Over the last few years I have had the opportunity to work closely with several local congregations as they have explored their history. This work has been fun, but it has also been meaningful and rewarding. It seems that more and more historic congregations want accessible and popular histories that do not skimp on scholarly integrity. I am glad to see that congregations, or at least the one’s I have worked with, want to move away from the hagiography that has come to define too many of these congregational histories.
I was thus very pleased to see that the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts is sponsoring a day-long conference devoted to St. Michael’s Anglican Church of Marblehead. The church turns 300 this year. According to J.L. Bell of Boston 1775 (HT), it is “the oldest Episcopal congregation in New England holding services in its original building.” The Peabody Essex Museum has invited a star-studded cast of scholars to discuss the history of this church, including Donald Friary, Christopher Magra, David D. Hall, Carl Lounsbury, and Louis Nelson.
I would love to see more historic congregations do this kind of thing.