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The History of Pilgrim Church

Old pilgrim churchIn 1685, the First Parish in Sherborn was founded with the Reverend Daniel Gookin called as first minister. In the 1820’s disputes broke out among members concerning the nature of God. Was God Trinitarian, one in three (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) or Unitarian (one God)? The argument resulted in the splitting of the church into two parishes, First Parish Unitarian, and “The Sherborn Evangelical Society” (Trinitarian) formed in 1830.  The frame for what we now call home, Pilgrim Church, was raised on July 8, 1830 and we still worship in the original meeting house.  In 1941, for lack of members and finances, the two churches decided to re-merge and were one worshipping community until, once again, the church split over doctrinal issues in 1961.

Pilgrim Church has been blessed with powerful and faithful ministerial leadership. Two of our most influential shepherds were The Reverend Edmund Dowse and the Reverend Dr. Kenneth Powell.

Edward Dowse and his chairReverend Dowse began his ministry in 1838 and served for sixty-seven years, reputedly the longest ministry in the United States. He also served more than 50 years as Chairman of the local School Committee, and was instrumental in having the railroad routed through Sherborn. Rev. Dowse was also a Massachusetts State Senator for two years and served as Chaplain of the Senate for twenty-five years. His portrait hangs at the rear of the sanctuary over the chair in which he sat in the Massachusetts Senate.

In 1979, Pilgrim Church called Reverend Ken Powell to be its new Pastor.  Rev. Powell, a beloved Pastor to Pilgrim Church and the wider Sherborn community served Pilgrim Church for more than twenty years. His ministry was marked by a strengthening of the spiritual community and expansion in our Christian Education and Youth Ministry programs.  Ken succumbed to cancer in the fall of 2007.

In May of 2007 Pilgrim Church called the Reverend John F. Hudson to be its new Pastor.  Reverend Hudson is a Massachusetts native, has served UCC churches throughout New England, and is a newspaper columnist for several local papers.  His ministry has been marked by the church’s renewed commitment to social outreach and justice, mission giving and a re-affirmation of our ministry to children and young people.