from , 1958, 1960 and 1967are also in the records. Among the newsletters are copies of The Spire, Kingston Congregational Church s monthly newsletter, are available from , but not all of the months are represented. Programs of church services from can be found. Not all the services from each year are represented, but special programs such as one commemorating the Service of Recognition for Reverend John D. Beck, 1954, can be found. The folder on sermons, vespers and hymns includes Thanksgiving vespers and hymns as well as examples of sermons given by Rev. Stephen Yale (1965) and Rev. Kenneth B. Wentzel (1968). The records are arranged alphabetically by type or subject of the record. Container Description Date 1 Anniversary (250th) Pageant Narrative 1945 Nov 02

8 Page 8 of 9 2 Anniversary (250th) Service Programs Annual Reports Annual Reports Annual Reports Budgets Committees and Reports 1925, 1944, 1945, 1955, 1960, Constitution and By-Laws 1945, Directories and Membership Lists History 1944?-1945 History 1944?-1945 Men and Women in Military Service Minutes/Agenda , 1960, undated Newsletters 1936, 1944, Newsletters Newsletters

9 Page 9 of Newspaper Clippings Programs of Church Services Programs of Church Services Rhode Island Congregational Christian Conference Agenda/Annual Report Rhode Island Congregational Conference Minutes Sermons, Vespers and Hymns s?, 1965, 1968, 1967

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